Restoration Brings New Type of Congregation to Historic Church Site

Home . Impact Story . Restoration Brings New Type of Congregation to Historic Church Site

Article written by Mark Heschmeyer and published by CoStar News.


A developer partnership between Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, PeakMade Real Estate and Blue Vista Capital Management has transformed the former St. Gabriel’s church and monastery in Brighton, Massachusetts, into a new congregation of young urban professionals and graduate students.


The project: The developers acquired the extensively water-damaged 11.6-acre property in 2015, planning for a comprehensive redevelopment into a multifamily rental community. That work was completed last year with the debut of the 555-unit Overlook at St. Gabriel’s, which preserved the historic features of the Italian Renaissance-style church while creating housing with four new residential buildings.


Why it matters: The restoration and repositioning of St. Gabriel’s not only preserved the architectural heritage of the structures, which are distinctive contributors to early 20th century religious architecture, it brought back the original purpose of the property as a gathering space in the Brighton Center neighborhood. The project also turned the previously abandoned, dilapidated buildings into a viable source of tax revenue for the city and a showcase property.


The team: Boston-based Cabot, Cabot & Forbes has developed more than 60 million square feet of space throughout the United States — including offices, shopping centers, hotels and residences in Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Baltimore. PeakMade manages and develops apartments across the nation with a focus on college markets. Chicago-based Blue Vista invests across all U.S. property sectors.


What they’re saying: “It was a real interesting development challenge and design challenge and was a multiyear effort to get it approved and ultimately to get it built and to do so through the midst of COVID-19 setbacks,” said Jeff Githens, president of development at PeakMade. “That just made it not only a challenging effort but a very rewarding effort.”


There were a number of historically designated components to the site that needed to be retained and incorporated into the development plan. These challenges included preserving nearly 3 acres of landscaping and a 50-year-old shrine open to the public.


New amenities: The church building now includes recreation and study spaces for residents. Outside, the developers extended the monastery path to create a promenade that links the multifamily buildings with the surrounding Brighton area.


“It’s so unique for Boston and maybe anywhere in the U.S. given the renovation of the church, which is just a large amenity center with seating, gathering areas, a community kitchen, conference rooms, a large fitness center. There’s a cemetery there. It probably is one of the most unique properties that you’ll see for a multifamily development,” Githens said. “We’ve got a really diverse group of residents from graduate students to young professionals, and empty nesters. We have a Boston Red Sox baseball player. It’s just kind of a melting pot, which is what we were targeting as our market.”



CoStar’s Impact Awards highlight the commercial real estate transactions and projects that have transformed their markets over the past year. The winners are chosen by independent panels of industry professionals who work in the markets they judge. A list of judges can be found here and the criteria for selecting winners can be found  here.

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