University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM, Cap., at the April 20 press conference announcing the agreement by Boston College to acquire property on the Boston Archdiocese's Brighton campus. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)
University to Purchase Archdiocese Property
Agreement includes 43 acres of Brighton land; sale expected by June 30
By Reid Oslin
In the largest campus addition since the acquisition of the former Newton College of the Sacred Heart 30 years ago, Boston College has agreed to purchase 43 acres and several buildings from the Archdiocese of Boston located on the Archdiocese's Brighton campus across Commonwealth Avenue from the University.
Boston College will pay the Archdiocese $99.4 million for the property, which in addition to the land includes the three-story former residence of the Archbishop of Boston; St. William's Hall, an administration building; St. Clement's Hall, which is currently leased by the University as office space; and several smaller structures.
The sale is expected to be completed by June 30.
BC and the Archdiocese also agreed on an additional proposal for the University to buy the Archdiocesan Tribunal property on Lake Street in two years. The price of that property will be $8 million.
Speaking at an April 20 press conference announcing the agreement, University President William P. Leahy, SJ said, "Acquiring additional space for playing fields and other campus facilities has long been a goal for Boston College and this transaction with the Archdiocese helps meet those needs."
Fr. Leahy said it will likely take several years for the University to fully explore potential uses of the buildings and land. "Boston College, I am convinced, will benefit greatly from this agreement in principle," he told the large gathering of media at the event. "I also believe that will be the case for the Archdiocese and the wider community.
"The cost of this property will be significant for us," Fr. Leahy noted, "but we could not pass up the opportunity for more land, especially a parcel so close to our campus."
Fr. Leahy said a special fund-raising appeal to the University's alumni and friends will be launched in the near future to help defray the cost of the real estate.
In addition to the proposed sales of property, Boston College and the Archdiocese of Boston reached an agreement in principle on two additional proposals involving the Chancery and St. John's Seminary, both of which are also located on the Brighton campus. Under the contemplated agreement, if the Archdiocese decides to sell the remaining Chancery property within the next 10 years, Boston College will purchase the property for $20 million.
This map shows the Brighton property Boston College has agreed to purchase from the Boston Archdiocese.
In the case of the remaining St. John's Seminary property, if the seminary were to be sold in the next 10 years, Boston College would be required to purchase that property for $40 million plus adjustments. At the end of the respective option periods, Boston College would no longer be required to purchase the properties at the set price but would still retain the right of first refusal regarding any future sale of the properties.
"This agreement in principle is historic for Boston College," Fr. Leahy said, "comparable to our move to Chestnut Hill in 1907, or the acquisition of what is now our lower campus in the 1950s." [See related item and sidebar.]
Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM, Cap., said the proceeds from the sale of the land and buildings will be used to pay off the approximately $90 million in loans taken out by the Boston Archdiocese for the legal settlement of cases involving the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
"I am pleased that we were able to come to an agreement in principle so quickly," Archbishop O'Malley said. "It is very important to us as an Archdiocese to clearly show how the funds for the legal settlement were raised. No monies from any future sales of former parish property or assets will be used to this end.
"While I am saddened that a large piece of our Brighton campus will be sold," Archbishop O'Malley said, "it is good that the offer by Boston College is the one accepted at the end of the sale process, especially since we have been able to keep the property within the Catholic family."
The Archbishop thanked William McCall and Joseph Corcoran, two of Boston's leading real estate developers, Boston College Financial Vice President Peter McKenzie and Archdiocesan Chancellor David Smith for their collective efforts in putting the agreement together.
Archbishop O'Malley also noted the long-standing close relationship between Boston College and the archdiocese.
"I guess we'll be talking over the back fence now instead of across Commonwealth Avenue," the prelate said to Fr. Leahy. "It is my hope that as the Archdiocese of Boston and Boston College will now become even closer neighbors - geographically - than we have been in the past, we may continue to work closely together in fostering the mission of the Church of Boston and beyond, all for the greater glory of God."
Boston College Trustee Thomas P. O'Neill III said, "This acquisition is an important signal for the growth of Boston College and its future. While there may be some immediate plans for use of the playing fields and administrative offices, it is the long-term plans for the property that will ultimately reflect Fr. Leahy's vision and leadership qualities as the University prepares to embark on the next phase of its development."-Office of Public Affairs •