By Seth Daniel
Development in the tight quarters of the downtown neighborhoods is never easy, but it’s made particularly more difficult when that development involves converting a house of worship into living space.
Several church conversions in the South End have stalled or taken years to complete, but on their first venture into converting a church – the Holy Trinity German Catholic Church on Shawmut Avenue – New Boston Ventures has hit the timelines and created a great new address in an emerging section of the South End.
“This is our first church,” said David Goldman of New Boston, a longtime South End development company. “We’ve done jails. We’ve done town halls. We’ve done fire stations and a Salvation Army building. We’ve done ground up construction, too, but never a church. This was a really good experience. The neighborhood embraced it, and we had a great relationship with the abutters and neighborhood association. We had a fantastic experience working with the City, all the way up to the mayor’s office. Everyone wanted to see this get done. Marketing on it went so well we sold out six months ago.”
Right now, they have 30-plus move-ins scheduled and the building is sold out. Construction is basically done, minus a few units that have extreme custom layouts. Most of the units will be occupied in the next few weeks, and some already are occupied.
Goldman said part of the success of the project was the use of Metric Construction, which he said he has used several times before.
“A big part of it is using a reputable contractor we’ve worked with before,” he said. “They’re good at keeping a schedule and staying close to a budget and they really drive a project. There are two other church projects in the South End that have taken six years.”
The Lucas project features 33 luxury units with basement parking and eight floors of a combined old church and new tower structure.
The original church was designed by architect Patrick Keely and built in 1877. It once had a huge steeple that towered over the neighborhood, but that was destroyed in a hurricane in 1938. What is left is timeless spires that the development team has kept and incorporated into the views on balconies and roof decks in the top units from floors four to eight.
On those top floors, which encompass the new tower configuration, there are large units of about an average of 3,200 square feet – one on either side of the building with private elevator service into the unit.
Some of those units also feature front tower room where beautiful curved windows frame the Back Bay skyline.
The front lobby has been nicely transformed with striking marble tile and a one-of-a-kind chandelier that interfaces with the street nicely at night.
The two penthouses feature ultra-large roof decks with hook-ups for gas, electricity and sound – not to mention never-before-seen views of the Back Bay, South End and downtown.
Other amenities include a fitness room, a heated driveway, a dog-wash station and a package delivery room with concierge.
Goldman said one of the things that has struck him now that things are wrapping up is just how centrally located the Lucas is to the rest of the city.
“You can’t believe what a central location this is,” he said. “It’s so easy to walk anywhere in the South End, and Arlington Street is a quick trip to the Back Bay and Shawmut Street takes you right to Downtown Crossing.”