PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Diocese of Springfield is looking to sell the former St. Mary the Morningstar Church in a "reasonable time" and its broker is speaking with multiple parties.
The former church on Tyler Street has been closed and on the market since 2010; the church was closed in 2008.
In 2014, Cafua Management planned to raze the church and build a Dunkin' Donuts. That proposal faced tremendous opposition and eventually the company withdrew its offer.
Earlier this year, developer David Carver put in an offer and a plan to turn many of the existing buildings into market-rate housing, as he has done with numerous other churches in the area. Most recently, he has just begun work on the former Holy Family Church on Seymour Street.The plan for St. Mary's included transforming the former rectory and school buildings into market-rate housing, and a plan for the church itself would later be determined.
"The church was off the side a little bit, we are going to let that percolate a little bit and see if something will come up. So instead of cutting that into housing, our plan was to let it percolate to see if something came forward that makes sense," Carver said earlier this week, adding that he does have 10 additional housing units sketched out for the church if something "creative" doesn't come to fruition.
At this point, Carver is just waiting to hear from the broker on whether or not the offer his offer will be accepted. Carver said he knows there is at least one other bidder for the property.
"Our offer is on the table. Working with the diocese, it is my understanding they have others they are trying to work with and haven't made a final decision yet," he said.
Right now there is no indication of who else is interested in the property. Diocese of Springfield spokesman Mark DuPont said earlier this week that the property remains on the market.
"Yes, this property remains on the market. While it is the policy of the diocese to limit comments on potential real estate transactions, I can say there are interested parties speaking with our real estate brokers," DuPont wrote in an email last week.
"The diocese is always mindful of finding a re-use that brings value to the community as a whole. We also consider the ability of any potential buyer to execute the sale in a reasonable time. This is especially important in light of the fact that with St. Mary's the Pittsfield, there are ongoing expenses for general upkeep and real estate taxes which are being shouldered by the Pittsfield Catholic community."
The idea of multiple bidders concerns some who fear who the other developers might be — such as another Dunkin Donut's-like restaurant or store. The rumors have been that the new buyer is being aggressive toward closing on the property.
Officials in the Department of Community Development Office said they have not been approached by potential developers for the site regarding permitting or any other application. Others in city government have also said they had not heard anything from a potential buyer.
The site is 2.6 acres and features a rectory, convent, a small garage, and former school building. It is listed through Colebrook Realty Services for $850,000. The structures consist of more than 41,524 square feet.
The property is also one of several eyed by MassDevelopment as key properties for redevelopment through the Transformative Development Initiative. That state-funded program is eyed to revitalize the Morningside neighborhood.
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