'Underutilized' church could make way for housing, retail on Talbot Avenue in Dorchester

500 Talbot Ave. rendering

Rendering by Rode Architects, showing re-aligned intersection.

JPA Development Co. of Braintree has filed plans to replace Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church at 500 Talbot Avenue, at Argyle Street, with a four-story, 40-unit residential building that would have ground-floor space for both a business and a smaller streetfront church.

The proposal also calls for re-aligning the intersection of Talbot and Argyle.

The proposed building would have 23 parking space in an underground garage and five affordable units.

JPA discusses its proposal for re-aligning the intersection:

The conceptual design plan creates a bend in Argyle Street to intersect with Talbot Avenue at a perpendicular angle. By changing the alignment of Argyle Street, the intersection can accommodate two new public plazas and create a destination for the community. The improvements will also reduce the speed of vehicles travelling through the intersection, increase the visibility of pedestrians, and reinforce the pedestrian desire line along the east side of Talbot Avenue. This design will also propose a raised crossing across Argyle Street so pedestrians can remain at sidewalk level when walking along the corridor. This crossing will be 20 feet wide and emphasize the requirement for vehicles to yield to pedestrians. The existing pedestrian crossing across Talbot Avenue will be relocated approximately 100 feet to the south and will be enhanced with curb bulb outs and new signs alerting drivers of the crosswalk. The proposed street alignment allows for 4 new parking spaces, as well as approximately 4,700 square feet of public space.

500 Talbot Ave. small-project review application (7.5M PDF).

The view along Talbot:

500 Talbot rendering.



Free tagging: 



Seems like a good plan. The

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Seems like a good plan. The current ridiculously wide intersection is just asking for speeding and is a waste of space. And taxpaying retail and affordable housing is a big upgrade over a non taxpaying church.


1/2 and 1/2

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C'mon now. Pot shots at churches aren't helpful, necessary, nor polite.


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...is pointing out that churches don't pay taxes a "pot shot"? It's the truth.

Let me guess

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You are one of the loudest complainers when people talk about colleges not paying taxes, right?

Churches don't even do PILOT.

Nice twofer there. You're

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Nice twofer there. You're hatred of cars and religion exposed yet again in one comment! You do k ow a lot of immigrants are religious folks right? I wonder, are you a closet racist?

Hate To Agree with The Car Hater

He is right. This church has been taking up a lot of space for a lot of years with very little occupancy. True fact, the pastor in the 1980's was named Costello (No relation). The plan is a good plan.

The triangle in front of the church is enormous and I was sure that is was part of the Welles plan of the 1870's to have more grassy space in front of it, but that plan went into effect well before Talbot Avenue was made into an arterial street.

PS - The Welles Family owned this land here and around the church (Washington / Ashmont / the train tracks / Wells Avenue bounds roughly). They put the Ashmont Hill as we know it development plan into motion right when Boston annexed the Town of Dorchester. One of the Hunnewells of West Needham married a Welles girl, loved her so much that after Mr. Hunnewell gave the breakaway West Needham a town hall, they named the town Wellesley.

Makes sense

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If the church no longer has a significant following (which presumably it doesn't or it wouldn't sell the building) then this makes quite a bit of sense. The existing building is also not particularly architecturally significant, and looks like it has seen better days. The proximity to two red line stations is also nice.


More housing is a big win

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More housing is a big win here. Keep it coming!

But, I hope the process results in something architecturally interesting, or at least visually pleasing. This is right around the corner from Peabody Square (featuring Ralph Adams Cram's wonderful All Saints Church), in close proximity to the magnificent architecture of the Ashmont compass.

Can we max out the transit-oriented housing AND have a design we can be proud of? Here's hoping.

A storefront church? Please

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A storefront church? Please no. They add nothing to the vitality of neighborhoods. Fine if not on a main road, but neighborhood retail areas need people, not just on Sunday.

Storefront churches displace useful retail spaces

I've seen a number of streets in Dorchester and Mattapan where storefront churches occupy so many spaces that they are crowding out the useful retail that would actually benefit local residents.

It's a different version of the "too many bank branches kill a retail district" problem that you see in some other neighborhoods.

Once again I’ll note

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This building with some retail along with a space for the church is replacing a church. It’s like griping about a bank replacing a bank.

Good storefront churches have activities several days, or specifically nights, a week. They bring foot traffic. I will not concede that they aren’t good for areas.

So what constitutes Useful Retail

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I've seen a number of streets in Dorchester and Mattapan where storefront churches occupy so many spaces that they are crowding out the useful retail

I live on the top of a hill -- At the bottom of the hill, a five minute walk from here -- there is a small strip of shops providing "useful retail." -- but no storefront church.
Some of the shops are "useful " in the sense of being a place to buy food ready to eat [2 bagel places, one donut place, one pizza and sub place], or to sit and eat [Chinese, indian, mexican], or to buy lottery tickets and newspapers -- that last place to buy some milk or eggs on a Friday Night. or do your own laundry, or have someone do your dry cleaning

These are useful to have local to you

However, there are several storefronts devoted to:

  • some sort of Spa ,
  • some place that does manicures,
  • a bank,
  • a knick knack shop or two
  • and two liquor stores -- with fine selections of wine and beer.
  • a showroom for kitchen renovation
  • a streetfront office of a contractor who does plumbing and electrical work

and one which is has been vacant for the bettor part of a year -- it used to sell furniture

These kind of places are hardly of more value to a community that a storefront church.

RODE Architects

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RODE Architects have done and are doing several other projects in Dorchester: the residential floors above Savin Hill Bar & Kitchen, the commercial and residential building at Savin Hill Ave. & Sydney St., and they will be doing Dot Block, as well as the old Theo's Pizza on Dot Ave. & Elton St. Both partners live in Savin Hill and are committed to Dorchester and the city. I'm glad they're doing this project.