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South Boston residents object to latest condo proposal

The condos would be built on Old Harbor Street on South Boston’s east side, replacing this shrine to the Virgin Mary.Harrison Hill for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

Residents of Old Harbor Street in South Boston, fighting a condominium complex planned for a plot of land with a quaint garden and a statue of the Virgin Mary , said Tuesday the new housing will make their longstanding parking problems even worse.

The campaign sprung up after the Marian Manor nursing home decided to sell one of its nearby parcels on Old Harbor to the Cronin Group, a Boston-based developer.

"There just isn't enough space," said Phyllis Allison, 54, who has lived a few houses from the piece of land in the Dorchester Heights area for a decade. "All conversations in South Boston come back to parking."


About 30 people who live near the planned nine-unit condo complex attended a meeting held by the Cronin Group Tuesday night at Marian Manor. Not one person in the audience voiced support for construction of the condos, which need the approval of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Allison and others worry that new condo residents would exacerbate the parking woes in the area.

Kristin Flaherty Ventresca, 50, has lived on Old Harbor Street for 20 years. She said residents can be circling "for hours" trying to find a space if they get home too late past 6 p.m.

"You don't go out after 7 p.m.," Ventresca said. "Our quality of life is just really suffering."

Michael Kineavy, chief operating officer for Cronin, said the developer understands the concerns of the community and has been working with residents to tailor the building plan to address them.

"We feel that on this site, that our proposal, which was changed throughout the community process, fits in with the current streetscape, and throughout the process we didn't want to build something that was too big and didn't fit in," Kineavy said.

Sister Teresa Stephen, administrator of Marian Manor, said profits from the sale would go back into the nursing home.


Kineavy said he thought the last community meeting in the winter went well and relations with residents were positive.

But those on hand Tuesday night disagreed, challenging Kineavy and his associates.

"It doesn't feel like we have a voice," Ventresca said before the disgruntled group, who felt that developers and the city were not considering population density.

The complex, a mix of one- and two-bedroom condominiums totaling 15 beds, would have 11 parking spots, which is more than is required by the city, Kineavy said.

Many living on Old Harbor cannot see how that is enough.

Romeo Mirzac, 40, another Old Harbor Street resident, wants to see the project cut to six units.

Kineavy is set to bring the proposal to the zoning board on Tuesday. He said after the meeting he would continue to "work on the parking" concerns.

Attendees said Tuesday night that they could not see how any residents could support the plan, but Kineavy said that some do favor the building and are writing letters of support.

Eric Prentis, the mayor's South Boston liaison, was on hand and said it is normal that people in support do not attend these types of meetings.

After the meeting, a group of eight residents gathered by the shrine to plan who would go to speak to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

"We've gone too far in Southie with population density," Ventresca said. "We can't absorb any more people, cars, or condos."


Sara DiNatale can be reached at sara.dinatale@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @sara_dinatale.