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City looks to convert closed churches to housing

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Former churches eyed for housing

By Chris Helms/ Chronicle Staff

Thursday, July 8, 2004

The city is hoping to turn at least one of Cambridge's soon-to-be closed Catholic churches into affordable housing.

City planning officials met last month with the Archdiocese of Boston about buying the site of Blessed Sacrament in Central Square, Immaculate Conception on Alewife Brook Parkway or Immaculate Conception-Lithuanian on Windsor Street. Any sale is probably at least four to six months away, according to City Manager Bob Healy.

"We believe that the Blessed Sacrament property in Central Square, in particular, would be an ideal site for housing," Healy wrote in a letter to David O'Brien, director of properties for the archdiocese.

The three parishes are among more than 60 within the archdiocese that will close their doors.

The closings represent a rare opportunity to turn nonresidential properties into housing. Previous conversions of church property include St. Patrick's Parish becoming home to 32 family rental units and turning St. Paul's rectory into public housing, both in the early 1990s.

Blessed Sacrament sits on 20,050 square feet of land on Pearl Street and has an assessed value of $2.6 million. Immaculate Conception occupies 15,656 square feet on Windsor Street and is valued at $1.6 million. The Immaculate Conception on Alewife Brook occupies 6,000 square feet of land, with an assessed value of $591,430.

The archdiocese recently sold two properties on Rindge Avenue, the St. John's School and the Our Lady of Pity campus, which together encompass about five acres of land and will net the archdiocese close to $12 million.

From The Cambridge Chronicle

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