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OAKLAND, CA-A local pastor is negotiating with the U.S. Department of the Navy to purchase the former Oak Knoll Naval Hospital site, a 174-acre property in one of Oakland’s most exclusive areas.

Rev. Joseph Simmons, pastor of the 4000-member Greater St. Paul Baptist Church, bid $22.5 million last month for the property, which was a Navy site until it closed in 1996. However, due to lack of immediate funding, the church has requested an extension to raise the remaining $20 million it still owes.

The church’s exact source of funding is not clear and the reverend has avoided revealing any financial details, so the question remains: where will the money come from? According to representatives of the church, a mystery donor supplied most of the money for the down payment. The church’s development company, the St. Paul Economic Empowerment Development Corp., plans to about 500 housing units on the property, as well as a school and social services center.

If the church is unable to produce the funds, the city of Oakland plans to bid again on the property. The city initially bid $11 million, which the Navy rejected as too low.

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