The Hyde Square Task Force will be selling the Blessed Sacrament Church property after two years of being unable to find a partner to redevelop it into a community center.
The Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) purchased the property in 2014, and has been carrying $500,000 in debt, and expenses for the building cost more than $100,000 annually, according to a press release. In 2014, HSTF provided a tour of some of the closed-to-the-public areas of the church.
"Dedicating our resources, solely, to meet the needs of our youth is the only way we can fulfill our core mission and that is why the HSTF Board of Directors voted to sell the former Blessed Sacrament Church,” said HSTF Executive Director Celina Miranda.
The original plan was for a performing arts center with space for community events, but a 2019 request for proposal seeking investors failed to generate interest.
That left the board to examine three options: pursue renovations that could cost millions; demolish and build a new facility, which would cost millions of dollars; or sell the property.
Blessed Sacrament was originally a sister church of St. Thomas Aquinas, Jamaica Plain's first parish. That happened in the early 20th century and there was a wooden church on site at first, said Gretchen Grozier, Board President of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.
Construction of the current brick building began in 1913, according to the Jamaica Plain Historical Society. The Archdiocese of Boston closed the church in 2002 in the wake of the priest sex abuse scandals. The Archdiocese deconsecrated the church and sold all the buildings, said Grozier. The windows, pews and other decorative elements were also removed and have been used in other active churches.
In 2005, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and New Atlantic Development bought the campus from the Archdiocese.
JPNDC still owns and manages the campus as a whole, and owns four buildings of affordable housing, said Sally Swenson, Fundraising & Communications Director for JPNDC. JPNDC sold one of the former schools on the site and the church to the Hyde Square Task Force. There is a seventh building owned by a private developer.
Colliers has been hired to begin the sale of the building. Potential buyers will be asked for access to space in whatever happens to the site, but that won't be a requirement.
And like all industries, the recent international public health emergency has impacted the decision.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, HSTF, like many other non-profit organizations in Boston, has been confronted with unprecedented challenges. This public health and financial crisis has caused us to quickly adapt to a new normal, while at the same time still meeting the needs of our most important constituency – our youth,” said Miranda.
Miranda said there will be an August 6th (6 pm) virtual community meeting for members of the HSTF, and other key stakeholders, to share information and explain the process that resulted in the board’s decision to sell the property.