Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Archdiocese Considering Moving Offices from Brighton to Braintree

The Boston Globe ran a front-page, above-the-fold, article in today's paper that the Archdiocese of Boston are in the "final stages of negotiating a deal to move their offices from the campus in Brighton... to a four-story building off route 128 in Braintree..."

Many of us heard unconfirmed reports on Monday that Archdiocese employees at the Chancery are currently packing up their office items, with a move completion targeted before September. The question is: where are they moving the offices?

While the Archdiocese is considering moving their central administration offices to Braintree, they plan to keep the St. John's Seminary itself at the same Brighton location:
"St. John's Seminary will remain at its current location, regardless of the outcome of our assessment of the long-term needs of central administration," said [archdiocesan spokesman Terrence C.] Donilon.
Boston College Vice President for Governmental and Community Affairs Thomas Keady, Jr., has stated publicly several times during the last month that the community can expect certain, additional parts of the Archdiocese property to be sold soon to BC as part of an Archdiocesan sell option within their 2004 purchase and sale contract with BC. Another BC official was heard speculating that the Archdiocese would pack their administrative offices into the St. John's Hall (within the St. John's Seminary buildings)--alongside the St. John's seminarians--but then sell the adjoining Bishop Peterson Hall (and the Chancery) to BC. Here's an old graphic from the St. John's Seminary site:

The Globe story implies that the Archdiocese may no longer be considering moving their administrative offices to St. John's Hall. While the Archdiocese has stated clearly that the seminarians are intended to stay in St. John's Hall, it is unclear whether or not the Archdiocese would sell the building and under what circumstances the seminarians would stay.

The reported sales price for the remaining property is $20 million for the 4.75 acre of the Chancery site, and $40 million for the 13.5 acre of the St. John's Seminary buildings site (and adjoining woods). I am guessing that the library is part of the latter parcel.

Since the Archdiocese and Boston College already have a purchase and sale contract which includes a sell option for these properties and a price, then why would they be in final negotations? My speculation is that they are negotiating sale of part of a parcel specified in the contract, and hence they would have to agree upon the size of the sub-parcel and its price. The likely parcel: selling Bishop Peterson Hall but not St. John's Hall. We'll see.

Note that Boston College's master plans have included buildings sited on the Chancery land not yet sold to them; there is little surprise at this point that it will be sold to BC. The surprise would be if the Archdiocese offices altogether move out of Brighton.

The Boston Herald first broke news of the story last Saturday.

A final note: The Globe's story includes a graphic of the Brighton property already sold, and that which may be sold in the immediate future. The graphic contains two subtle factual errors as to the seller of 196 Foster St (which was actually Virginia Dalton, not the Archdiocese), and the purchase dates of 188 and 196 Foster St (which were both purchased in 2006, not 2004).

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