By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — The Diocese of Davenport headquarters is expected to become the property of St. Ambrose University in early July.
On May 23, the university announced it has negotiated the $3.35 million purchase of the diocese’s 48.5-acre St. Vincent property with the bankruptcy trustee handling the court’s liquidation of diocesan assets. A deed to the property was part of the $37 million settlement the diocese reached last year with its creditors, most of whom are survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
“As we consider our future as a leading Midwestern university, I believe the St. Vincent Center property would be an important acquisition given its size and proximity to campus,” St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, said in a statement.
Environmental testing, surveying of the property and engineering inspections will be done prior to finalizing the purchase, said Mike Poster, the university’s vice president of finance. The university is paying for the property with available cash reserves, he added.
While diocesan staff expressed gratitude and relief about the purchase agreement, no decisions have been made about whether headquarters will remain at the St. Vincent Center. Eleven priests live at the center and 40 people work there.
“Right now we don’t have any immediate plans. We’ve focused on acquiring the property. We’ll work with the Board of Trustees and senior management team to develop strategic planning for the property,” Poster told The Catholic Messenger.
Laurie Hoefling, a longtime member of the diocesan staff, said she feels a sense of relief about the news. She describes St. Ambrose as “a friendly buyer and we’ve always had such a good relationship with them. We trust that they have our best interests at heart.”
Among the decisions to consider is the long-term lease agreement that the diocese has with neighboring Congregation of the Humility of Mary. That lease likely would be assumed by St. Ambrose, Poster said.
Assumption High School also is located near the St. Vincent property and will be included in discussions on utilization of space, Poster added.
Mel Foster Co.’s Commercial Real Estate Services is handling the sale of the property, which listed for $3.5 million. The property’s buildings house 21 apartments, one duplex, offices, workshops, four multi-car garages, chapel, meeting rooms, gym and more. The St. Vincent Center, the main building, is 109 years old.
The land features a combination of several lots, most level and cleared and some with creek and wooded area.
Msgr. John Hyland, the diocese’s vicar general, said “As we work out further details with St. Ambrose University, we hope that the chancery will be our home.”