Holy Trinity Church in Boston Being Turned into Boutique Condos

For those who have not yet heard, Holy Trinity Church, the former home of the German Catholic Community and the Traditional Latin Mass is being redeveloped into boutique condos.  We posted last June that the property was up for sale, and in November we learned it had been sold, however the identity of the developer was not yet publicly available. Oddly, the archdiocese has not announced the sale price, or what will become of the millions of dollars of proceeds. Now the plans are up for approval by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. A picture of the proposed development can be found below.

Here is what has been written about the proposed plans.  In “You Could Soon Live in This 19th Century South End Church” we learn:

Finegold Alexander + Associates, Inc. is hoping to transform the former Holy Trinity German Catholic Church and Rectory – located at 136 Shawmut Ave. in Boston’s South End – into an eight-story structure boasting 33 residential units. (The firm is acting on behalf of owner 136 Shawmut LLC, formed out of New Boston Ventures, according to the Boston Globe.)

According to a report filed by Finegold Alexander principal-in-charge James G. Alexander with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, this particular housing development will keep the church and rectory’s exterior facade while the interior of the building will be completely demolished and rebuilt – assuming, of course, the project is approved by the BRA.

Atop the building, however, will rise a glass and steel structure that, the report notes, is expected to “blend old and new, creating a bold centerpiece for this developing neighborhood.”

Not counting the basement containing 24 parking spaces, some 57,000-square-feet of residential space could be built, more than 69,000-square-feet in total (counting the basement lot).

The BRA a held public hearing to gather community input on the project on Monday, April 27.

Regarding the “eye-popping design,” the Boston Globe reported:

“You could tear it down and start over, which would be a tragedy — you’d lose the details, the social and religious history,” said architect James Alexander, who led the building’s design team at Finegold Alexander + Associates. “But re-using it as it was, with the shape of the roof and the square footage, it just wouldn’t generate the return.”

Alexander and his team, along with New Boston Ventures, fine-tuned the design over several consultations with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Officials there asked the designers to move the front of the new structure back from the street, so the church’s central tower would remain visually prominent.

As we have said before, BCI thinks the sale and loss of this magnificent church (see pictures here) has been a great tragedy. The conversion to boutique condos would appear to now put the nail in the coffin. Any chances of this great Catholic church ever being a Catholic church and place for Catholic worship again are probably forever gone.

15 Responses to Holy Trinity Church in Boston Being Turned into Boutique Condos

  1. jbq2 says:

    I visited Romania (Constanta) on a state visit with the U.S. Navy in 1975. They were on the verge of doing away with their Communist suppressors. The local museum was a former church. Now in Boston, we have churches turned into museums. There is a parallel.

  2. Ted Furey says:

    What a shame the Chancery didn’t follow Brooklyn, NY’s example, and make Holy Trinity a C0-Cathedral, save money on heating and light in the winter months…. heating the vast, Holy Cross Cathedral for maybe 300+people a Sunday, and open the Cathedral for events that attract large crowds, 1, 500 +.
    With no parking for events for some two to three years, because of the “Cathedral Highrise Building,” it would save $$$$ & Holy Trinity’s area has more venues for parking a few hundred cars.
    Keeping the, “Treasured Holy Trinity, ” would have ennoblied the Arch. of Boston!”

  3. Joyful Noise says:

    The property sold for $7,125,000 on 12/8/2014 to 136 Shawmut LLC which incorporated on 8/14/2014. Apparent principals are David Goldman and Dennis Kanin. Mission of the LLC is RE investment and financing and sale.

    There are the usual deed restrictions prohibiting abortion clinics etc for 90 years. The “benefitted” land is Holy Cross Cathedral so that means if a restriction is violated the Cathedral has standing to enforce the restriction.

    The deed and corporate filing is online.

  4. Joyful Noise says:

    Hopefully this link brings you to an article about the New Hampshire church that now is home to the re redid and other articles from Holy Trinity. At least some aspects were carefully preserved and appreciated. Looks like a sale to me though. Never could understand how one RC church that is closed sells to another RC church.

