Conversion of the Immaculate Conception Church into Condominiums

Photo of proposed project on the BRA website

Photo of proposed project on the BRA website

On Tuesday, July 5, the South End Landmark District Commission reviewed the design application for the conversion of the Immaculate Conception Church to 63 condominiums. This was the first design application put forth by Nunes Trabucco Architects and the second meeting with the South End Landmark District Commission (SELDC). Several South End residents living next to the church attended the public meeting at Boston City Hall to hear the developer’s proposed project and voice their concerns. The developer put together a PowerPoint presentation for the committee and the public.

The proposed development will be called The Cosmopolitan and Nunes Trabucco Architects is handling the project. This meeting was the first design application put forth before the South End Landmark District Commission. The developer previously met with the commission at its May meeting for an advisory hearing. At this previous hearing, the Commission listened to the proposed project and voiced their concerns and made several suggestions.

Immaculate Conception Church, 1973. (Photo property of the South End Historical Society)

Immaculate Conception Church, 1973. (Photo property of the South End Historical Society)

The South End Landmark District Commission does not have jurisdiction over the entire project. All exterior work at front facades, all exterior work at rooftops (when visible from a public way), and all exterior work at side and rear elevations (when side and rear elevations face a public way) are subject to the review of the South End Landmark District Commission. The project is also under review of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

“The BRA’s Development Review Department facilitates the review of small and large scale development projects, pursuant to Article 80 of the Boston Zoning Code. Led by a team of Project Management staff, this department coordinates with BRA Planning & Urban Design staff, City Agencies, elected officials and the community to foster responsible development in the neighborhoods and the Downtown.” (from the BRA website)

According to the BRA website, the developers have submitted a Letter of Intent, but has yet been approved by the Board.

After listening to the presentation, the Commission asked questions and discussed their concerns with the project. Their main areas of concern:

  • Window tracery: The commission would like it preserved as this is a significant aspect to the building’s architecture.
  • Garage Door: The proposed garage door on East Concord Street needs further development
  • Recessed roof balconies: There are some parts of the roof balconies that the commission would like altered, such as the walls between each balcony being thicker.

After questions and comments, the Commission made a motion to accept the design application in concept with provisos. The applicants will need to take the commission’s concerns and suggestions to further develop their project and come before the full commission at a future meeting.

After the motion was made and before the commission voted, the floor was opened for public comment. Around 8-10 residents of the community stood to voice their concerns over the proposed project. The commission asked they speak only on things that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction. For example, residents concerned over the number of units, the traffic or construction noise, would need to contact the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).

Some concerns that the public brought up:

  • HVAC yard (it was not discussed in the presentation and both the Commission and residents would like to know what developers have planned).
  • Copper roof located to the right of the garage. Both the commission and residents want to see it preserved. The developer stated that they had no intention of removing it; however, the cross attached to the copper roof may need to be removed (the Archdiocese will be removing all religious iconography on the exterior and interior of the church).
  • The plans for the building from Father Gilday Street were not discussed in Tuesday’s presentation and will need to be moving forward.

The Commission agreed with the public regarding these concerns and would like to see these items further developed and discussed at the next meeting. The South End Historical Society will continue to attend meetings regarding the church at City Hall and update the project’s progress through our blog and on Twitter.

This was the first of several public meetings that the developers of the project will attend at Boston City Hall. Interested in the South End Landmark District Commission? Be sure to visit their page on the City of Boston website and attend their monthly public meetings, held every 1st Tuesday of the month!

Our Year in Review: Oral Histories, New Historical Images, and a New Website!

As the year draws to a close, the Society reflects on the many projects that we have undertaken in 2012. We launched a new website, held more than a dozen programs and walking tours, completed our collections inventory, and continued our oral history initiative- now in it’s second year. The Society began processing and digitizing several hundred items donated to our collections by a long-time South End resident- a project that will continue through most of 2013. In 2012, we had a record number of researchers, South End residents, local news outlets, and others use our collections and resources, a trend that we anticipate will continue.

The Society’s yearly operating income pays our hard-working staff and allows us to continue to advocate and advise for preservation in the South End. However, in 2013 we need to begin implementing major improvements to our historic South End rowhouse- the Francis Dane House. We also need to continue the massive overhaul of our collections management system, and to expand our use of digital tools in an effort to make our collections and South End history more accessible to the public.

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Please consider making a generous tax-deductible contribution to help us meet these goals.

For 46 years, the Society has worked to promote the rich history of the South End and to preserve its architectural integrity through advocacy, education, and documentation. Please join us to help make our 47th year a successful one.

Event Announcement: Making Older Homes Green, Historic Preservation Meets Energy Conservation

This event will provide guidelines and information about how older or historic houses can be turned green without losing their historic character. Some areas that will be covered are: how to add alternative energy systems, the value of retaining and upgrading wood windows, and ways to properly insulate an historic house.  This event is sponsored by the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay and is free and open to the public.  For more information about location and signing up, see our Neighborhood Events page here.

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