Is Boston Archdiocese Giving Sweet Deals on Sale of Church Properties?

Given the financial condition of the Boston Archdiocese, one would think that the archdiocese would try to get as much money as possible when selling properties.

Not necessarily.

Here is an example.   St. Catherine of Siena Church in Charleston was recently sold.  The properities sold were assessed at more than $8.7M. The were sold for just $1.4M to Suffolk Company. (Note Suffolk Company appears to be different from Suffolk Construction).

A year ago in 2012, according to this article, the value of the property was follows:

  • The church building is 22,000 square feet on a plot of 17,000 square feet. It was built in 1890 and is presently assessed for $2.5 million.
  • The former parochial school property built in 1900, which is part of the entire package, has a land area of 31,400 square feet and a structure of 29,000 square feet and is currently assessed for $6.2 million.
  • There is a third property – The Annex –  built in 1920 – which has a 2000 square foot school building. This structure rests on the school parcel aforementioned.

This spring, all three of these were sold.  This April 6 report says:

The property included the church, school, annex buildings and parking lot. Separated from the sale are the rectory and the small parking lot behind that building. The property was sold to Suffolk Company, Inc. for $1.4 million. 

To be fair, we do not know the value of the rectory and small parking lot behind it. Still, it is difficult to not look at this sale and question why the Boston Archdiocese has sold a property in a prime location with assessed value of $8.7M at about a $7M loss. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that the redevelopment of the property will include a  Walgreens and Women’s Clinic.
If anyone out there knows why this property was sold at such a substantial discount off the assessed value, do let us know.

18 Responses to Is Boston Archdiocese Giving Sweet Deals on Sale of Church Properties?

  1. pewsitter says:

    If my math is correct, $1.4 million would only cover 4 years of salary for Mary Grassa O’Neill.

  2. Lou says:

    Ms. Grassa O’Neil is gone….yet you people are still obsessed with her.

    • pewsitter says:

      If she is receiving a pension that money is coming out of the Sunday collection plates. So she is not gone.

      • lou says:

        Remind me of the Obama people…any question to Obama gets answered with “Well, Geo Bush….” Talk about real estate, and you can’t help but answer something with O’Neil.

      • pewsitter says:

        Lou, you must have insomnia…

        Did you really write your response defending the $1.4 million to Mary Grasso O’Neill at 1:23 AM in the morning?

  3. Ann in Boston MA says:

    If true, this article tells of sales that were outrageous, and must be investigated immediately. Hope we hava a lawyer and accountant on this site who is courageous and paying attention.

  4. D Paul says:

    Ms. O’Neil was “vested”. She came with a 50K per pension from the Boston Public Schools. What is her pension from the Archdiocese? The pension for the two nuns that she replaced is near zero. The key word in the article is “women’s clinic”. It is not a generic health clinic. It focuses on the issues of health care for child bearing age women. Need I say more. There is no doubt that the Archdiocese of Boston is involved in a “restructuring of Boston”. This would include “deals” for the politically connected. There appears little doubt that elements of the archdiocese are actively in support of abortion as a necessity for poor women and their well meaning multi millionaire doctors. After all, this is in regard to such “small minded rules” as stipulated yesterday by the Pope. One of the biggest sources of income for various dioceses in the U.S. is through “education grants” for the education of non Catholic minorities. That appears to have been the expertise and contact for Ms. O’Neill. She was a fund raiser and had to be paid accordingly. In reality, she was bribed for her contacts with the Democratic Party.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So by my math that comes to $25.27 per square foot. Seem very slightly low for Charlestown. But again; I guess I don’t have the advanced expertise and real estate background of RCABs real estate personnel. Who are they now? Still the same carry overs from Abington Savings Bank?
    God Help Us!

  6. JUSTSAYIN' says:

    Purchaser is registered with Secretary of State’s Office of Corporations. Can find it online. Name means nothing to me but seems to be a very successful RE entity fully able to pay market rate. Why the fire sale here?? Great piece of property. Let me find the link. Perhaps someone here can figure out why such a wealthy entity would rate such a windfall from our Archdiocese.

    Not sure link will work but owner (and I mean sole owner) is one Michael Rauseo:

    If that link does not work then you can go to:

    and just put in the corporate name.

    While we all have witnessed this kind of mysterious sale in the past, it baffles me that this would still go on.

  7. Michael says:

    Anyone know how I could get a job at the Archdiocese? I’m lazy, arrogant, and in denial; not to mention, fearful, spineless, and “pastoral.” Furthermore, it has been my life long dream to have a 9-5 job in a CORRUPT institution. Please let me know what job opportunities await me in Braintree.

  8. John says:

    If I find anything suspicious about this, it’s the assessment of the value of the property. If the property has a church and school, then perhaps the assessment assumed that the property would be used as a church and school. But the property is being SOLD FROM the authority that I would want to see using the property for a church and school, not being BOUGHT BY that authority.

    That being the case, any would-be purchaser or developer must contend with the idea that redevelopment probably will involve demolishing at least one building, namely the church.

    If that’s the case, the value to the purchaser will be MUCH, MUCH lower.
    I think it quite tragic that a women’s clinic–with all that such a place likely implies–might be going into the location. Unfortunately, if the archdiocese is in financial straits the dictate selling properties, I doubt if the archbishop has the get as much for the property–or how it’ll be used in the future–as we might wish.

