BC SealBoston College Magazine Spring 2004
In This Issue
Features
Prologue
Linden Lane
Works and Days
Postscript
Letters to the Editor
BCM Home
Archives
Contact BCM
Coming Events
. Linden Lane
.

This land

.

Agreement is reached

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, with Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM, at the April 20, 2004, press conference. By Lee Pellegrini

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, with Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM, at the April 20, 2004, press conference. By Lee Pellegrini

Before a bank of television cameras in a room full of reporters, University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, OFM, delivered the news on April 20 that many local observers had been anticipating since December. Agreement had been reached, sealed with a handshake, for Boston College to purchase 43 acres of the 64.5-acre expanse owned by the archdiocese diagonally across Commonwealth Avenue from BC's lower campus. The executive committee of the University's Board of Trustees had conferred by telephone the night before, sometime after the last Patriot's Day marathoners had shuffled past the two campuses, and approved a purchase price of $99.4 million.

While the archdiocese's intention to sell and the University's interest in buying were well known, the magnitude of the sale exceeded previous announcements of the property to be put on the market (originally, 27.6 acres) by more than half. Included in the purchase, in addition to the parcel's broad rolling lawns, are St. William's Hall, a partially occupied administrative building; St. Clement's Hall, which the University now leases for offices; and the imposing Renaissance Revival mansion that was home to Boston archbishops for 76 years.

Moreover, the agreement sets out opportunities for Boston College to expand its holdings over the next decade. In 2006, the University is committed in principle to purchase an additional 3.25 acres of the same expanse of Church property, a parcel containing the archdiocesan tribunal building, for $8 million. And, if by 2014 either or both of the two remaining sections of land—4.75 acres containing the Chancery, and 13.5 acres containing St. John's Seminary—are offered for sale, Boston College is obligated to purchase them, for $20 million and approximately $40 million, respectively.

According to Leahy, the University has some money set aside for the initial purchase, but assembling the full amount will involve a "special fundraising appeal to our alumni and friends." He told reporters, "The cost of this property will be significant for us, but we could not pass up the opportunity for more land, especially a parcel so close to our campus."

Did you get a good deal? asked a reporter. Is this a bailout of the financially troubled archdiocese? Leahy allowed a slight smile and said, "There was no clergy discount today." The University was paying a fair price. Later William McCall, a Boston commercial real estate broker who represented the archdiocese, concurred, calling the purchase and sale a "win/win opportunity." McCall said there had been at least one other bidder, but only Boston College "had the ability to close soon—and the archdiocese wanted this."

(continued below)

An expanded future

University President William P. Leahy, SJ, e-mailed the following message to the 14,000 students, faculty, and staff of Boston College on April 20, 2004.

Dear Member of the Boston College Community:

As you will have heard, Boston College has entered into an agreement in principle to purchase 43 acres of the Archdiocese of Boston campus just across Commonwealth Avenue from our own campus, an acquisition that will increase our land holdings by nearly 30 percent. The details of the agreement, which include options for the purchase of additional archdiocesan property over the next years, can be found at www.bc.edu/bcinfo.

Boston College has become one of the premier universities, but it yearns to be a greater university still. We enroll extraordinarily gifted students, and our faculty and staff are accomplished and ambitious. We do not lack for inspiration or for new ideas. But to have an expanded future, you need a place on which to build it.

The University has planned well over the years, its leaders taking advantage of opportunities to acquire the Chestnut Hill Campus (1907), the Upper Reservoir (1949), and the Newton College Campus (1974). These were turning points in Boston College's history, literally making the present breadth and eminence of the University attainable.

And so in a profound sense, the agreement we've entered into is not about property. It is about possibility. It is about dreams and imagination and contributions to society, the Church, and the world. We are buying today on faith, faith in our present abilities, certainly, but more particularly faith in all those men and women of talent, ambition, and commitment who will come after us to build in Boston College's name.

Today, then, is a day to be thankful for the work and blessing of those who, over the course of 141 years, brought us to this moment. And it is also a day to be prayerful for ourselves and for those whose names we do not yet know but whom we now charge with carrying the University mission and vision forward to greater excellence.

Sincerely,
William P. Leahy, SJ
President


(continued from above)

Archbishop O'Malley announced that proceeds from the sale would go to pay off $90 million in loans taken out by the archdiocese to finance its settlement, reached last December, with clergy sexual abuse victims. "It was very important for us as an archdiocese to clearly show how the funds for the settlement were raised," he said. O'Malley had pledged that no parish income, no money raised in the Annual Catholic Appeal to fund the archdiocese, and no dollars destined for Catholic schools would go toward the settlement. The quick sale to Boston College, he noted, will save interest payments on the archdiocese's loans. It will also deflate assertions that the expense of the abuse scandal is in some way responsible for a round of parish and school closings to be scheduled this year. "While I am saddened that a large piece of our Brighton campus had to be sold to this end, I am pleased that the offer by Boston College was the one that we accepted at the end of the sale process," O'Malley said. "It is good that we have been able to keep the property within the Catholic community."

Asked about plans for using the new property, Leahy said it may be several years before the University has an answer. In the short term, he said, the land will provide much needed space for playing fields and surface parking. Beyond that, the University will begin amending its master plan in consultation with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, as city law requires.

The formal purchase is due to take place on June 30, 2004. Meanwhile, the archdiocese must secure approval from its finance council, its college of consultors, the board of St. John's Seminary, and the Holy See, all of which Church officials expect to be forthcoming.

Anna Marie Murphy

 

. . .
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
  » 
     
Alumni Home
BC Home