By Seth Daniel
The old St. Therese’s Church on Broadway was well known for spending nearly 1,500 days in a vigil protest of the closing of the beloved Parish.
Since that vigil ended, it’s simply been vacant, though many have hoped it could find a use that served the community in a spirited way.
Now the time has finally come, with Mayor Carlo DeMaria and officials from The Neighborhood Developers (TND) in Chelsea announcing a project to develop senior and middle-income housing for the campus.
Mayor DeMaria said he is excited to have welcomed TND into the community – as they already serve neighboring communities of Chelsea and Revere – to develop a very important site on Broadway.
“We’re excited to have brought them into Everett with the help of Sen. Sal DiDomenico and State Rep. Joe McGonagle,” he said. “Senior Housing and Affordable Housing is a top priority of mine. I don’t want people who have lived here all their lives to not be able to stay here.”
Aaron Wasserman, director of real estate for TND, said they have filed their project official and will have a hearing at the Zoning Board of Appeals on Dec. 4.
“We’re hoping to offer 77 units of rental apartments to seniors, which will be defined as age 62 and up,” he said. “Our plan will be to build a new building on the site with 77 units in a new five-story building. On the ground floor will be a new health clinic focused on seniors and operated by East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC).
“We’re certainly very excited about the opportunity,” he continued. “We’re very glad to have been invited by Mayor DeMaria and introduced by others to work in Everett. As an organization, TND is looking complement what is already happening in Everett. We’re excited and enthusiastic about everything that’s happened to date.”
The plan is specifically to build the new building with 77 senior apartment units, and a ground floor senior-focused clinic. Also on the site – on the Gledhill Street side – will be six new townhouses that will be offered for purchase to those qualifying as middle-income families. Those homes will be offered at a range of prices aimed at middle-income families in the workforce.
Wasserman said they have developed senior housing in Revere, especially, in recent years – with a large senior housing building opening a couple of years ago there.
In Everett, he said they have a similar idea, but are looking to improve on what they have done – specifically on the partnership with EBNHC for the clinic in the ground floor.
Additionally, an existing garden on the site will be re-designed and retained for community open space.
In addition to the St. Therese’s proposal, Wasserman said they are looking at some other services to offer in Everett.
“We’re going to evaluate how our other programs we’ve operated a long time in Chelsea and Revere would also work in Everett too,” he said.
St. Therese’s Parish was one of several that were slated to close in the early 2000s by the Archdiocese of Boston. However, Parishioners prevented that from happening by having a 24-hour vigil at the church that ran from 2005 to late 2008. It lasted nearly 1,500 days and was primarily conducted by devoted elderly residents – sometimes keeping things going in the winter months despite not having any heat.
However, since the vigil ended several years ago, the building has sat vacant and for sale.