    I’m not there, I’m in Nebraska, I don’t know what’s going on. I’m not even involved in real estate in any fashion.
    But that’s how I read this.

    • Liam says:

      I tend to agree. The lot is surrounded on three sides by housing projects and on the fourth by a public school. While lots of Charlestown has gentrified, this is not likely for this lot until the projects recede. For commercial development, there will be limits to usability since there’s not a lot of commercial parking unless they build a garage into that lot (or give up developable space for a parking lot, as is much of the current usage). And who knows what will need to be re hazardous materials (like asbestos) from grandfathered/exempt parts of those buildings.

      Anyway, this particular site might not turn out to be a good example. Maybe I am wrong about that, but count me also not surprised given the particulars of this site.

      • JUSTSAYIN' says:

        I have the address as 49 Vine Street and got confused while reading your post. Just Googled it. Seems like a very nice area and good location. It is in the Bunker Hill section of the city. Close by to all the high end developments in Cambridge, right over the bridge. Whole Foods just took over the old Johnnnie’s Foodmaster. Close by to North Point and Archestone in Cambridge. 3-bed/3-bath about 4K per month. Gorgeous rolling park along the waterfront. Once North Point really gets off the ground, the location will be stellar since there is nothing else close by. North Point promises mixed use, with retail and lab space on ground level and residential above. Predicted to have over 4K residential units once completed. Lechmere Station moving across the highway so soon to be widely extended Green Line within walking district to 49 Vine. A bit of a hike but great for any yuppie trying to stay in shape.

        it may be in the future but the future of the region is a sure thing now. .

        Am I confused about the location?? From Google Maps on the street it looks like an historic park across the street and brick lined side walks. I also see a Project but high end close by. Ever been to New Haven?? Projects don’t seem to phase the landed gentry.

  9. Joe College says:

    I think the sale would be scandalous if the buyer’s offer was contingent on zoning approvals for a new project. The Archdiocese has been selling places for cash, no contingencies, sometimes with an upside if the buyer exceeds the development proposal. That means cash in the bank now, not after some lengthy city process with unknowable results. Assessed values of properties that are not taxed are always suspect.

  10. Inquiring Minds Want to Know says:

    The Blessed Sacrament campus in Jamaica Plain was sold eight years ago with a restriction on the deed that the church building be used for housing. This was, as required by canon law, to prevent the church building from being dedicated to a “sordid use.” Recently, due to protests in JP from “activists” (some of whom were on the committee that approved the deal for housing) the use of the building is now to be a “community center.” No housing. Anything goes. The Archdiocese agreed to rescind the restriction on the deed for “due compensation.”

    1. Why abandon the canonically-required assurance that the property will never be given over to “sordid use?” The restriction on the deed was legal, and is standard when church buildings are sold in this archdiocese and others.
    2. How much cash was RCAB paid off the record (not recorded with the transaction) to sell out its restriction requiring housing? Who was paid a “thank you” for getting it done?
    3. Given that the former Blessed Sacrament rectory spot is now a bar with stained glass windows called, The Sanctuary Bar, what can we expect in the church building?
    4. Why are RCAB real estate sales not conforming to church requirements?
    5. Who is benefitting from caving on the canonical requirements?
    6. Who is responsible for Sean O’Malley agreeing to so blatantly disregard church law? Besies, of course, Sean O’Malley himself…
    7. Does Peter Meade’s tenure on the BRA have anything to do with these shady deals in JP and Charlestown?

  11. Alice Slattery says:

    If Cardinal O’Malley is influenced by Peter Meade when negotiating
    sale agreements to restrict deeds to “prevent the Church building from being dedicated to a “sordid use””, he should be aware of the fact that Peter Meade’s wife,Roseanne Bacon, did every thing she could to prevent a resolution to protect the innocent life of the baby in the womb when this resolution was presented, supported , and about to be voted on by the members present at a Mass. Teachers Association(MTA) Convention meeting in the 1990’s when Bacon was president of the MTA. She stopped the vote, then proceeded to spend a lengthy time reminding the MTA members about how much Planned Parenthood had done to help the MTA.
    When she finally allowed a vote to be taken, the resolution was voted down.
    Just previous to this resolution being presented, a resolution to protect animal rights was passed.
    Bacon may have had a change of heart between then and now and I understand she did work to prevent the Death With Dignity bill last year. But I don’t know what her position concerning abortion is now. Hopefully she would not encourage her husband, Peter Meade, to influence Cardinal O’Malley to dismiss the “sordid use” phrase in the bill of sale. I believe this did happen in Wellesley when the St. James Church property was sold to the town of Wellesley. Perhaps someone, who knows what finally happened when this restriction was challenged by the town of Wellesley, can let us know what happened in that case. I don’t know if Peter Meade was advising Cardinal O’Malley at that time.

  12. qclou says:

    let’s all give the people at Braintree RE office a break please ! I’m sure there are a lot of issues concerning this and other sites which constrain the ‘perceived’ value to a buyer.
    I expect [ and sincerely hope !!! ] that the staff are motivated to get the best deal they can for RCAB. the canonical issues raised above are more troubling .

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