HBI to Restore St. James African Orthodox Church

Boston, MA – Historic Boston Inc. (HBI) has completed acquisition of St. James African Orthodox Church in Roxbury and is continuing to work with the Highland Park neighborhood to determine specific new uses for the 50 Cedar St. property.

HBI paid Brookline-based City Realty Group $1.4 million for the building and land. The property includes an existing church building measuring 8,000sf and a parking lot of approximately 9,000sf.

The church will be preserved under a plan devised by the office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh and HBI. HBI expects to undertake a full rehabilitation of the building and to restore the grandeur of the two-story sanctuary space.

HBI will work with the Highland Park Neighborhood Coalition to create a mixed-use plan for the site that creates housing in form of both home ownership units and affordable rental housing, as well as work spaces with community access in the sanctuary area.

Support from the Highland Park neighborhood is essential for this project to go forward, and plans will be presented and discussed at further public meetings before any decisions are made on the future of the property.

The church is in distressed condition, having been neglected for years. HBI is planning a $5 million adaptive reuse effort, tentatively as a co-working space for area entrepreneurs and artists in the church’s sanctuary, with affordable housing units on the church’s ground level.

The Kuehn Foundation and the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust are supporting due diligence and predevelopment costs for the project.

“It has been made clear by local residents that this church has been an integral part of their community for many years and still has an important role to play in the neighborhood’s future. We will continue to work closely with Historic Boston as they engage in an open dialogue with the community about the long-term future of this site,” Walsh said in a recent statement.