After the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) rejected the required variances to convert the former St. Catherine’s of Siena Church in Charlestown into a health center back in September–the board had a change of heart Tuesday.
The ZBA approved plans for the North End Waterfront Community Health Center (NEWCHC) to convert the church into a health center and pharmacy in a building nearby.
The proposal received widespread support from the neighborhood council, elected officials and the mayor.
The 120 year old church, that was once the center of social and religious life, has been closed for more than a decade.
Last year the 22,000 sq. ft. Church went up for sale. The NEWCHC stepped in to develop the project but ran into some roadblocks with the ZBA despite community support. The ZBA in September sided with union opposition to the project due to Suffolk Construction being involved in the development.
However, the ZBA revisited the proposal and gave their stamp of approval Tuesday.
“After months of hard work, the path has been cleared for new health center to open a health center near the Bunker Hill housing development in Charlestown,” NEWCHC posted in a statement after the ZBA’s vote.
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said he was very pleased with the decision.
“In other parts of District 1 I’ve seen how the development of a health center becomes an anchor development for a community, said LaMattina. “For example, in East Boston we took an old parking lot and transformed it into the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s new home. That project created jobs, provided much needed expanded health care and helped boost the local economy as employees and patients stop in at local restaurants and shops. I’m very excited about this development coming to Charlestown.”
NEWCHC is an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and extends its world-renowned healthcare services to people who live and work in and around Boston’s North End and Waterfront neighborhoods.