Closed Burlington church under contract to be sold

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 20, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A downtown Burlington church that has been unused since 2018 is under contract to be sold.

The former Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception sits in the center of Burlington completely empty, but that might not be the case for much longer.

The church is currently under contract to be purchased, according to the real estate company Donahue and Associates. They are not releasing the name of the buyer or the sales price. But we do know the property was originally listed for $8.5 million and negotiations have been underway for several months.

Construction on the Catholic co-cathedral was completed in 1977, replacing a previous church that burned down in 1972. But due to a lack of parishioners, the church has sat unused since 2018.

Since its closure, the church has been surrounded by a chain link fence and remained in active danger of demolition. One of the closest calls came last December when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington applied for a permit to demolish the structure. The city says the permit request was withdrawn soon after it was submitted, something state historians celebrated.

“The thought of losing it is really disheartening. It’s an existing building and there’s a saying that the greenest building is one that is already built. There’s a lot of invested material and energy in this structure. It’s a very large building that could be adapted for any number of uses, so we don’t want to just throw that away and put it in a landfill,” said Devin Colman, the Vermont state architectural historian. “It’s one of the very few properties in the state that is an example of modernist architecture and landscape design. With historic buildings, we always try to encourage alternatives to demolition through some sort of adaptive reuse finding a new way to use what’s there.”

We don’t know when the closing of the sale is expected to happen. And as of right now, the future of the cathedral is still unclear. Any information on who the buyer is and any redevelopment plans are still undisclosed. And there is no guarantee the new buyer won’t demolish the building.

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