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    South Boston school redevelopment falls through

    A developer had planned to convert the shuttered Gate of Heaven School in South Boston into 26 condominiums.
    Globe Staff/File 2012
    A developer had planned to convert the shuttered Gate of Heaven School in South Boston into 26 condominiums.

    A controversial condominium project in South Boston has fallen through.

    The Archdiocese of Boston and the would-be developer of the Gate of Heaven School building on East Fourth Street said Monday they had let a purchase agreement on the site expire May 31, effectively killing a project that had become a flashpoint in the debate over gentrification in Southie.

    Developer Michael Moore, of Oranmore Enterprises LLC, said church officials had declined to extend his option to buy the site, where he had planned to convert the shuttered school into 26 condominiums. A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed that the option had expired but wouldn’t say why or what might come next for the building, which has been empty since the school closed in 2008.

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    The project won full city approval to launch construction last year but faced stiff opposition from neighbors who feared overcrowding and called it a symbol of South Boston’s gentrification. They collected 2,000 signatures in opposition and last year launched a lawsuit that was threatening to delay development.

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    “WE DID IT,” wrote Kevin Lally, a leader of the Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association in an e-mail to supporters Friday afternoon. Lally did not respond to messages Monday afternoon but in his message he said he hoped neighborhood leaders could sit down soon with church officials to discuss alternative uses for the building.

    It’s not entirely clear why the project — which the archdiocese had long supported — fell through. Moore said his firm had offered more money to extend the option again, but the church declined. He said he had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last two and a half years on planning and permitting.

    “We had invested a lot of money, energy, and will to move this project forward,” Moore said. “We got dumped. That’s life.”

    Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.