State gives $2.7 boost to St. Kevin’s rehab

The redevelopment of the former St. Kevin’s parish property, considered crucial to the Uphams Corner area, received a boost last week as state officials announced an influx of funds for the project. The firm developing the former school building, called the St. Kevin’s Limited Partnerships, will be receiving $2.7 million in state Department of Housing and Community Development subsidies on top of $768,950 in federal low income housing tax credits.

The group plans to use the money to build 33 units for families that are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

The partnership team also includes St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center, which will provide some of the services, and Holy Family Parish. The group will be seeking more state funds, since the 2.4-acre project includes 80 residential units. The money announced last week covers about half of the funds needed.

According to the developers, the project includes two new buildings at 35 Bird St. and 530 Columbia Rd. and a re-use of the existing 516 Columbia Rd. building. The Bird Street location would include 12 units while 516 Columbia Rd. would house 21 residential apartments.

The property is bounded by Davern Avenue, Bird Street, Columbia Road, and Virginia Street.

“All the permits are in place; now we have some state funding,” said Rev. Jack Ahern, who oversees the parish that at one time included St. Kevin’s. “We see this is as a critical opportunity for Uphams Corner,” added Lisa Alberghini, head of the Planning Office of Urban Affairs, which is affiliated with the archdiocese of Boston. “We’re hoping we can complete the financing package in the next number of months.” Alberghini said she hopes to start construction before the end of the year.

Whether the project will include a new library remains unclear. The development group had spoken with Boston Public Library officials about housing a new Uphams Corner library early on. Alberghini said on Tuesday that that ball is in the city’s court.

The aging Uphams Corner branch library has been a frequent source of neighborhood complaints. If library officials pass on including a new library in the St. Kevin’s project, the developers plan to include civic space instead.

State Rep. Carlos Henriquez, who lives in the area, called the St. Kevin’s site “critical,” and said he has heard from local residents who have been concerned that the site has remained vacant. Once the project is complete, he said, he hopes it can feed an increase in retail stores in Uphams Corner and support the struggling Strand Theatre next door.

The developers have been chasing state funds since the inception of their project, which was first announced in 2010, two years after the 63-year-old St. Kevin’s parish was closed in a consolidation ordered by the Archdiocese.

The state funding announced last week in Revere came from a pot of $67 million made available for affordable housing in 23 developments spread across 21 communities. “All families deserve access to quality housing in Massachusetts,” Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who chairs the state’s interagency council on housing and homelessness, said in a statement. “Our administration is committed to providing more affordable housing options for low-income families, and this latest round of resources and tax credits will increase our housing infrastructure and lead to improved community development in regions across the state.”

The Uphams Corner group has already launched a website, which they plan to update as the project moves along: stkevinsredevelopment.org.