Northampton City Council Hosts St. John Cantius Preservation Discussion

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NORTHAMPTON — After an hour-long discussion Thursday about preservation priorities and public access, City Council has referred the St. John Cantius Preservation Plan to the city’s finance committee.

The committee meeting will take place on September 21. The time is not fixed.

O’Connell Development, the new owners of the 109-year-old former church on Hawley Street, is seeking $500,000 of Northampton Community Preservation Act funding to repair the church’s roof and deteriorating brick exterior . It’s part of a $4.6 million plan to build about 10 residences within the church structure.

O’Connell Development, based in Holyoke, had originally sought permission from the city to raze the church. However, they backed down and came up with this plan following public rejection.

James Nash, the council president who represents Ward 3 where the Church is located, said he appreciated the thoughtful discussion. Members of the public and councilors are concerned about the budget and funding priorities of the Community Preservation Act and whether the public will have access to the preserved church.

The building housed a Polish-American congregation before the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield closed Hawley Street Church and Phillips Place as a place of worship in a wave of parish consolidations in 2010.

The diocese sold the property to Holyoke-based O’Connell in 2020 for $1.6 million for a townhouse development.

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