Boston Neighborhood Transforms Church into Housing

How grassroots organizers beat out commercial bidders, and overcame zoning hurdles to redevelop Catholic church into affordable housing.
March 9, 2010, 1pm PST | Cathy Duchamp
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It seems every week we hear about some Catholic Archdiocese selling its churches or schools. But what happens to those properties? WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov revisits the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain which purchased Blessed Sacrament Church. The local community development corporation is now building a four-story co-housing complex inside the ten-story church.

"Taking a church and turning it into housing is a bit of a challenge," says Brian Goldson, of New Atlantic Development, the firm that is overseeing construction. "You ask the church what it wants to be and it tells you it wants to be a church, not a bunch of condos."

In addition to co-housing, below-market-rate condos are for sale in what used to be the church rectory. The convent will house formerly homeless people. Former parishoner Demaris Pimental supports a mix of housing. "It's not good to have only low-income (housing)," Pimental tells WBUR. "It's good to have a little bit of market value. And keeping that balance is a challenge for our neighborhood because gentrification will change that unique taste of diversity that Jamaica Plain has."

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Published on Monday, March 8, 2010 in WBUR - Boston public radio
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