A controversial proposal to turn a long-running auto body shop next to Shawmut Red Line station into an apartment complex will move the city’s review process forward with one less hurdle in its way.
The adjacent Epiphany School – which had openly launched plans to make a competing bid to buy the land in question – is backing down after Trinity Financial, Inc. detailed its rights in a letter sent by its attorney last month.
At issue is control of the Fitzpatrick Brothers auto body property at 150 Center St. Trinity has a buy-and-sell agreement to acquire the land from its longtime owners, whose family has operated a business there for more than 100 years. .
Despite this agreement, Epiphany School leaders approached nearby civic associations to seek support for their own idea to purchase the property to expand the school’s campus. The latest statement of this aspiration came at the July meeting of the Codman Square Neighborhood Council (CSNC), where Epiphany executives said they were ready to make an offer to buy the Fitzpatrick property.
But Trinity, which has developed several notable properties in Dorchester, including the Carruth and Treadmark buildings in Ashmont, had filed plans for review with city officials in mid-June.
Chris Stanley, Trinity’s assistant vice president of design and construction, told The Reporter this week that the company’s attorney sent a letter to Epiphany after the July meeting, which was detailed in an article by the Report.
“The complicated piece that Epiphany added to this is that they were coming up with a development plan that they weren’t allowed to develop,” Stanley said. “We spoke to our lawyers to see what we could do to protect our rights. We have the exclusive right of ownership. The owner said he wanted us to develop it and we have his blessing to move forward.
He added: “We wanted to make our legal rights known and have asked Epiphany to please step aside while we go through this process. It is our right and I believe they have agreed to withdraw.
Epiphany school principal John Finley wrote in an email: “We have indeed received an email from Trinity’s solicitor about this and have learned that Trinity has a (purchase and sale ) with the Fitzpatricks to acquire 150 Center Street. We respect this agreement and will not interfere with it.
Epiphany said she was invited to participate in the formal Section 80 process led by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), and submitted a letter of opposition to the project as a form of stop.
In his letter, which was accompanied by a petition signed by 95 neighbors and neighbours, Finley cited the building’s size and road easement issues that he said could impact student safety, among other things.
“Like our neighbours, we believe transit-oriented residential accommodation on the site makes sense here, but not as Trinity Financial currently offers,” he wrote. “We are open to discussions for more sensitive development at the scale of the surrounding neighborhood.”
Stanley said he hopes Epiphany and other partners will continue to be part of the process and keep an open mind. He said he believed he could persuade neighbors why it was a good project at this site.
“We have a very good track record at Trinity with our projects across the city – including the Carruth and the Treadmark,” he said. “I hope this offers proof that when we talk about things, we deliver and we follow through…That’s part of the reason we wanted to make our intentions clear and unambiguous regarding this property.”
Trinity is due to make a presentation on the project – which includes 81 new rental housing units – at CSNC in September. It is also working on its expanded project notification form to submit to the BPDA, Stanley said.