BOSTON-The announcement by the Archdiocese that 16 churches are for sale presented local brokers with the challenge of how best to market the properties, while still serving the needs of the Archdiocese and their surrounding communities. Five Greater Boston brokers are listing the properties.

“These deals are going to take some work,” Mike Harkins, president of Harkins Real Estate, who is representing two Lowell churches, tells “You’re going to have to approach the city and see what you can do. There’s a lot of homework to be done to figure out what’s the best use for these sites.”

Because the church properties are located in so many communities, and more importantly in so many zoning districts, it is difficult to draw a definitive developer profile, but there has been strong interest. “A lot of people have said ‘I can’t wait to see [those properties] hit the market,’” says Harkins, “Developers are looking forward to the challenge of what to do with them.”

“We’ve had previous interest in a general way,” notes Jim Belli, principal at the Codman Co., which is listing properties in East Boston, Salem, Malden and Hyde Park, “but like any sale, you’re going to be constricted by the zoning.”

The potential developers would seem to fall into a few categories, according to James L. Elcock, executive vice president at Meredith & Grew. “These properties typically get interest from three types of parties, other churches, institutions and residential. Developers are not going to be looking for class A office or industrial conversions.”Institutions such as charter schools, arts groups and museums may find the properties particularly appealing, Elcock says. “Institutional users like the properties for their bone structure, parking, architectural layouts and location. It would cost a lot to build projects like these from scratch, and a lot of these institutional groups don’t have large budgets. It could be a win/win situation.”Proposals, which will be solicited over the next 90 days, will be reviewed by the Archdiocesan Real Estate Office and the Real Estate Advisory committee, which will make their recommendations to chancellor David W. Smith. He will review the financial terms and the social considerations connected with the offers and forward his recommendations to Archbishop Sean O’Malley. If the Archbishop is inclined to accept the offers, permissions will be sought from the College of Consultors, the Finance Council, and where needed, from the Holy See before proceeding with the actual sales.

“The next three months are going to be very interesting,” M&G’s Elcock concludes.

The Codman Co., led by Belli, principal, is the listing broker for St. Joseph’s, Hyde Park; St. Peter, Malden; St. Joseph, Salem; and St. Mary, Star of the Sea, East Boston. Meredith & Grew’s Elcock and EVP Lisa Campoli are representing St. Jerome and St. James, Arlington; Assumption, Bellingham; and Blessed Sacrament in Bellingham.

Richards, Barry & Joyce is marketing St. Joseph’s, Waltham; St. Margaret, Brockton; St. Mary, Marlboro; and St. James and Sacred Heart in Medford. Brian McKenzie is a partner working on the effort. Cushman & Wakefield’s senior director Chris Griffin is the listing broker for Star of the Sea, Quincy. Harkins Real Estate with president Mike Harkins, is working on Nuestra Senora del Carmen and Notre Dame in Lowell.

The reconfiguration of parishes in the Archdiocese started early this year when 357 parishes were divided into five regions. Since that time, 47 parishes have closed. When the process is completed, it is estimated that 83 parishes and 67 churches will close, eight new parishes will be created and eight churches will remain open. In total, there will be 282 parishes and 290 churches serving the Archdiocese.

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