ZBA approves conversion of church on Isabella St. into 18 residential units

The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) on Tuesday approved the conversion of the existing church building at 25 Isabella St. in Bay Village into 18 residential condo units.

Attorney Joe Hanley told the ZBA that the project had been reduced from 26 units to 18, and consists of restoring the facade of the existing church building that was built in the late 1800s for the Our Lady of Victories parish, as well as adding an addition on top of it.

“The parish has long since vacated.” Hanley said, and “we have been a part of an extensive process with the community.”

He said that the unit count was lowered as a result of feedback from the community and from the ZBA on other projects, and now includes more larger units for families. There will be 11 three bedroom units, six two bedroom units, and one one bedroom unit. Two units will be affordable as part of the city’s Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP), including one two bedroom unit and one three bedroom unit.

The building will have an elevator, as well as four private roof decks for the duplex units on levels six and seven. Hanley said that 18 parking spaces are proposed as part of a stacker system.

The building is in the Groundwater Conservation Overlay District (GCOD), and Christian Simonelli of the Boston Groundwater Trust said that an approval letter from the Boston Water and Sewer Commission as well as a no-harm letter from an engineer have been received as required.

Architect Rebecca Berry said that the building will be all-electric, and primary pedestrian access will be off of Isabella Street.

She said that the “existing masonry will be completely cleaned and restored,” and “all existing windows will be replaced” with aluminum clad wood windows “that mimic the existing patterns.” This project has been “reviewed a couple of times” with the Bay Village Landmark District Commission, and the team plans on returning before the Commission, she said.

Kim Crucioli of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that the Mayor’s Office was in support of theproposal, adding that the “[Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA)] did an extensive community outreach” for the project, and support has also been received from abutters and the Bay Village Neighborhood Association (BVNA).

City Councilors Ed Flynn and Annissa Essaibi George were also in support, as was the Carpenters Union.

Sarah Herlihy, co-chair of the Planning Committee for the BVNA, said that “this is the third developer we’ve worked with,” and “we believe that this developer was very sensitive to the concerns raised by the neighbors…we appreciate this developer is going to be transforming what is currently an abandoned and decaying building into a place for new residents…”

William Bernarducci, an abutter on Arlington St., spoke in opposition of the project. He said that he believes the proposal “detracts from the design and scale of the Bay Village historic district,” adding that he believes views from his building will be “negatively and detrimentally impacted.”  He also had concerns about height, density, traffic, and parking.

The ZBA voted to approve the project with BPDA design review.

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