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Another old South End church could become condos, but this one won't look like an office building landed on it

Proposed Harrison Avenue condos in the South End

A Natick developer has filed plans to turn the Immaculate Conception Church at 771 Harrison Ave. into 63 condominiums to be called the Cosmopolitan.

Unlike the Holy Trinity project on Shawmut Avenue, however, developer Ronald Simons's plans show the exterior of the church remaining largely the same. The proposal does call for roof terraces and skylights.

At 85 feet in height, the church building will accommodate seven stories, according to his filing with the BRA. He's proposing mostly one- and two-bedroom condos, with four studios and eight three-bedroom units.

Simons is proposing 73 parking spaces - 48 in a basement converted to a garage, the rest in a neighboring garage. He says he will also install storage space for 58 bicycles.

Simons says the church was erected in 1859 for Boston College - and was designed by the same architect responsible for Holy Name Cathedral. All of the religious items still inside the building will be given to the Archdiocese of Boston as part of its official deconsecration as a house of worship.

The project's main entrance will be in a separate building on the site that went up in 1960.

771 Harrison Ave. small-project review application (5M PDF).

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I hope there's an affordable housing lottery for one of the units so that $11,000 sofas don't go homeless.

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Wealthy local architect just happens to win the lottery? Yeah... no connections or strings pulled there.

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Even with the market tanking then, that is still such a sweet deal. I know there are people who can make anything look good with a limited budget, but come on, this is ridiculous.

Less mandated "affordable" housing, means more affordable housing for everyone. As someone who used to manage one of these mixed income developments, the fix is most certainly in for those who are connected.

On another note, Immaculate Conception was designed by Patrick Keely, the architect of the still unfinished, Cathedral of The Holy Cross as well as many other churches throughout the US. The last one of his that was ripped apart for housing was Sts. Peter and Paul on West Broadway in 2001. He also did St. James in Chinatown which is probably on the block if the money is right.

http://www.patrickkeely.com/churches.html

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My earlier comment wasn't approved (my fault for being an anonymous coward), but, anecdotally, I've seen enough of the various subsidized housing deals in Boston and Cambridge, to strongly suspect there's a Pulitzer waiting for any investigative journalists able to expose the breadth and depth of the problems.

It's also a taboo topic. People don't know what you're talking about, and many assume that criticism of anything related to any kind of subsidized housing program in practice is all kinds of stereotypical ugly bias. Taboos are great shields for abuse.

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I know of one particular South End condo building in which there were several affordable housing units set aside for "artists". For the most part, the "artists", who paid next to nothing to live in a very fancy building, drive very expensive cars, wear expensive clothing, shoes, etc. Much nicer than I would expect they could afford as working artists. In fact, one couple also owns a very lucrative and successful local business. I am baffled as to what the "requirements" must have been to obtain their unit. Was it some board of friends who ignored the financials and just saw a few mediocre paintings?

Of course they probably paint one painting a year, thus qualifying them as Bullsh*t Artists.
If that's the only requirement, I'm heading right down to Blick to pick me up some paints and a canvas!

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The last one of his that was ripped apart for housing was Sts. Peter and Paul on West Broadway in 2001.

That was a Keeley church too. Work on the architectural abortion it is to become has begun already. It's been pretty much demolished, save for the walls and tower. It's sure to give the monstrosity at Zero Worcester Square a run for its money on the ugliest and most inappropriate new development in the South End.

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The latest Patrick Keely church ripped apart for housing is under construction right now, St. Augustine's on Dorchester St. in South Boston.

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Maybe now. That lottery took place more than eight years ago.

Or, maybe, architects aren't paid as much as you think they are. Young ones most certainly are not paid very well at all.

They probably did not pay retail for any of the upgrades, either.

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The couple bought their condo in 2008 through the affordable housing program. In 2012, they sold one of their design companies to Knoll and were able to upgrade the interior of their home.

I guess they could have sold their affordable housing unit to another "deserving" person who also had a moderate income but nothing was stopping them from staying where they are, paying a low mortgage, and redoing the interior.

Of course, when the do eventually sell, their profit is limited, usually based on a 3-5% allowable increase by the BRA.

So hopefully they didn't pay too much for their dual Sub Zero refrigerators or Wolf oven.

http://www.contemporist.com/2015/09/29/an-apartment-in-bostons-south-end...

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I know who this person is and he isn't young. He's also made a decent salary for over a decade with full time employment at a firm, a side enterprise with a gallery/publishing entity, and a lucrative teaching position at a university.

By no means a poor young architect struggling to make 50k.

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I can almost smell the Canada goose coats!

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Any photos of the interior before its destroyed for more generic McCondos?

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from the BPL's flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/5415322513/in/photos...

Click the righthand arrow 5 times for more photos (one of them isn't of the Immaculate)

Here are two photos by John Leslie of the interior decorated for it looks like the Easter season

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/8247741296/in/photos...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/8246672647

The demolition done in the 80's involved the removal of pews, the pulpit, chandeliers & other decorative elements. Other than that the interior remained unchanged. These photos will give you some idea--

http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/gallery/us_northeast/massachusetts/bos...

http://database.organsociety.org/photos/MA/Boston.ImmaculateCo.1902HookH...

The last Mass was celebrated 9 years ago and as far as I know the building hasn't been used since. I also believe there was an article in the Globe last year around this time announcing the conversion to condos, but maybe that was another project since abandoned.

Though BC High left the South End in the 50's. The church still remained tied to the school. Whenever a member of the school's Jesuit community died, the funeral was held at the Immaculate Conception with the student body & faculty attending. Then you were free for the rest of the day. One funeral during my 4 yrs, was for Brother Erhard who for years had been responsible for hanging the Christmas & Easter decorations like the ones in the photo. He had some hair-raising stories about crawling around on the narrow ledges under the barrel vault roof. When Cardinal Cushing, an alumnus, died, the whole school went to a morning memorial concelebration at the Immaculate, then walked en masse to the Cathedral to file by his bier.

Speaking of the Cathedral-- a small correction: It's the Holy Cross Cathedral, not the Holy Name.

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