Saints Alive! St. Mary’s May Follow St. John’s with Housing Proposal


As reported here, and elsewhere, St. John’s Episcopal Church at 237 Pleasant Street, is proposing to repurposes the undeveloped land behind the church itself, with an ‘affordable’ 40B project consisting of seven buildings with 64 housing units. The project was most recently before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday.

While still just a concept, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic parish is similarly considering the future of a five-acre site, located diagonally across from the church on the corner of Pleasant Street and Main Street. At 201 Main is a school building, according to our information, dating back to the late 1950s, that was initially used as a Catholic School and then, for about 20 years, housed the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School. It is currently mostly vacant but used sporadically for religious education.

The property also includes a carriage house from around the 1910s, once associated with the Hayward estate, which once included the property now held by the church. That structure would presumably fall under the town's demolition delay bylaw if its removal were contemplated in the plans of the parish.

Although nothing “official” has been stated and much is still being considered, according to Rev. Brian Manning, at least one parishioner believes the ultimate project will be ‘high end, senior housing.’

“We are proceeding cautiously and carefully so that the best results will be obtained,” said Manning.

In fact, a process has been underway for several years. According to the ‘Patrimony’ page of St. Mary’s three public meetings were held to solicit suggestions from parishioners and neighbors and an outside consultant was retained to help direct and facilitate the process. Out of the process, four ways forward emerged, which became a consensus on the need to to develop the property to help support the Mission of the parish. The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) also asked for help and advice from Matt Kelley, a real estate pro and former Town Councilor.

The PPC ultimately recommended development 201 Main Street, reserving some of the land for a building for Faith Formation, Meeting Space and Parish Office Area along with parking roughly the same as at present. The Parish Finance Council (PFC) is helping to weigh the steps ahead and, of course, as part of the Boston Archdiocese, there are specific rules that must be considered.

“At the present moment, there is no exact descriptor for the 201 Main Street Site. Our hope is that when it is offered up for development that the responses/proposals will be sensitive to the neighborhood,” said Manning.

“We want to achieve a balance between what is helpful for the long-term Mission and Good of Saint Mary’s and also that of the local community. Obviously, whatever is developed has to be feasible,” he added.

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