Catholic Center at Tufts Sold to University
Terms of Sale Undisclosed to Public

By Keith Barry
Tufts Daily [Medford MA]
Seprtember 23, 2004

The building housing the Catholic Center at Tufts, located at 58 Winthrop Street in Medford, was sold to the University over the summer for an undisclosed amount.

The terms of the sale are not known, but in June the building was valued by the Medford Assessor's Office at $386,400. The building was sold two weeks before the start of classes, according to Catholic Chaplain Ann Penick.

"It's still the Catholic Center at Tufts, it's just a University-owned building," University Chaplain David O'Leary said. "Before, it was the Catholic Center at Tufts in a building owned by the Archdiocese of Boston."

Under the new agreement, the Archdiocese will lease the building from the University until 2009, at which time the Catholic Center will need to find a new space. The Center is under the direction of the Archdiocese.

Last spring, O'Leary told the Daily that Tufts had expressed interested in purchasing the property from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, but that the sale agreement was on hold because of the Archdiocese. "Is [the sale] on hold or is it just posturing?" he asked in April. "You wait to see who blinks; that's how real estate is done," O'Leary said.

Rumors that the building was for sale first surfaced last spring when the Archdiocese started divesting itself of property because of financial woes.

The Archdiocese had to pay $135 million in debt, including $90 million in a settlement with 550 sexual abuse victims of the clergy. The $99 million sale of 43 acres of church land to Boston College and the reorganization and closing of parishes helped to pay that debt. Sacred Heart Church in Medford, across Winthrop Street from the Catholic Center, was closed July 25.

At press time, the Archdiocese was unable to comment on the sale of the building at 58 Winthrop.

One consequence of the sale of the Catholic Center building is that the University will now be responsible for some necessary structural repairs, according to Penick. "Tufts has put together a list of things they have to do to improve the building," Penick said. She has been "impressed" by the University's interest in repairing the building.

Penick said she did not know where the Catholic Center would relocate after the lease expired, and she also did not know what would become of the building.

The change in ownership from the Archdiocese to the University has caused some minor changes in using the space, according to Penick.

"Now we have to have a monitor for every event," Penick said. Both Catholic Center events and non-Center practice sessions -- such as ballroom dancing lessons -- must now have a Catholic Center representative present.

Penick herself volunteered to supervise events held by the Eliot-Pearson School of Child Development, and Catholic Center student members have volunteered to monitor other events.


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