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Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish to sell Mulberry Street property

Posted By June 15, 2017 | 12:48 pm | Local
Long-distance photo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church with top of facade removed.
Photo by Tanya Connor
Long-distance photo of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church with top of facade removed. Photo by Tanya Connor

William T. Clew  | The Catholic Free Press

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish is in the process of picking a real estate agent to arrange the sale of its property on Mulberry Street, according to Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone, pastor.
The property includes the church building, rectory, the Gene J. Defeudis Italian-American Cultural Center, parking areas and the Little League baseball field.
Msgr. Pedone said the parish has been talking this week with the Kelleher & Sadowski Associates and NAI Glickman Kovago & Jacobs real estate organizations about handling the marketing and sale of the property.
He said he is working with a committee which includes two members of the parish finance council, lawyers, construction people, architects and real estate people.
The parish has spent about $200,000 to stabilize the facade and front wall of the church building. The bell tower has been stabilized earlier and capstones were removed from the front of the building. Architects hired by the parish have said that the building is unsafe and anyone entering should wear a hard hat.
The church was closed in May 2016 after architects said they could not certify the structural integrity of the building because of serious problems with the front wall, which was pulling away from the rest of the building. They recommended that it be razed.
On Feb. 1 Bishop McManus merged Our Lady of Mount Carmel–St. Ann Parish with Our Lady of Loreto Parish. The new parish was named Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.
Msgr. Pedone said that Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church was beginning to show signs of significant damage as early as 1967, according to parish records. The church was built in 1928 to serve the Italian-American community nearby. Construction of Interstate 290 began in the 1950s. The highway runs just across Mulberry Street from the front of the church.
Father Erminio Mastroianni, pastor, wrote to Bishop Flanagan in 1967 about the damage to the church which many claim is related to heavy traffic on the highway.
Father Mastroianni recommended then that the church be taken down and replaced with a smaller church built farther away from the highway, Msgr. Pedone said. He said that in 1967 the highway was carrying an estimated 70,000 cars and trucks a day. He estimated that it probably is used by more than 125,000 vehicles now.
He said it probably would cost more than $1.3 million for a permanent fix to the front of the church, not including the bell tower. He said the cultural center would require more than a $1 million to repair.
“It’s money we don’t have,” he said
In 2007 the parish launched a find-raising campaign with a $3 million goal. It raised about $700,000. Msgr. Pedone said he tried to get increased offertory giving, but that didn’t work. He said that, over the years, the Italian-American population has been moving away and church revenue has fallen.
“We are not replenishing ourselves,” he said.
He said he believes the location of the property will make it attractive to potential buyers. It will be sold “as is,” he said. Before it is sold, the bishop will proclaim that it is available for “profane but not sordid use,” and the new owner must agree to appropriate use of the property.
It is sacred ground,” Msgr. Pedone said.