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WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH THE RAMS ANNEX?

 

UPDATE: Peter Feuerherd, spokesman for the Camden Diocese said today (June 30, 2014)in a response to the questions we asked him about the sale of the building on June 23, that the Diocese of Camden does not own the Gloucester Catholic Boys Annex building.  "St. Mary’s Parish owns that building," said Feuerherd. 

We contacted Monsignor James P. Curran, pastor of St. Mary’s Parish, for clarification. 

 “In the 1960’s the Diocese of Camden took over the administration of Gloucester Catholic High School,” said Monsignor Curran. “But St. Mary’s Parish remained the owner of the Boys Annex {Burlington and Monmouth Streets} and all the other buildings that house the high school.” 

Did the parish offer the deed to the Boys Annex to the City for a $1? 

 “No, we did not,” said Monsignor.  “The City wanted us to give them the building for a $1. They wanted to tear it down. We said no to their proposal. We would sell it if someone had an interest in it that would give us a half decent price. It is an old building and if someone wanted to make another school out of it, or something else, they would probably have to put in elevators.”

~William E. Cleary Sr.

 

 

Photo 2
The two story 10,000 plus square foot building is for sale, asking price $495,000
photo credit CNBNews.net

 

CNBNEWS POINT OF VIEW:

By William E. Cleary Sr.

 

We have been thinking about the recent proposal made by the Camden Diocese of  giving the

Gloucester Catholic Boys  Annex to the City of Gloucester for a $1. Presently the building is for sale, asking price $495,000. According to Robert Bevan, a city spokesperson, mayor and council were hoping to obtain a grant (s) to develop the property. But the Camden Diocese withdrew their offer.

We have asked the Diocese of Camden several times for a comment about their proposal but as of this posting we are still waiting.

Several Rams alumni, who contacted us via Email, were concerned that the historical building  would be demolished to make room for a parking lot for the new restaurant being built across from the school. One person suggested the building could be renovated into condominiums or a medical building. The building opened in 1926 as St. Mary's High School, named after St. Mary's parish, the local Catholic church.

To be realistic the odds of this building being converted into condos or a medical building is zero to none in our opinion.

The biggest reason?

This site is not suitable for commercial development because there is no parking. The neighborhood is residential. Parking in that area is a nightmare.

Which makes you wonder why the city allowed Dr. Klein’s old building, located across the street from the school, to be converted into a 30-plus seat restaurant. Where will their customers park? Incidentally the owners of the restaurant, to be called Chubby’s Steak House were approved for a $250,000 loan from the City’s UDAG (Urban Development Action Grant) program in April. According to the minutes from that meeting, the UDAG balance is $1.2 million.

 

Photo 2
The former doctor's office in the distance is being renovated inro  restaurant
photo credit CNBNews.net

One person, who commented, said he believed all along that the city had every intention of demolishing the school if the Diocese had given the site to the community. Once it was demolished it would become a parking lot for customers of Chubby’s. He points to the minutes of the June 2 work session that references a note in the Engineer’s Report, “discussion on knocking down Annex Building, ” as the reason for his assumption.

We think the majority of residents in Gloucester City and elsewhere in South Jersey could care less about what happens to that annex or the main school buildings located a block away.

It is a well-known fact that the Diocese of Camden has every intention of moving the school to Deptford, in Gloucester County, sometime in the near future. In April, groundbreaking ceremonies for a $4 million athletic complex were held at that location. The school alumni have already raised $1 million towards that total. 

The Diocese of Camden has a record of abandoning the inner city. Even though local residents protested the closing of St. Mary’s grammar school the Diocese closed it anyway. And, it wasn’t that long ago that they packed up Camden Catholic and moved it from Camden City to Cherry Hill.

For the record, we would hate to see the school demolished. That is our school, GCHS Alumnus Class of ’63. That building brings back many fond memories. But let’s be practical. Do you really believe an investor is going to spend a million dollars or more to renovate it with the parking situation the way it is?

Besides, there are so many empty school buildings in South Jersey to choose from that are much better suited for such a venture because of their location and available parking. For example, Sacred Heart School, in Mount Ephraim, Highland Park School, Gloucester City.

Unfortunately, unless a miracle happens, the destiny for the Gloucester Catholic High School’s Boy’s Annex is demolition. Or it will end up just sitting there gathering dust and cobwebs.

We have been wrong before so we could be wrong again about this too.

Time will tell. 

 +++++++

WHAT IS A UDAG? Below are two articles that give more details about Gloucester City’s Urban Action Grant (UDAG) program. In 1984 Holt Cargo Systems borrowed $5.6 million from the Urban Development Action Grant program which was run by the federal government to be used for the expansion of its terminal. Those two UDAG’s generated a total of $21.8 million for the City to use on various ventures. The first part also looked at how the UDAG funds were spent. As mentioned in the article above the UDAG balance today is $1.2 million.

The Tale of Holt, the Coast Guard Base, and the City of Gloucester City (FIRST PART)

The Tale of Holt, the Coast Guard Base, and the City of Gloucester City (SECOND PART)  

 

 

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