Jesuit university to buy Philadelphia archbishop's residence

The Cardinals Residence is on an 89 acre property contiguous to SJUs Philadelphia Campus Courtesy SJU CNA US Catholic News 9 7 12 The cardinal's residence is on an 8.9-acre property contiguous to SJU's Philadelphia Campus. Photo courtesy of SJU.

St. Joseph's University has signed a letter of intent to buy the Archbishop of Philadelphia's residence from the financially troubled archdiocese at an expected cost of $10 million.

"As we look to the future, this opens exciting possibilities for the University community, and it will further enhance our students' experience for decades to come," university president C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J. said Sept. 7.

He said the property acquisition is "an opportunity that will be integral to the university's long-term strategic planning."

The residence and its 8.9-acre property are adjacent to the Jesuit university's 48-acre Philadelphia campus. The property's main building is three stories tall and hosts 23,250 square feet of space. It includes a gardener's cottage and a six-car garage.

The university said the letter of intent is the first step in the acquisition. Both the university and the archdiocese are expected to sign a purchase agreement in the next several weeks.

Fr. Gillespie said the university has no immediate plans to develop the property. Funding for the purchase is coming from both the university's internal resources and from donors.

Cardinal Dennis Dougherty bought the residence in the 1930s for $115,000, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia's archbishops have lived at the residence since 1935.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia will live in an apartment at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. The late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua lived there after his retirement in 2003.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia faces an operating debt of $6 million for the 2012 fiscal year and over $11 million in estimated legal costs for sex abuse cases. It is seeking to sell other properties such as a summer vacation home for retired priests, the Holy Family Center in Philadelphia, and the Mary Immaculate Center in Northampton, Pa.

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