By Seth Daniel
A long-time Jewish temple on Nahant Avenue will now serve as veterans housing, after the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) unanimously approved a 30-unit mixed-use project last week brought by the Nakashian brothers.
The project, which has had a very positive neighborhood meeting, was approved last Wednesday, Sept. 28, by a vote of 5-0. Rob and John Nakashian of ARM Construction brought the project to the ZBA.
“The fact it’s a combination of veterans preference housing and one-bedroom units – that made it a very appealing project,” said Attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio, who represented the owners at the ZBA. “It was something where there is a need for such units. Veterans are an underserviced community and there is not a great deal of veterans housing going up across the state.”
The project, which has a veterans preference and is open to the entire state, would contain 30, one-bedroom units with retail on the ground level. In the basement, there would be a build out for veterans’ services, where federal case workers could set up when they are on site to help veterans in the development with services.
The five-story building would have eight units on the second, third and fourth floors, with six units on the fifth floor. A retail operation would exist in the ground floor.
“The idea was to engage the sidewalk,” said D’Ambrosio. “The walls are collapsible walls so in the summer people can walk in and out.”
D’Ambrosio said the Temple B’Nai Israel had fallen into disrepair in recent years and was not as active as it once had been. There was a time in the past when it was one of the largest temples in the area, routinely having to shut down Nahant Street so that services could be held – especially on Jewish holidays. However, those days are long gone and the temple had been sparsely attended for years. It stopped having regular services a few years back when Rabbi Abraham Teitel passed away in 2011.
“I think the fact it is serving veterans helps to continue its legacy of serving the community,” said D’Ambrosio. “There will be a memorial as part of the project commemorating the old temple.”
The developers plan to break ground in the spring, with a demolition of the old temple some time in early 2017.