585 Commercial Street - Formerly occupied by Roche Bobois Furniture and former national headquarters for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. (NEWF photo)
585 Commercial Street – Site of a proposed new Boston K-8 Public School – Previously occupied by Roche Bobois Furniture and former national headquarters for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. (NorthEndWaterfront.com photo)

News on the development of 585 Commercial Street has taken a serious turn toward the benefit of Downtown Boston families as the City of Boston is close to acquiring the property for a new K-8 public school, according to people close to the situation.

The new school is expected to open in 2016 and serve 500 students or 2 strands from Kindergarten to the 8th Grade. Preliminary plans call for a school separate from the Eliot K-8 Innovation School, also in the North End. In the interim, the property could be used temporarily by the Eliot as it renovates its own building and phases in use of the recently acquired North Bennet Street School properties.

Even with the expanded Eliot, parents in Downtown have been actively lobbying the city for more school options given an increasing number of families staying in the city. Located at the junction of the North End / Waterfront, West End and Charlestown near the N. Washington St. bridge, the site would be walking distance from several neighborhoods in Downtown Boston. The property at 585 Commercial Street is between the public tennis courts next to the bridge and the State-owned (MassDOT) Steriti Skating Rink. Potential development prospects for the vacant property were recently reported by the Zoning, Licensing and Construction Committee of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association.

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The existing offices at 585 Commercial St. are largely vacant now that the Mitt Romney presidential campaign has left the building. The last permanent ground floor tenant was a retail showroom for Roche Bobois Furniture. The property also includes the private parking lot next to the tennis courts, made famous by Tenacity-gate. 

Mayor Menino is expected to make an official announcement with Boston Public Schools on Friday morning at the site.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I recognize the need for more public schools in or near our neighborhood and this is good news for families with small children. Also, maybe now the sidewalk in front of 585 will get shoveled in the winter because it certainly never is now. On the other hand, the neighborhood is already getting more school space with the expansion of the Eliot. Also, traffic circulation on that part of Commercial Street is already slowed/impeded by the narrowing of the road to accommodate a bike lane and by the frequent funerals that double park in front of the funeral home there. 500 kids a day, with attendant school buses, parents and teachers. Maybe turning the parking lot into the designated pick-up and drop-off waiting point for school buses is the solution. The present drop-off/pick-up situation at the other end of Charter Street (where the Eliot School is) already creates a problem for circulating traffic.

      • the north end has never had a public high school in the old days before busing if you did not attend julie billiart or christoper columbus..the majority of students went to charlestown high.. and mind you many students from out of town attended the catholic high schools..embrace education for they will be taking care of us in 20-30 years.

    • Traffic nightmare could essentially be avoided, if it was a high school, because the high schools kids have to take public transportation.

  2. This js such great news for families who want to raise their kids in the city. This keeps families in our downtown neighborhoods! Thank you so much to the Mayor and our local leaders for making this happen. This is also such a win for the North End. Previous bids to develop this property have been very disadvantageous for us- height restrictions, access to the waterfront…

    • How much real estate tax is the city losing out on? Would rather have seen a private developer. I understand how people who have kids in the North End feel but…I have to think the amount of kids in the is a lot less than 10 years ago. Many of the kids I know in the North End go to private school anyway.

  3. Seems a little dangerous to have young kids right next to a busy road and the water. They will need some serious fencing to keep the kids in.

    Also, can you imagine the nightmare when there is a funeral at the same time the buses are dropping off the kids?

    • Absolutely, but it’s also good news for those of us without kids or (as in my case) grown kids. It promotes and retains families in the neighborhood and a healthy mixed demographic. Great move by the city!

  4. It is great news, having ROOM to educate Boston’s children is more important than traffic jams or real state tax revenue. Great cities embrace families, Boston needs to continue to work towards that goal, it is important today and it will grant us all a better future.

  5. I just hope they keep the walking path next to the tennis courts and behind the building open to the public when they open the school. I use that park every day in the summer and would really miss having access to the Harborwalk from there. Behind this building and the ice rink is a great place to let your dog off the leash without having to worry about traffic.

  6. Wonderful news! This is great for all the families in ALL the downtown neighborhoods – especially Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the West End – which don’t have public schools in their neighborhood. There are more and more families staying downtown and now they can have a chance to send their kids to public school downtown. This trend of families staying in the city is just going to continue – young professionals who work downtown deciding to make life simple by staying in the city, walking to work, walking their kids to school and enjoying all this small city has to offer. Great move Boston!

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