By John Lynds
Built in 1906 St. Michael the Archangel Parish on Summer Street in Lynn was once the center of the city’s thriving Polish American community. The church was one of only a handful of Polish-American Roman Catholic parishes in the Boston Archdiocese. Sadly the church closed on June 25, 2006 during the Archdiocese restructuring of parishes and has remained vacant ever since.
On Tuesday night the Lynn City Council voted unanimously to approve plans to convert the historic parish into housing.
N.S. Holdings LLC filed a petition for zoning relief with the city. The council needed to approve the petition because St. Michael’s is located in a business district and converting the church into housing is a forbidden use under Lynn zoning codes.
Attorney for the developer, Samuel Vitali, said the plan calls to keep the historic facades and look of the parish’s original buildings, which includes the church, a rectory and school.
Vitale said the developers plans to construct four units in the school, eight units in the rectory and another eight units in the church for a total of 20 condo units.
Also, the developer plans to erect a plaque that commemorates the work and scarifies of Lynn’s Polish American community on the property. The plaque will serve as a reminder of St. Michael’s important role in the development of the city’s Polish American community.
Ward 7 Councilor John Walsh, who grew up in the parish, said when he heard a developer was planning to place residential units at the parish it was a little bittersweet but said the plan is a good one.
“The church is were I grew up, it is were I was baptized, and it was were my parents were married,” said Walsh. “But I drive by the building every day and it’s current condition doesn’t do it any justice and it is starting to deteriorate. I can’t think of a better was to bring some housing and density back to the neighborhood.”
Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano thanked Walsh for working closely with the developer to come up with a plan that works for the neighborhood and the city.
“I want to thank the thoughtfulness of Councilor Walsh for pushing for condos instead of apartments,” said Capano. “I think that is better for the city all around. I think it will be a great fit and a win win for everyone.”
However, At-Large Daniel Cahill wanted a special proviso to be put into the special permit granted by the council for the project. Cahill’s fear was that if the property was ever sold to another entity in the future what would stop another developer from coming in, razing the parish buildings and constructing a mammoth development on the site.
The council voted unanimously to support Cahill’s amendment. The motion approved would force any future purchaser of the property to return back to the council if they plan to deviate from the development proposal in any way that the council approved Tuesday night. Any changes to the current development plan by a future owner of the property would have to come back before the council for review and approvals.
The Lynn City Council also voted to confirm Jeremy Smalley to the Conservation Commission. Smalley was appointed by Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy and the Council’s approval was needed to make his appointment official.
The Council also approved Deputy Police Chief Edward Blake’s request to for a grant. The Lynn Police Department has been designated by the Mayor’s Office to apply for funding under the FY2017 Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant.
“We intend to use these funds as we have in previous years by allocating the funds to the Lynn Juvenile Probation (Department) and to the Lynn Adult Probation (Department) for equipment to support their community policing activities and to the Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development to assist them in continuing their Summer Jobs Program,” said Blake.
The remainder of the funds would go to continue programs within the Police Department. These programs include gang intervention and investigation, maintenance of computer equipment, hardware and software upgrades and Data-Vis, an analytical program used to assist in the operation of the police department.
The Council also voted to approve the city’s use of the Department of Housing and Urban Development appropriations for the Community Development Block Grant, HOME Investment Partnership Grant and the Emergency Solutions Grant.
Donald Walker of the city’s Office of Economic and Community Development explained that the city receives HUD funding each year. This year will total approximately $2.3 million. Walker said the city plans to use $460,000 for housing activities like rehabilitation grants and loans for first time homebuyer programs. Another $180,000 will be used for matching grants with a state in order to undertake a $500,000 rehabilitation of a section of Lynn Commons. Three hundred fifty thousand dollars would be used to leverage small business loans while $280,000 would be used for various infrastructure development improvements. Walker added that $278,000 would be used for two dozen or so public service activities while $620,000 would be used to provide funding for neighborhood stabilization programs. The city will also receive a supplemental grant to cover some operation expenses for the Lynn Shelter, Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development.
The Council also voted unanimously to approve Kettle Cuisine’s request for a sign permit at 330 Lynnway. The business needed a permit because the requested sign exceeds the 32 sq. ft. zoning ordinance. Ward 6 Councilor Peter Capano said it was a ‘good looking sign’ that would ‘look good’ on the building.
Finally the Council voted to table Vicky’s Restaurant’s request for a beer and wine license at its 141 Essex St. location. Council President Darren Cyr said he wanted to wait until he talked with neighbors that abut the business and get a sense and feel for what neighbors think of the proposal.