Report: Proposal would transform Jamaica Plain church into affordable housing, performance space

New Construction New Developments News Jamaica Plain

The shuttered Church of the Blessed Sacrament could fill with life again under a new proposal.

As first reported by GBH this week, the Hyde Square Task Force that owns the Jamaica Plain property on Centre Street said its board of directors has picked Philadelphia-based developer, Pennrose, to transform the aging structure into 52 housing units — of which more than half will be deemed affordable — and public performance spaces.

“We recognize that this is the beginning of a partnership with Pennrose,” Celina Miranda, the executive director of the Hyde Square Task Force, told the radio station. “The HSTF Board believes that Pennrose has the highest likelihood of a great outcome for the community and for our organization.”

For affordability, Pennrose is eyeing 20 units capped at 120% of area median income, 16 units at 60%, 8 units at 50%, and 8 units at 30%, HSTF told GBH.

Charlie Adams, Pennrose’s New England regional vice president, told the news outlet that the company put more affordable units into the plans after receiving community input. He noted that the final numbers could still fluctuate, however.

“Our goal is to preserve and transform this beloved, historic asset into a high-quality, multi-purpose development for residents, neighbors and the surrounding community to enjoy,” said Adams.

According to Miranda, Pennrose was selected in part due to its inclusion of a 200-person performance space (which HSTF will have an ownership stake in) and other community benefits, such as financial support to assist the HSTF in paying off debt on the church and consideration in what to name the new development.

Pennrose also has a track record of building similar projects with a focus on affordable housing, having taken on 265 development projects since it was founded in 1971, GBH reports.

In Boston, Pennrose is currently creating the city’s first LGBTQ-supported senior housing in Hyde Park at the former William Barton Rogers Middle School.

Friends of the Blessed Sacrament, a group of the church’s former parishioners, told GBH they were happy with Pennrose as the HSTF’s pick for the project. The group, fearing the church could be converted to high-end housing, previously opposed the HSTF’s initial decision to sell the property without restrictions.

“The proposed housing mix that includes a significant amount of affordable housing that will allow residents and families of a wide range of incomes to be able to call Blessed Sacrament home,” the group said in a statement.

Pennrose will buy the church for less than its $2.5 million asking price, GBH reports. But what exactly the firm will pay is still under negotiation.

The HSTF bought the building in 2014 with hopes of turning it into a youth center — a plan for which the group could not find a developer, according to GBH. A previous owner, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, put 80 affordable housing units in another space on the site.