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BOSTON-The Salvation Army is seeking proposals to redevelop its state headquarters here in the Back Bay area. In doing so, the evangelical Protestant denomination joins other religious institutions looking to take advantage of the real estate market here.

In addition to its five-story building, the Salvation Army also owns an adjacent parking lot. Lieutenant Colonel Fred Van Brunt, the Salvation Army’s top official in this state, tells GlobeSt.com that the properties were assessed by the city at $10 million, but are probably worth much more on the open market.

“About 50 people took our request for proposals,” says Van Brunt, who adds that the idea to redevelop the property came after he was approached by a developer interested in putting up a building on the parking lot site. “It got the ideas flowing,” he says. “We felt maybe there was something meaningful we can do with this parcel that won’t hurt us, and will give us cash flow.”

Other Boston churches are also trying to take advantage of this hot real estate market – at least while it lasts. As was reported by GlobeSt.com, Franciscan friars are looking at the possibility of redeveloping St. Anthony’s Shrine here on Arch Street. In addition, an Episcopal church is reportedly trying to develop a small park it owns on Beacon Hill, while Redemptorist priests want to develop several properties behind their basilica on Mission Hill.

Van Brunt notes that the Salvation Army would like to retain ownership of the land, but to allow development of a residential, commercial or hotel project that would generate enough money to possibly relocate their offices and worship space, and finance social-service programs as well. “We’re waiting to see the ideas people come up with and how they fit in with our scheme of things,” he says. The property is located directly across from the old Boston police headquarters, which is being redeveloped as a hotel, and a block away from the new development being put up over the Massachusetts Turnpike. It is also near the centers of the Back Bay, Bay Village, Park Square and the South End neighborhoods. “This location is getting better all the time,” Van Brunt points out.

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