Condo complex would rise behind First Parish manse under new plan

A rendering supplied by the development team shows how the existing Manse House — once part of the First Parish Church campus atop Meetinghouse Hill— might look if a proposed 60-unit condo complex is built. Image courtesy J Peter Vanko/Vanko Studio

The new owners of the former First Parish Dorchester Manse at 29 High St. unveiled their proposal to turn the property into a 60-unit condo complex at Wednesday night’s Meetinghouse Hill Civic Association meeting.

The plan would restore the 19th century manse as community space, linked to a new, four-story residential building with a vestibule. The new building will have 32 studios (464 square feet), 16 larger studios (601-638 square feet), eight one-bedroom units (725-760 square feet), and four two-bedroom units (959 and 994 square feet), according to Peter Vanko, the project’s architect.

George Morancy, an attorney representing the development team, said eight units will be “affordable.”

About 30 underground parking spaces are planned. Vanko said the team believes many of potential buyers will not own cars. There will be three to four electric cars, owned by the condo association, for residents to use and solar panels could be installed on the roof, he said.

Fernando Dalfior of Dalfior Development Inc., owner and developer of the property, said the team sought feedback from realtors and found that there aren’t many single-unit condos for purchase in Dorchester.

“Now that condos are so expensive, we are trying to make the units smaller so that first-time homebuyers and empty nesters are able to own a condo,” said Brad Cangiamila of Boston Common Holdings, another owner and developer.

Vanko said he has worked on projects turning single-family units into multi-family condos, but the scale of this project is “unheard of.”

But Jennifer Johnson, vice president of Meetinghouse Hill civic group, said the size of the project might work for a thoroughfare such as Dorchester Avenue, but is too big for a smaller sidestreet. Approving this project will set “a bad precedent not only for this neighborhood, but for Dorchester and probably the entire city of Boston.”

Geoff Doerre, a board member of Meetinghouse Hill Civic, also questioned the density of the project and brought up the expansion of the Dot Block plan, which was approved by the BPDA board last week.

The Wednesday meeting was the first public presentation of the project. More meetings will be scheduled, Morancy said.

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