3 min readBy Published On: May 14th, 2014Categories: News7 Comments

Written by Betsy Walsh Frissora

The future plans for the Gate of Heaven School building, located on 609 East 4th Street, have remained a controversial topic among South Boston residents over the last few years, but especially over the last couple of months.  There are two potential options for the future usage of the building.  The first option is to turn the old school building into yet another luxury condominium complex, which has lead to unanimous opposition.   The most recent option is to allow the building to serve as its original purpose, and potentially be the home of a new charter school. 

Owned by the Gate of Heaven Parish, the building has been vacant since 2009 when the Gate of Heaven School merged with the St. Brigid School to form the South Boston Catholic Academy.   In 2010, the Gate of Heaven Parish announced their plan to sell the building, and use the proceeds to pay for various initiatives such as renovations to the Church, creating a maintenance fund for the church, and a scholarship fund for students at South Boston Catholic Academy.  Since the announcement of the sale, various developers have proposed to turn the building into a luxury condominium development. (Shocking, I know.)  However, the residents of South Boston have made it very clear that they do not want this historical building to be turned into yet another condominium development in South Boston.  (Again, shocking.)

Oranmore Enterprises currently has an agreement with the Archdiocese of Boston to purchase the property and turn the vacant 48,900 sq.ft. four-story building into a 31 unit luxury condominium complex with 40 exterior parking spots.  The building development also boasts a new elevator, 8 individual roof decks and one common roof deck, as well as new landscaping for the lot.  Of the 31 units inside, three would be 730 sq.ft. one bedroom apartments, 21 would be two-bedroom units (roughly 900 – 1460 sq.ft.) and 7 would be three-bedroom units (1600 – 1900 sq.ft.)  4 would qualify as “affordable housing” units.

South Boston residents have been overwhelmingly opposed to the Ornamore Enterprises plan from the beginning.  On April 2nd, the BRA held a meeting reviewing the plans for the building.  Hundreds of South Boston residents along with elected officials including State Representative Nick Collins, Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty and Clerk of Court Michael Donovan were in attendance at the meeting, and showed unanimous opposition to the condo complex.  Leaders spoke out asking the archdiocese to cut off the condominium development proposal and accept one of the charter school proposals.  The mere mention of a potential charter school made the crowd cheer.  At the close of the meeting it was revealed that various charter schools are interested in leasing the building, and that a group of parishioners from the Gate of Heaven Parish mentioned that they were working hard to submit a new proposal to the archdiocese for a charter school.

Mayor Marty Walsh spoke to the controversial topic just last week, and while acknowledging that the development plan has received almost complete opposition, he said that his plan was “to talk to the Gate of Heaven pastor (Father Casey) today and see if a cooling off period might be the way to go.”  Not exactly sure what this means, but hopefully the “cooling off” period will be long enough to allow the parishioners to submit their proposal for a charter school. 

On Wednesday, the

Boston Business Journal reported the controversial proposal has been removed the the BRA’s agenda for Thursday night’s meeting.

7 Comments

  1. Pat Lavey May 14, 2014 at 8:09 pm
    These developers are are taking every available spot in town flipping them for millions and then go on their way, leaving us with more parking problems and arrogant new neighbors. It’s time for our ELECTED officials to help shoot this one down. This means you to Fr.Casey it’s not about making a buck on this one.The gate of heaven school means to much to this community to have it gutted for luxury condos.Lets take it back
  2. Anonymous May 15, 2014 at 2:10 am
    Come up w money and buy it. Then you can put exactly what you want there. If a school can’t pay for the property dont be surprised when a developer eventually gets a proposal through. Turning it into a charter school doesn’t guarantee south boston children seats. Most students will be bused in. They are chosen through a lottery. A school would obviously bea great thing but it may not be economically viable and there really isn’t as many children here anymore. Supply and demand. The demand is for residential units. At some point we have to accept the reality that this is the hottest real estate market in the country. The south boston that we remember is not here anymore. Unfortunate, but reality. Things do change and as much as some would like to blme people for that, it is the way of the world.
    Keeping this and other vacant buildings from moving forward as residential developments is not the best idea for us either.
  3. Anonymous May 15, 2014 at 10:50 am
    You people think you will be able to convince the Archdiocese of Boston to allow the building to be turned into a charter school? Talk about short memories. You really think they will allow that to happen when they wouldn’t keep Gatey open. Stop wasting your time. Most of the kids who would attend this school would just be shipped in from other neighborhoods. Why doesn’t someone just come out and say the truth. They are sick of seeing their neighborhood sold out from under them. These people should cash in now and move to Weymouth or Braintree, along with all the other OFS’s who have done so over the past 10 years.
  4. Anonymous May 15, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Of course the cooling off period is the way to go! We’ve seen this many times. It will slip under the radar during this “cooling off period” and before we know it, development will have already started and there is nothing for us to do. Give us a break! This is already a done deal. God bless this neighborhood. 

  5. Smokey July 11, 2014 at 12:07 am
    The mayor needs the tax dollars. I had to move on order to stay within my means. I don’t expect to live a place I can’t afford. It’s time to stop the blame game and move on. Its not Southie anymore all the home owners who stayed through bussin and bad times cashed out in the good times.
  6. SouthoftheBostonfireworks April 16, 2015 at 3:27 am

    this is back on and there is a zoning board of appeals hearing for this proposal Tuesday April 21, 2015 @ 9:30 am in room 801 city hall. the developer is asking for zoning relief to change from school zone to residential

  7. Murphy Brown April 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    And why are there not many children in Southie anymore???? becasue of exactly this.. schools.. Every one of my neighbors with children.have moved out of the city once children reach shool age.. very sad statement.

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