Discussions resume on reuse of St. Anne's Church
by Bill Kirk, Eagle Tribune
Talk about coming full circle.
St. Anne's Church and Parish Hall have been pretty much empty since they were sold by the Boston Archdiocese more than 30 years ago.
Owned by Richard DeRosas and his company Paramount Development Group, the site has been eyed for the last 15 years as a possible community arts and theater site.
In 2006, plans were drawn up and a feasibility study was done to convert the historic structures.
But then the recession hit in 2008, city support flagged, and the project was more or less shelved. In 2016, the owners even announced they were ready to sell the buildings.
More recently, however, the prospects for St. Anne's have improved as the city of Lawrence experiences a renaissance of sorts, with its mill buildings becoming filled with homes and businesses, schools on the mend, and city finances cleaned up.
That has set the stage for DeRosas, who never did sell the building, to begin looking once again at converting the beloved old church into a place for local and visiting artists, performances, weddings, conventions and concerts.
"We changed our minds on selling it," DeRosas said. "We want this for the city. We are going to hang in there and make sure the city gets what it deserves. We think its the right thing to do."
In January a steering committee made up of City Councilor Ana Levy, state Sen. Barry Finegold, Northern Essex Community College President Lane Glenn, Wendy Luzon of the city's Planning Department, theater consultant Don Hirsch, consultant Maggie Super Church, DeRosas and several others hosted a series of focus groups to get input from the community on what should happen to the two buildings.