• East Boston residents upset at plan to convert landmark into condominiums

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    BOSTON - Out with the old, in with the new.

    In East Boston, Our Lady of Mount Carmel has stood for 114 years, becoming a landmark for the heavily Latino and religious community.

    But now, what once was a place of worship will be turned into condominiums after the Boston Archdiocese sold the church to a developer for $3 million in 2015.

    Now, nearly five years later, the developer, Franklin Grove LLC, is preparing to drastically change the buildings on Frankfort and Gove streets, but not all residents are happy about the decision.

    "It's like they're just pushing us out," said Paul Difeo, a long-time East Boston resident. "Everybody who grew up here is getting pushed out." 

    The 47-year-old says the new plans to convert the church into apartments is taking away the essence of the neighborhood and the community in it.

    "This was, this is like the face of the neighborhood," said Difeo. "They're going to ruin it." 

    Built in 1905, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the church where Difeo's parents got married, as well as his grandparents.

    "Just the community that we had here," said Difeo. "All that, everything is gone. The feeling of community is just gone." 

    Franklin Grove is just waiting on the final approval from the city to start the $50 million project, which includes knocking down the former rectory and convent as part of the condominium construction. they also still need approval from the Boston Landmark Commission.

    The plan includes building 108 units, including 14 for affordable housing and adding 84 parking spaces.

    "You need a lot more than that for this area," said Danny Gessner, an East Boston resident. 

    Gessner lives next door to the church and says he wants to see more parking and affordable housing.

    "I'd like to see them get more units in here, but I think it should be affordable housing first," said Gessner.

    Some residents are wondering how much more congested the area will be, and how much harder it'll be for people to find on-street parking.

    "It makes it for a very congested environment," said Amanda Stegmann, an East Boston resident. 

    Difeo says it's hard to watch his neighborhood change so much in such little time.

    "It's changing, yes, but I don't think it's changing for the best," said Difeo.

    In a statement, Franklin Grove told Boston 25 News:

    "The owners and development team understand the importance of preserving the former church and understand the sentimental value the building holds for former parishioners and residents of the East Boston community."

    Until the final okay is given to the project, no construction date has been set.

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