Long-vacant South End building gets facelift to accommodate veterans

A long vacant South End building where a body was found is getting a facelift and will be converted into five permanently affordable apartments for veterans.

The developer, Mathieu Zahler, owner of MPZ Development LLC, made an offer on 34 E. Springfield St. in February 2020, and the previous owner, the Boston Housing Authority, sold it to him later that year.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to do something exciting, to create a place that some veterans could call home,” Zahler said. “We are in a housing crisis, so every unit is helping.”

The city’s annual homeless census found that there were at least 158 ​​homeless veterans this year.

The building previously housed three public housing units, said Boston Housing Authority spokesman Brian Jordan.

“However, due to the need for major capital upgrades to the property and the lack of sufficient federal funding, it had been vacant for several years,” Jordan said. “This project will restore the property to good brick condition and provide safe, modern and affordable housing for veterans in the Boston area who are in desperate need of housing assistance.”

Although the five one-bedroom apartments are modern, the brick facade will be redone to look like it did when it was built in 1880, Zahler said.

“It’s beautiful in itself,” he said.

More importantly, the building will remain affordable in perpetuity, a requirement of the mayor’s housing office, Zahler said. Veterans will pay 30% of their income, with a cap of $49,100, or 50% of the region’s median income, he said.

Construction began June 3 and is expected to be completed by June 2023, Zahler said.

The total cost of the project is $3.7 million, which will be paid through a public-private partnership.

“The new development at 34 E. Springfield St. is a victory for veterans and for the South End neighborhood,” said BHA Administrator Kate Bennett. “We are transforming an aging and vacant property into a resource that will provide affordable housing for veterans in the Boston area.”

At the moment there is scaffolding ahead and the interior has been gutted. But Tom Downard, who lives a few doors down, said the project, when complete, will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The building had been vacant for years and a man’s body was found in a hallway in 2000, shortly after Downard moved into his house.

“It will be a really positive change and it feels really good on the street,” he said. “Veterans are a group of people who are often overlooked. We think they are at home, and that’s enough. But it’s never enough. »

  • BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler, who is...

    BOSTON, MA – August 6: Developer Mathieu Zahler rehabilitating building at 34 East Springfield St for homeless veterinary housing on August 6, 2022 in , BOSTON, MA. (Staff Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)