In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, April 30, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron told staff of the Archdiocese of Detroit that their offices would be moving by the end of 2014.
In a cost-cutting measure, the Archdiocese will sell its Chancery offices at 1234 Washington Blvd. home to the church offices since the 1920s, and its office space in the Gabriel Richard Building at 305 Michigan Avenue, and will consolidate operations in a single building at 1212 Griswold, in the Capitol Park Historic District. That building once housed the United Way offices, and the Catholic Archdiocese will now become the anchor in that community, bringing 185 employees to the district.
“We have asked our parishes to plan their futures in terms of mission vs. maintenance,” Archbishop Vigernon said, speaking of the ongoing Changing Lives Together program which will result in mergers and ultimately, in 27 fewer parishes.
“In making this move, we are giving a good example,” he explained. “Together, we refocus on our mission—Sharing Christ in and through the Church.”
The move is described by archdiocesan personnel as “wise stewardship of resources.” Archdiocesan employees are currently working in four different locations: in the Chancery Building and the Gabriel Richard Building in downtown Detroit, in the archdiocesan print shop in the Corktown area, and in offices at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Under the new plan, the Archdiocese will rent space for its administrative offices in a building on Griswold Street, in Capitol Park. The print shop will move to space in the former seminary high school.
Archbishop Vigneron expressed confidence that the move, which will bring departments “figuratively and literally closer together,” will result in tremendous good will, easier interaction and improved efficiency. “Being under one roof,” he said, “will help us work more efficiently and with a greater sense of satisfaction.”Sales of the current Archdiocesan buildings will bring total proceeds of $3,254,000. The Archdiocese plans a cash sale of the Gabriel Richard Building, former home to its television studios, human resources, and other departments, to GRB New Detroit, LLC. The Chancery Building and an adjacent two-story building which is unoccupied will be sold for cash to Capitol Park Partnership LLC. The Print Shop building at 1501 Sixth Street in Corktown has also been sold to a private telecommunications firm.
These moves are not the first for the Catholic Archdiocese in the area. The Catholic Book Store, once a highly visible part of the Chancery Building’s storefront entrance, was asked to relocate and has established a new store in Dearborn Heights. St. Al’s community center, across the street from the Chancery on Washington Blvd., was condemned last year when repairs were deemed too expensive.
St. Aloysius Church, located next door to the Chancery, will remain open and will continue to serve the homeless and to provide a lunchtime haven for downtown workers. (Beautiful St. Al’s has been the subject of an earlier post, here.)
With completion of the move in the last quarter of 2014, the Archdiocese will have pared its office space from 150,000 square feet to only 50,000 square feet.
Early in the planning process, the Archbishop, along with the Finance Council and the College of Consultors, considered whether to relocate the Archdiocesan offices to another area, outside of downtown Detroit. In the end, though, they decided to remain in downtown Detroit and to commit long-term to the central city.