The following is a letter sent to the Hyde Square Task Force from the Friends of the Blessed Sacrament Church requesting an open, transparent community process during the selection of a developer for the church. We were pleased to hear that the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) has received several formal offers to purchase the Blessed Sacrament Church building, and that there is interest in the property beyond condo developers. We are also encouraged by recent statements that HSTF will prioritize a buyer that appreciates the significance of the church building to the Boston Latin Quarter and that HSTF will be considering community benefit as well as financial benefit and make sure any future buyer listens to the voices and concerns of the Latin Quarter community. As you consider proposals to develop the church, Friends of Blessed Sacrament requests that HSTF create a process where the community gets a chance to meet potential developers and give input and feedback before HSTF makes a final decision. Specifically, we request that before taking a board vote to select a developer, the HSTF hold one or more public meetings where the community can hear from potential developers and give their feedback and comments.
The Hyde Square Task Force announced that the sale of the Blessed Sacrament Church will eventually be sold to a developer that will do something with the property that benefits the community. The Hyde Square Task Force Board of Directors emailed an update in English and Spanish to provide an update to the community. The board reiterated that they decided to sell the old church after six years of exploring ways to turn it into a community space. But they ultimately decided they didn't want to do a multi-million dollar campaign to transform the church. After announcing they would sell the property, many community members were frustrated that a community space was not being created, and that HSTF would sell the property to a developer.
For two days in a row the Boston Fire Department visited the Blessed Sacrament Church to attend to falling stones from the building. On Nov. 24, the Boston Fire Department tweeted that, "Some of the beautiful coping stones have show they're aging by falling to the steps below." No injuries were caused by the falling stones. The Blessed Sacrament Church is owned by Hyde Square Task Force, which purchased it in 2014 with the intent of redeveloping it into a community center.
I am writing as a community leader about the recent news that Hyde Square Task Force is planning to sell Blessed Sacrament Church with no restrictions. When I moved in 1972 from Mission Hill to Forbes Street in Jamaica Plain, the Blessed Sacrament Church became my place of worship, until 2002, when the doors were closed by the Archdiocese of Boston. In 1980 I started as a community organizer to create community and engage residents, including the Latino community. We got help from Sister Virginia Mulhern and Father Donahue at Blessed Sacrament, plus Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC.) We worked together to lobby and advocate for justice and affordable housing. Blessed Sacrament Church was a center of our work for social justice.
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.