Unused church properties to be auctioned for quick sale
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia will auction off several properties in Philadelphia and the suburbs later this month in hopes of raising much-needed cash, it announced June 28. Max Spann Real Estate and Auction is leading the process for the Archdiocese.
The two largest properties, a 48-acre tract in Plumstead, Bucks County and a 29.5-acre tract in Harleysville, Montgomery County had been purchased years ago in hopes they might be needed to accommodate an expansion of the Catholic population in those areas.
That never happened, at least to the degree that the properties were needed, and they have remained undeveloped for decades. Attempts to sell them were unsuccessful, according to archdiocesan officials, so they are being auctioned at this time.
Auctioning them rather than using a traditional sales-listing approach is favored as a way to expedite the transactions quickly.
“We recognized some time ago that with parish and school closures, owning this excess inventory was not sustainable. Rather than selling the buildings the old-fashioned way — one at a time — we want to get these properties sold,” said Thomas Croke, the Archdiocese’s director of real estate services. “The land we are selling is prime real estate and we anticipate great interest.”
Proceeds from the auction, to be held July 24 at 1 p.m. at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown hotel in Philadelphia (17th Street between Race and Vine streets), will help the precarious financial condition of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. It is documented in a new report of its finances released July 3.
The Archdiocese is helping some parishes market their properties by including them in the auction. Proceeds from those sales will remain with the parishes, which are separate legally and financially from the Archdiocese. The properties include:
- Former All Saints School and All Saints Convent – 4600 block of E. Thompson St., Philadelphia;
- Former St. Bartholomew Convent – 5500 Harbison Ave., Philadelphia;
- Former St. Michael Business School – 1500 block of North 2nd Street, Philadelphia;
- Former Our Lady of Hope Convent – 3500 block of North 19th St., Philadelphia;
- One-acre residential lot of St. Hilary Parish – Mill Road Circle, Rydal, Montgomery County.
“This is a tremendous redevelopment opportunity,” said Max Spann Real Estate Chief Operations Officer Bob Dann. “The school buildings and convents lend themselves to being converted to homes and apartments, while the land in Bucks and Montgomery counties can easily be sub-divided to build homes. Someone may even be interested in buying and preserving the land.”