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Developer to buy century-old St. Mary’s School PDF Print E-mail
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Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 18:21

Ansay to pay $625,000 for Port property as St. John XXIII launches fundraising campaign to expand St. Peter’s campus

  St. John XXIII Catholic Parish has accepted an offer from Ansay Holdings to buy St. Mary’s School and the parish house next to it for $625,000, Parish Administrator Mike Burch said Tuesday.
    But that doesn’t mean classes will end at the 101-year-old school immediately, Burch said. Ansay has agreed to allow the school to continue operating in the facility until an addition to the parish’s school at St. Peter of Alcantara Church is completed.
    “It is gracious that Ansay has offered to let us stay in the building,” he said. “It’s an open-ended offer, but our plans are to move as soon as we can.”
 SCHOOL LG   The offer the parish has accepted gives Ansay Holdings six months to develop a plan for the buildings and have it approved by the city, conduct needed inspections and come up with a plan to ensure the parish has the same number of parking spaces for St. Mary’s Church when the firm’s development is complete, Burch said.
    Parking is a key to the deal, he said, noting there isn’t enough street parking in the area to accommodate people attending Mass.
    “If we lose the parking, we might as well close,” Burch said, noting that if Ansay’s plans don’t give the parish the same amount of parking, it can back out of the deal.
    Ansay is looking at creating housing, particularly apartments, in the buildings, he said, and is studying the potential for underground parking.
    If, during the next six months, Ansay determines the project is too costly, it can back out of the deal, Burch added.
    Calls to Ansay Holdings seeking comment were not returned.
    After six months, Burch said, Ansay will pay for the property but the parish will retain the title and the school will continue to operate there until the addition at St.Peter’s is completed.
    The deal still requires approval from the archdiocese, he said.
    All this happens as the parish is beginning its Gather & Grow fundraising appeal to raise $4.5 million to build an addition to St. Peter’s School and make some renovations to the church.
    That’s needed because there isn’t enough room at St. Peter’s currently to accommodate all the educational programs that would then be housed there — not only the elementary and middle schools but also youth ministry programs, adult education and other related activities.
     That lack of space caused the school board to delay its planned consolidation of the schools, something it had sought to do two years ago.
    The impetus for the consolidation is twofold, Burch said — the St. Mary’s building is old and costly to operate and maintain, and it is inefficient to operate two separate school facilities.
    The building proposals calls for a 947,000-square-foot addition to be constructed to the southeast side of the St. Peter’s School building, Burch said. The addition would house a secure entrance to the school, as well as middle school classrooms, including a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) lab.
    The elementary classes would primarily be housed in the existing rooms on the northeast side of the school, while preschool and kindergarten classes would be held in existing rooms on the northwest side of the school. There would be a separate entrance for these students.
    There would be some renovations to the church narthex, including the creation of a gathering area near the church entrance.
    The classrooms would be used by the parish’s religion classes and adult ministries when school is not in session, Burch said.
    The design also allows the school to be secured and separate from the church, he said. Currently, students crossing from one side of the school to the other go through the church.
    “That’s difficult at times, especially when there are things like funerals going on,” Burch said.    
    The parish needs to have half the funds in hand before it can begin the building project, Burch said.
    “By the middle of November, we should know what the parish is willing to and can do,” he said, noting parishioners are asked to make their pledges to the campaign by that time.
    The funds Ansay will pay for the school will go toward the building project, Burch said.
    Burch noted that the congregation is also seeking to sell Immaculate Conception School and the parish office building in Saukville, but there hasn’t been interest in these facilities.
    The parish hopes to move to the new school in a couple years, Burch said.
    “This is very exciting and daunting,” Burch said. “We’ve been working toward this for two or three years now. I know for some people, it’s tough, but we can’t keep going as we are now.”
    St. John XXIII School includes campuses at St. Mary’s School, which houses preschool through fourth-grade classes, and St. Peter’s School, where fifth through eighth-grade classes are held.
    There are about 200 students enrolled in the school.

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