For Immediate Release
October 30, 2010
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today joined the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC), New Atlantic Development Corporation (NADC), Harvard University officials, and community members in celebrating the new Doña Betsaida Gutiérrez Housing Cooperative, located at the corner of Centre and Creighton Streets. The mixed-use building, named for a long time Jamaica Plain activist, is the latest completed phase of affordable housing development at the $50 million Blessed Sacrament parish site.
Today’s ribbon cutting ceremony also marked the formal start of the third phase, which includes the renovation of the 13,700 square-foot former convent into 28 Single-Room-Occupancy units. Upon completion in early 2011, the campus will boast a total of 81 new housing units and over 7,500 square feet of retail space, totaling $28 million. Among other attributes, residents will benefit from an outdoor plaza for community gatherings and 145 off-street parking spaces.
"Today, we’re celebrating the evolution of the Blessed Sacrament parish site, and the new life that this redevelopment brings to the streetscape, the Hyde Square neighborhood, and the community at large," said Mayor Menino. "The progress that the Doña Betsaida Gutiérrez Housing Cooperative demonstrates would not be possible without the tremendous commitment of JPNDC, New Atlantic, and their partners. But I especially want to commend the neighbors for their dedication to bringing new, quality, affordable housing to Jamaica Plain."
In 2004, the Archdiocese of Boston announced the closure of the 115-year-old Blessed Sacrament parish in Hyde Square, prompting parishioners, residents and small businesses to work with the City and local organizations to develop a suitable plan for its reuse. Under the leadership of JPNDC and NADC, more than 1,400 signatures were collected in support of affordable housing and other uses that would benefit the Jamaica Plan community. The development team subsequently acquired the church and the 3.2 acres on which it sits in 2005.
The Doña Betsaida Gutiérrez Housing Cooperative boasts 36 units of affordable rental housing, 12 of which are already occupied, and 7,600 square feet of ground-floor retail space that is expected to house at least one new restaurant. Of the new units, 20 will be marketed to households at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI); eight of the units will be marketed to households at or below 30% of AMI; four of the units will be set-aside for participants of the Community Based Housing program through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and the remaining four units will be set aside for formerly homeless residents.
Construction of the $15 million mixed-use building began last fall, following completion of the development’s first phase, Creighton Commons, through which the former parish rectory was renovated into 16 units of affordable homeownership housing.
The development has been made possible, in part, by a City contribution totaling more than $4.3 million, including $1.2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. Mayor Menino credited this substantial city investment to the leadership of Senator John Kerry, Congressman Michael Capuano, and Congressman Stephen Lynch, calling Massachusetts’s delegation instrumental in Boston maintaining a strong economy.
Blessed Sacrament is also one of the largest Boston-based recipients of funds made possible by the Harvard 20/20/2000 Initiative; a total of $1.3 million in low-interest loans through both Boston Community Capital and the Local Initiative Support Corporation supported the site acquisition as well as construction financing for Blessed Sacrament’s Phase I. The ribbon cutting was also an occasion to recognize the overall impact of the 20/20/2000 initiative, which celebrates its tenth year this year.
"Supporting the supply of affordable housing in Cambridge and Boston is just one of the many ways that Harvard is working to improve our local communities," said Harvard President Drew Faust. "We are pleased to join with the leadership of both cities on the 20/20/2000 Initiative, which has helped to finance nearly one out of every six units built in Cambridge and Boston and provided many local working families with homes."
Harvard 20/20/2000 was launched in 2000, in response to a growing need for affordable housing following the end of rent control in the 1990s, during which Boston and Cambridge both witnessed skyrocketing housing costs while federal and state resources declined. Leaders in Boston and Cambridge made increasing the supply of affordable housing a priority and Harvard responded with the initiative that included $10 million of low interest loans to non-profit housing agencies in each city coupled with $1 million in direct grants to local agencies to explore innovative approaches to affordable housing development. To date, 4,350 units of affordable housing in neighborhoods of Boston and Cambridge have been supported with 20/20/2000 funds.
Additional funding was made available by: Boston Community Capital; Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development; Affordable Housing Trust Fund; the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; MassDevelopment; Massachusetts Housing Partnership; Property and Casualty Initiative; US Bank, and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.