Lawyer: No ‘viable’ bids for convent land

John Ruch

JAMAICA HILLS—None of the multiple bids for the 15-acre Daughters of St. Paul site appear to be “viable,” according to an attorney representing the religious order.

Known bidders for the woodland behind the order’s St. Paul’s Avenue headquarters include Brookline’s Dexter School and an unidentified housing developer who proposed about 40 units.

“There’s no decision on taking those bids,” said attorney Michael McLaughlin, without specifying the number or identity of the bidders. “I don’t believe there’s any viable offer out there.”

McLaughlin is also representing the Catholic order in a pension fund lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Boston, a dispute that made the front page of the Boston Globe last month. The pension fund dispute and the woodland property offering are “entirely unrelated,” McLaughlin said.

The order privately advertised its woodland and some buildings for sale or lease in an offering last fall. The bids were solicited by a major New York-based firm with a specific deadline and a request for further details from at least some bidders. Statements from the known bidders indicate that they expected the order to make a decision relatively soon.

But McLaughlin said the property offering was purely exploratory to see what the land might be worth. He noted that the order had no asking price for the land.

“Nothing is even remotely close to being done,” McLaughlin said. “It’s years off, as far as I can tell.”

McLaughlin said that the property offering was inspired by previous unsolicited redevelopment proposals.

“It’s more the interest of people who want to bring things to the sisters than the sisters trying to bring anything in,” he said. “We are just tired of dealing with the issue.”

The pension fund lawsuit, filed with the state Supreme Judicial Court in December, is about the pensions of the order’s lay employees, not the nuns who live there, McLaughlin said. The Daughters of St. Paul is an order independent of the Archdiocese, but agreed to merge pension funds more than 20 years ago. But for the past five years, the order has been seeking to remove its pension from the Archdiocese fund, which has been losing value.

“They simply want to run their own pension funds,” McLaughlin said of the order.

Archdiocese spokesperson Terrence Donilon called the lawsuit “unexpected.”

“The Archdiocese of Boston has a long-standing and good relationship with the Daughters of St. Paul,” said Donilon. “We will resolve this disagreement through mediation and continue to work closely together in the future for the good of the Church.”

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