The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Thursday announced the sale of three suburban properties for $56.2 million and said it will use the proceeds to help plug gaps in its balance sheet.
In addition to the previously reported sale of a 200-plus-acre property in Delaware County to Jenkintown-based Goodman Properties for $47 million, the archdiocese said that it had an agreement to sell a 454-acre property in Northampton County for $5.5 million, and that it had sold 55 acres in Chester County for $3.7 million.
The $3.7 million from the sale of excess land at the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, a behavioral-health center for clergy and women religious, was deposited into the archdiocesan priests' pension fund. That fund previously had a $76.3 million deficit.
The buyer was Woodbine Partners L.P., a partnership of Chester County developers E. Kahn Development and J. Lowe & Associates.
Stephen Sullins, Downingtown's borough manager, said the expected mixed-use development was significant for the town, which covers just two square miles.
"It looks like it is going to expand our tax base somewhat. We're looking forward to some new jobs," Sullins said.
Net proceeds from the two other sales will go into the Archdiocesan Trust and Loan Fund, which is essentially a private bank for parishes, taking deposits from parishes with extra cash and making loans for building projects, the archdiocese said.
The fund had an $80 million deficit on June 30, 2013, because under Cardinal Justin Rigali the archdiocese used money from the fund to make up for cash shortages at the headquarters and to pay bills for parishes and schools that were falling behind.
Combined with $30 million in proceeds from leasing archdiocesan cemeteries this year, net proceeds from the two land sales are expected to eliminate the deficit in the Trust and Loan Fund, the archdiocese said.
The Northampton County property is Mary Immaculate Center, formerly a seminary opened by the Vincentian Fathers in 1939. The archdiocese bought it in 1996 for $4 million, according to public records, and used it as a retreat for training priests. It closed in 2009.
The agreement of sale is with David T. Davis.
The Delaware County property, in Marple Township along Sproul Road, lies behind Cardinal O'Hara High School. Part of it was occupied by Don Guanella Village, a residential facility founded in 1960 for men over age 21 with developmental disabilities.
In recent years, state officials and health-care experts have favored small, community-based care for such individuals. Plans are for many of the 130 men who live at Don Guanella to move to group homes, but about 30 of the residents are mentally fragile and would not survive in a group home. To accommodate those men, several acres were carved from the sale and will be retained by the archdiocese.
The state agency that oversees services for the developmentally disabled will provide money to build a campus specifically for them, the archdiocese said. But in conjunction with state agencies, the archdiocese also is considering other locations for the campus.
The legal entity buying the entire Sproul Road property is called Cardinal Crossing Realty Associates L.P. The development could consist of as many as 300 houses and 800,000 to one million square feet of commercial space, including a Wegmans supermarket, according to a previous report on the deal.
Marple Township officials could not be reached for comment.
At the parish level, the former St. Bridget School in the East Falls section of Philadelphia was sold in August for $1.1 million.