By Celine Klosterman
CORALVILLE – St. Thomas More Parish has sold its former parish center to a company that intends to turn the historic Iowa City building into 16 studio and one-bedroom apartments.
Cedar Rapids-based Frantz-Hobart Management Services bought the building Feb. 17 for $450,000, said John LePeau, president of the parish’s steering committee. The developer specializes in historic renovations and aims to preserve the 9,000-square foot, stone Tudor Revival structure, which parish history says was built in 1928. “We’re in the process of putting it on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Tom Frantz, a partner in Frantz-Hobart.
He and his brother Mike Frantz, a fellow partner, attended religious education classes in the building in the 1960s, Tom Frantz said. “There’s a personal connection and sentimental value.”
Developers also appreciated the building’s “picturesque setting” among a grove of oak trees, he said.
The building served as a fraternity house for Psi Omega before it was purchased for use as a Catholic student center in 1940. St. Thomas More began using it as a rectory and parish center in 1943, according to parish historical information.
Currently, a small house that the parish owns in Iowa City serves as the rectory.
LePeau said St. Thomas More hadn’t used the former parish center since moving from Iowa City to Coralville in 2009 to better serve Catholics in that area. The parish’s new church includes offices and meeting space that made the older building unnecessary, he said.
“We received a lot of comments from parishioners who had memories of that building. But by this time, everyone is reconciled to the fact that it needed to be sold.”
Frantz-Hobart hopes to start renovations in March, Tom Frantz said.