Archdiocese to sell final Cathedral Hill property to Cathedral Heritage Foundation

| June 20, 2016 | 0 Comments
Located at 244 Dayton Ave. in St. Paul, the Dayton Building is the third and final building the archdiocese has sold of its Cathedral Hill properties. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Located at 244 Dayton Ave. in St. Paul, the Dayton Building is the third and final building the archdiocese has sold of its Cathedral Hill properties. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is planning to sell a 94-year-old office building to the Cathedral Heritage Foundation and a separate limited liability company for $900,000 pending U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval. The archdiocese filed a motion for the sale and purchase agreement with the court June 20.

Located at 244 Dayton Ave. in St. Paul, the Dayton Building is the third and final building the archdiocese has sold of its Cathedral Hill properties. The sale includes a vacant lot at 250 Dayton Ave.

Joseph Kueppers, the archdiocese’s chancellor for civil affairs, said that the sale means the archdiocese “has sold all of our available real estate to marshal as many assets as we can for the victims [of clergy sex abuse], which has been our goal.”

In May 2015, the archdiocese listed for sale three buildings adjacent to the Cathedral of St. Paul that house its central corporation offices and the archbishop’s residence. The archdiocese sold the Msgr. Ambrose Hayden Center to the Minnesota Historical Society for $4.5 million in November. In April, it sold the chancery building and attached archbishop’s residence to a limited liability company owned by Premier Bank Chairman Donald Regan for $3,275,000. It also sold a residence near Northfield for $365,000 in February.

While the court mandated a bidding process for the sale of the Hayden and chancery buildings, the process for the Dayton Building is different, Kueppers said, because of potential encroachment issues and shared services between the Dayton Building and the Cathedral. According to the motion filed, the archdiocese will consider higher offers on the property through July 8. The sale is expected to be finalized at a July 14 court hearing.

In February, the archdiocese announced plans to move its central corporation offices to the former 3M headquarters at 777 Forest St. in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood. The move is expected to take place in early December. Until the move, the archdiocese plans to lease office space from the new owners of the Hayden, chancery and Dayton buildings. Under the purchase agreement, archdiocesan offices would be able to occupy the Dayton Building rent-free until they relocate.

Historic building

Built by Boston-based architects Maginnis & Walsh in a Renaissance revival style, the 18,000-square-foot Dayton Building served as the archdiocese’s chancery office from its construction in 1922 to the early 1960s, when a new chancery building was constructed across from the Cathedral on Summit Avenue. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Historic Hill District. It sits directly behind the Cathedral and next to the Cathedral’s rectory.

The building is home to the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, and the Office of Communication, which includes The Catholic Spirit newspaper. It has long been the offices of The Catholic Spirit and its predecessor, The Catholic Bulletin, and once housed Catholic Cemeteries offices. It has also held several archdiocesan offices, including the Worship Center, the Center for Ministry, the Vicar for Religious, and Religious Retirement Office, and the Protection of Children and Youth Initiative.

According to documents the archdiocese filed with the court, Ramsey County records indicated the Dayton Building’s value is $1,395,500, but the archdiocese’s realtor, NorthMarq, estimated its value between $550,000 and $950,000 in a June 2013 analysis. The county valued the vacant lot at 250 Dayton Ave. at $112,900.

As church properties, the Dayton Building and vacant lot were not taxable, and the value discrepancy is not unusual for untaxed property, Kueppers said.

Cathedral to benefit

Selling the Dayton Building and vacant lot together was the best way to get the highest price for the two properties, Kueppers said.

The St. Paul-based Cathedral Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit separate from the Cathedral of St. Paul and dedicated to the building’s preservation. With the help of 244 Dayton LLC, of which the Cathedral Heritage Foundation is the sole member, it plans to purchase the Dayton Building and vacant lot with the intention of leasing the Dayton Building to the Cathedral.

“This purchase offer fits directly into our mission—the properties share infrastructure with the Cathedral, and have an historic connection to the campus. This is a unique opportunity to maintain the entire campus as a unified whole,” the Cathedral Heritage Foundation Board of Curators said in a June 20 statement. They added that the amount for the purchase was earmarked for the purpose by a group of donors, and that the transaction is not expected to affect the foundation’s other activities.

“We want the Dayton Avenue property, along with the Cathedral and other historic buildings that are part of the Cathedral campus, to remain a source of pride and inspiration for generations to come,” said Mary Schaffner, the foundation’s board chairwoman, in the June 20 statement.

Court documents indicated that the archdiocese received six offers for both properties, one offer for only the vacant lot, and one offer for all the property the archdiocese had been selling. The highest initial offer made on the Dayton Building was $1.1 million, but it was reduced to $800,000 because of the property’s physical condition and parking issues related to City of St. Paul zoning regulations for office space.

Because the archdiocese could not resolve the parking issues, it did not believe that it was in a position to move forward with that offer, documents stated.

The archdiocese filed for Reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in January 2015 due to mounting claims of child sex abuse by clergy. On May 26, it filed a plan for Reorganization, which is under court review.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Local News