Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Archdiocese Gets Chancery for $100

Wow, this blew me away. It's great news for the Archdiocese of Boston.

From the Boston Globe:

Thomas J. Flatley, the self-made billionaire who has been unloading a portion of his real estate empire, has sold to the Archdiocese of Boston for less than $100 a property with an assessed value of $14 million that will become the church's new administrative headquarters.

The archdiocese is now renovating the 140,000-square-foot office building, which sits alongside Interstate 93, and is planning to move 250 to 300 employees from Brighton and several other sites into the Braintree office park sometime this summer.

The archdiocese announced last May that it was planning to move into the Braintree building, at 66 Brooks Drive, but declined to reveal the details. The Globe pieced together a picture of the transaction from filings with the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, the secretary of state's office, and the Braintree assessor's office.

According to the documents, a company controlled by Flatley sold the property in November for less than $100 to a company established that same day by the archdiocesan chancellor, James P. McDonough. Two days later, the McDonough-controlled company sold the property, again for less than $100, to the archdiocese.

Neither the archdiocese nor Flatley would respond to questions about the transaction, nor would they say whether there were any other elements to the deal. But, in response to an inquiry by the Globe, the archdiocese issued a statement from Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley saying that Flatley "has long exemplified a strong commitment to supporting the good works of the archdiocese."

"We are blessed for all he has done to help build up our local church," O'Malley said. "He made it possible for us to select the new location for our pastoral center and we are grateful to him as we make plans to move in the months ahead."

Flatley, whose net worth is estimated at $1.3 billion by Forbes magazine, has been a significant donor to the archdiocese for years. His foundation, which has reported more than $200 million in assets, gave $913,000 to the archdiocese in 2006, and has given millions to Catholic organizations over the years.

The archdiocese declined to say how much it will spend renovating the Braintree building, but said "the cost to complete the renovations and upgrades are reasonable, given the size of the building."

The archdiocese said it will disclose the costs in its annual financial report in 2009, and that the money will come from the proceeds of the sale of the archdiocese's Brighton property to Boston College.


O'Malley will have a suite of offices on the top floor of the new building, with a sweeping view of the Blue Hill Cemetery, but will also maintain an office at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End. The Cathedral is considered the spiritual seat of the archdiocese, and O'Malley lives and sometimes works at its rectory.

The archdiocese is hoping to retire the word "chancery," often used to describe the church headquarters, and begin calling it the "pastoral center."

"In calling the new location the pastoral center, we are demonstrating in a real and tangible manner our commitment to the people of God, here in the archdiocese, as we continue in our work to heal and rebuild our local church," the archdiocese's vicar general, the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, said in a statement. (...)

Read the complete article here.

It didn't make sense to me to sell the chancery building and pay rent for a building, but this changes everything. I don't know Mr. Flatley's intentions in doing this, but I am grateful for his generosity.

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