Pennrose to Convert Historic School in Boston into Affordable, LGBTQ-Friendly Seniors Housing

BOSTON — Pennrose Development and LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc. have unveiled plans to convert the historic William Barton Rogers Middle School in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood into an LGBTQ-supported affordable seniors housing community.

The $33 million project will transform the existing structure into 74 units of income-restricted rental units. Tenants must be at least age 62, and the community will be “specifically welcoming to seniors who identify as LGBTQ,” according to the developers.

“As Boston’s residents continue to age, the need for safe, affordable housing that is welcoming to all remains essential,” says Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. “This new development will be an incredible asset to the neighborhood, offering seniors housing, along with community gardens, walking trails, and other community benefits.”

Boston-based architecture firm DiMella Shaffer designed the project.

Of the 74 total income-restricted rental units in the new Barton Rogers development, eight will be rented to households or individuals who are homeless or who require rental assistance. Another eight will be “deeply affordable units” for seniors whose income is between approximately $25,000 and $40,000 per year.

In addition, 34 units will be available to households earning less than 60 percent of area median income (AMI), about $55,000 for a two-person household. The remaining units will be rented to households earning up to 80 percent AMI (eight units) and 100 percent AMI (16 units).

The William Barton Rogers Middle School was built in 1899 on 74,000 square feet of land in Hyde Park neighborhood, Boston’s southernmost neighborhood, about eight miles from the city’s downtown. It was named in honor of William Barton Rogers, a geologist, physicist and educator who was the primary founder and first president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

The original building was expanded twice, once in 1920 and then again in 1934. In the more than 100 years of its operation as a Boston public school, it served as a high school, and then as a middle school. Before its closure in June of 2015, the Rogers School put an emphasis on the performing arts and the tenet of inclusivity for all, according to the developers.

“With the housing boom Boston has been witnessing, we need to ensure housing for our seniors, especially for the underserved LGBTQ community,” says Philippe Saad, associate principal at DiMella Shaffer. “Innovative partnerships like this one will serve as a model for opportunity. It paves the way towards integrating older adults in their community by providing spaces that are inclusive and multigenerational by design.”