Burlington's Immaculate Conception Church going on the market

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) One of Burlington's most valuable pieces of property -- the Immaculate Conception Church -- will be sold.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington announced this spring that the church was being demoted from a cathedral to a parish because of a lack of parishioners and a growing deficit. Now the church has decided to unload the property altogether.

After months of mulling over its financial situation, parishioners at the Immaculate Conception parish in Burlington have made a decision.

"The parish is working forward on the sale of the property," said Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne.

They are deciding between two commercial real estate firms to list the property. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington will not release any information on which firms it is considering or what they hope to sell it for.

The city values the building itself at more than $2.1 million dollars and the land at more than $2.2 million.

"I've always said it has to go back to the parish because it's their property," Bishop Coyne said.

That means any money from the sale could not be used by the diocese, which is under investigation for allegations of abuse at the former St. Joseph's Orphanage. The diocese says the parish is not dealing with any sex abuse settlement cases right now.

Bishop Coyne says the property could be converted to commercial or residential use, or both. "Obviously it wouldn't be sold to any kind of a firm that would do something contrary to Catholic teaching. That's part of a deal," he said.

Burlington CityPlace developer Don Sinex says he has expressed interest in the property in the past. Other area developers did not respond to a request for comment.

The congregation of the Immaculate Conception chose to merge with the Cathedral of Saint Joseph's in May, less than a ten minute walk from the church.