The former St. Kevin’s Parish property in Uphams Corner and two parcels of the St. Peter’s Parish campus on Meetinghouse Hill are going to be converted into affordable housing for Boston families, with some of the new residents emerging from homelessness.
The Archdiocese of Boston will be conveying the St. Kevin’s site to a partnership of three organizations that includes St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center, Holy Family Parish, and a nonprofit real estate developer tied to the archdiocese. Separately, the sale of St. Peter’s convent and rectory buildings appears to be imminent.
The conversion of the St. Kevin’s property “will make a difference that’s profound for families,” Judy Beckler, head of St. Mary’s Women and Children’s Center, told the Reporter. There are 700 families living in shelters in Boston, while 322 families are living in motels, said Beckler.
The 2.23-acre Uphams Corner property, which sits on the north side of Columbia Road, was closed in 2008 as the archdiocese moved to create the Pope John Paul II Academy system at other sites in the city. Beckler said the conveyance will “revitalize the footprint at St. Kevin’s.”
The purchase price for St. Kevin’s was not disclosed. Beckler said it would be revealed when the deal is finalized, a process that could take months. During that time, Beckler said she will be meeting with community members to share the plans for the site.
Because the property, a converted telephone company building, was primarily used as a church and parochial school, “there needs to be a major construction and redevelopment plan,” she said. “It’s very sound structurally,” she added.
Set up in 1993, St. Mary’s offers a range of support services to children, teen mothers, expectant mothers, and homeless families to help them combat domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, early pregnancy and inadequate housing and job skills.
Lisa Alberghini, president of the Planning Office for Urban Affairs, a nonprofit real estate developer of affordable and mixed-income housing and “social justice” ministry within the Boston Archdiocese, said in a statement that the development offers a “rare opportunity” for the archdiocese to support the work of the center, the planning office, and the Holy Family Parish.
In a statement, Cardinal Sean O’Malley said the redevelopment of the site offers a “tremendous opportunity” for the three organizations to “creatively reuse this property to further serve the community. By upholding and respecting the dignity of all people and providing housing for those in need, we will honor the legacy and tradition of St. Kevin’s Parish,” he said.
St. Kevin’s was founded in 1945. Early on, it had a high profile, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s, when it boasted a well-respected youth marching band, the Emerald Knights. Later on, the parish’s longtime pastor, Rev. J. Joseph Kierce, single-handedly kept St. Kevin’s profile at a high level with his community work locally and, among other endeavors, his promotion of Catholic Youth Organization activities across the archdiocese.
Up on Bowdoin Street, the archdiocese is also close to selling St. Peter’s convent and rectory to Caritas Communities. Like the plans for St. Kevin’s, the nonprofit group will be converting the site to affordable housing for the “working poor,” according to Fr. Jack Ahern, pastor for the Holy Family Parish, which includes both St. Kevin’s and St. Peter’s. Caritas Communities owns and manages 25 houses that provide affordable housing to over 600 individuals in the greater Boston area, according to its website.
“I think it’s a great fit,” Ahern said. “Getting good quality housing of any kind is difficult in Boston.”