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BOSTON-Just one year after saying it would lease its underutilized Boston buildings, the First Church of Christ, Scientist plans to redevelop its Back Bay property and should have a design team in place by the end of the year.

Philip G. Davis, manager of the Committees on Publication, tells GlobeSt.com that plans call for the creation of residential, office or retail space on the church’s 14-acre, nine-building campus on Massachusetts and Huntington avenues. Construction, however, will not actually begin for years as the church works with its design team and the city to ensure that any changes are an enhancement to the existing campus. The church’s well-known plaza with its reflective pool and fountain, designed in the 1960s by a firm owned by well-known architect I.M. Pei, will continue as open public space, Davis says.

“This is very much the beginning steps,” says Davis, noting that as part of that effort, 500 church employees will be consolidated from two campus buildings and relocated to the nine-story Publishing House on Massachusetts Avenue by the end of 2007. Davis says all of the properties will remain under the control of church officials and will not be sold to investors.

Last October, the church announced that it would lease the underutilized space on its nine-building campus, several of which have historical significance, in order to streamline financial operations. Two historic homes in Newton and Lynn, both once owned by Church founder, Mary Baker Eddy, and a Washington, DC office building that houses an office for the Christian Science Monitor, were also put on the market. In a statement released by the church, treasurer Ned Odegaard said that the church’s finances remain “stable with substantial assets and no debt.”

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