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Church to sell St. Mary’s Star of the Sea building

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 4, 2011 03:06 PM

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The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is under agreement to sell a shuttered school building in East Boston to the Excel Academy Charter School.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said the church has signed a purchase and sale agreement on the former St. Mary’s Star of the Sea School at 58 Moore St., but offered no further details.

However, Dai Ellis, the chief executive officer for Excel Academy confirmed that the charter school is the prospective buyer.

“We’re in discussion with the archdiocese and we’re doing due diligence, but nothing’s been confirmed yet,” Ellis said by phone from Florida, where he is on vacation. Both parties said the details of the agreement would remain confidential until the school completes the due diligence process, which Ellis described as “open ended.”

The archdiocese abruptly closed St. Mary’s Star of the Sea School in 2008, to the alarm of many families. Two years earlier, it had sold the adjoining church, rectory and hall to South Boston photographer Michael Indresano for a mere $850,000, according to church documents. Twenty days later, Indresano re-sold the property for $2.7 million.

Excel Academy is a free, public, college-preparatory charter school for students from grades five to eight. Its current enrollment includes more than 200 students from East Boston and Chelsea, who mostly come from low-income Latino families and are chosen by lottery.

Ellis said the purchase of the former St. Mary’s school would allow Excel to relocate to a larger space — the school building and adjoining convent contain a total of 25,750 square feet, according to documents from downtown realty firm Colliers Meredith & Grew.

“The current school is operating in quite a tight space … next to a CVS, so we’ve been looking around at potential permanent homes for the school,” Ellis said.

This announcement follows recent news that Chelsea-based real estate developer Coliseum Investment Group will convert the nearby St. Dominic Savio Preparatory High School building into condominiums.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.

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