  5. S W says:

    “will keep the church and rectory’s exterior facade while the interior (of the building) will be completely demolished and rebuilt

    What a perfect description of what has happened to The Church since Vatican two.

    Boutique Condos = Modernist marketing lingo for: undersize overpriced dwellings for singles and dinks in need of a place to sleep and display nick-knacks.

  6. Alice Slattery says:

    Does anyone know what the final agreement was in the documents for the sale of St. James Church in Wellesley? Our local newspapers reported that there was a hold-up to the signing because of a legal challenge to the requirement that no part of the property could never be used for abortion purposes. Was this requirement still in the final signing?

  7. Joyful Noise says:

    Can you provide an address for the property?

  8. Joyful Noise says:

    Think I found it. St. James in Wellesley was sold 11-24-2014 for 3.8 million to the town of Wellesley. There are use restrictions such that the property may be used for municipal purposes only, such as recreation and open space. This restriction shall expire 40 years from the date of the deed delivery. Also, and not sure how significant this is, but church must be razed within 13 months of the deed. Did that happen?

    • Joyful Noise says:

      That is depressing and overwhelming to read. Such great beauty, built and maintained by the faithful and mostly poor parishioners from generations past, now silverplattered over to the one percenters to enjoy and relish.

      • Percy says:

        My understanding from friends who heard about the concept plan originally developed by GTI was that it would keep the nave vault and blow through the aisle vaults to have 3-tiers of units running along the nave, with the nave remaining in some form as an atrium-like space, and the old sanctuary space (which was quite an underappreciated piece of design from a theologically-informed art/architecture perspective) remaining as a community space. The roof needs to be replaced anway, and I think there would have been some mansard-like blow-upwards over the aisles. They would have some affordable units along the perimeter of the former basement, and parking in the interior of the old basement.

        Now it appears they may have altered the concept, but no details about it yet.

  9. Joyful Noise says:

    The inclusion of a few set asides for affordable housing makes people feel good. However, it is a strategic step developers take to get any kind of variance they need from the cities. The units cost them very little and house too few to make it worthwhile to anyone but the developer. There is huge transformation taking place in cities like Boston and Canbridge. Big $$$$ now wants to live in these communities and seem to love church buildings but not for worship.

    • Percy says:

      They like church buildings because the scale is relatively small but far more distinctive (at least prosthetically) than would otherwise be the case.

      However, land is so valuable in the core of Boston that small lots are going to be intensively built up high. We’re not yet at the Hong Kong point in the curve – midtown Manhattan is, with >1000 ft pencil towers less than 100 feet square now being developed – but Boston’s now an international financial/technical hub with real estate to match. Just watch the tower that’s going to go up in a small patch of land formerly owned by the Christian Science Church at the foot of Belvidre Street in the Back Bay…..

      The limiting factors here are the FAA/Logan Airport and landfill vs bedrock.

      • Percy says:

        PS: It would be very interesting to see if the City of Boston would ever redevelop the housing project next to Holy Cross Cathedral. It would make a mint. (Part of which woudl have to be used to house the current residents….)

      • Joyful Noise says:

        Cities no longer want to provide or maintain public housing. Instead they now shift that “burden” to developers under the guise of inclusionary zoning. The developers in turn get to bulldoze through neighborhoods with no regard for FAR or height restrictions and ruin any notion of real neighborhood most of us enjoyed growing up. The affordable housing units don’t make a dent in the actual need. The luxury units drive up the rental price in the neighborhood and anyone from moderate income is driven out to the burbs. So, what looks like a nice idea at first glance is remaking our cities as places for the rich. Churches are the perfect excuse for zoning relief. Most are horribly suited for housing as they are cavernous with ceilings as high as the grandest theaters.

        The real shame here is that Holy Trinity did not enjoy historic landmark protection. With that you would not see the glass malignancy protruding from its roof. That means the opportunity to house enough luxury units would have been quite limited.

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