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Eye-popping design unveiled for condos in former South End church

A rendering of the proposed development at 136 Shawmut Ave. in the South End, on the site of the former Holy Trinity German Catholic church.Finegold Alexander Architects/Courtesy of Finegold Alexander Architects

Massive developments are sprouting up all over the booming South End — think the 378-unit Troy Boston or the block-spanning Ink Block complex. But a much smaller project proposed nearby is promising to turn at least as many heads as its hulking neighbors.

South End-based developer New Boston Ventures unveiled a dramatic plan to build a 58,000-square-foot boutique condominium building on the site of the former Holy Trinity German Catholic Church and rectory on Shawmut Avenue, built in 1877.

In a rendering, the eight-story glass-and-steel building bursts through of the church’s roof, metal beams carrying the lines of the stone buttresses skyward in an eye-popping mix of classic and contemporary architecture.


“You could tear it down and start over, which would be a tragedy — you’d lose the details, the social and religious history,” said architect James Alexander, who led the building’s design team at Finegold Alexander + Associates. “But re-using it as it was, with the shape of the roof and the square footage, it just wouldn’t generate the return.”

Alexander and his team, along with New Boston Ventures, fine-tuned the design over several consultations with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Officials there asked the designers to move the front of the new structure back from the street, so the church’s central tower would remain visually prominent.

The building at 136 Shawmut, in the so-called New York Streets area, would contain 33 condos; a basement garage equipped with a stacking system would fit 28 cars. The proposal is expected to come before the BRA for approval in April.

New Boston Ventures and Finegold Alexander previously collaborated on a similar project in Salem, turning a crumbling granite-walled jail there into luxury apartments.

Dan Adams can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @DanielAdams86.