Archdiocese selling properties to raise needed cash

The five properties have a combined assessed value of $10.6 million, though they have not been listed with specific selling prices. The archdiocese “would like to get the highest price available” and is asking interested buyers to make reasonable offers, according to Tom Mertens, the archdiocese’s chief financial officer.

“We certainly know that there’s a need for cash, whether that be monies to be placed in a fund for victims or used in operations as we move through the (bankruptcy) process here,” Mertens said.

The church is selling its properties voluntarily and not under court order, Mertens said.

The properties, listed for sale more than a month ago, are the only ones being considered for sale at this time, Mertens said.

They include:

  • The chancery and archbishop’s residence, 226 and 230 Summit Avenue. Though there are two addresses, the property consists of one structure that houses administrative offices and the archbishop’s residence. “Built in 1963 by Minneapolis-based Cerny Associates, the chancery is modern in design, a stark stylistic contrast to the Beaux Arts Cathedral of St. Paul across the street,” according to a story about the for-sale properties May 21 in the Catholic Spirit, the archdiocese’s official newspaper. The first to inhabit the new building, which succeeded a handful of other archbishop residences, was Archbishop Leo Binz.

Assessed value: $6.3 million

  • The Hayden Center, 328 W. Kellogg Blvd. The building, constructed in 1918 and named after Msgr. Ambrose Hayden, housed the parish school for the Cathedral of St. Paul until 1979, the Catholic Spirit reported. It now houses most of the archdiocese’s administrative operations and staff.

Assessed value: $2.4 million

  • The Dayton Building and nearby vacant lot, 244 and 250 Dayton Ave. The Dayton Avenue building now houses the Catholic Spirit but was built in 1922 to house the chancery. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Assessed value: $1.4 million for the building, $113,000 for the lot

  • l The Hazelwood property, 10310 295th St. W., Northfield, Minn. This 10-acre property has one home on it and was donated to the archdiocese by a family many years ago. No one lives there permanently, but it’s used occasionally on weekends as a “getaway” for the archbishop or bishop, according to Mertens.

Assessed value: $385,700

If and when the properties are sold, the archdiocese will look for a new location for the offices.

“We’ve had some preliminary looks at properties within a 10-mile radius of our current location,” Mertens said. “It’s too early to determine where we would go. … Our preference would be to have our entire staff under one roof and in one location.”

Mertens said the archdiocese is leaning more toward leasing a space than buying.

There is no strict deadline to sell the properties, though it would be helpful to have them sold by Nov. 30, the deadline set by the federal bankruptcy judge for the archdiocese to submit its reorganization plan, Mertens said.

So far, there have been no offers on the properties, but “we’ve had probably a dozen showings,” Mertens said.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, a move church officials said was the best option to address all claims of sexual abuse at once “fairly and with finality.”

The bankruptcy came on the heels of news of a $9.1 million operating deficit for fiscal year 2014 and amid expectations of more lawsuits over alleged clergy sexual abuse. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, more than two-dozen suits had been filed and the church had received notice of at least 100 more claims.

Bankruptcy protection puts current lawsuits against the archdiocese on hold and allows additional victims to file claims while the bankruptcy case is active. Victims wishing to file claims with the court have until Aug. 3.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

Article source: http://www.grandforksherald.com/news/crime-and-courts/3754182-archdiocese-selling-properties-raise-needed-cash

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