The Nun has what the developers wanted – a monastery.

Developers are always on the lookout for the next prime real estate plot to build their next big project on, and abbeys are increasingly becoming an attractive option. The number of nuns in the United States is rapidly decreasing and aging. Now, a question mark hangs over the abbey, which in many cases is the home and headquarters of the missionaries of the nuns, and developers are arriving with answers. And cash.

A former convent in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette has been converted into luxury condominiums. The 180,000-square-foot building was once an outpost of the Christian Sisters of Charity.

Ranch Malibu hoteliers and owners Alex and Sue Glasscock dropped $11 million in August on their 140-acre estate and 40,000-square-foot mansion in Tuxedo Park, New York. Natale Development, which bought a dilapidated former convent from the Sisters of Mercy in Buffalo for $75,000 in 2017, formally proposed a senior living development for the site last November, buffalo news report.According to Accordia Realty Ventures, Accordia Realty Ventures has proposed the development of a 111-unit multifamily project at the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy in Mendham, New Jersey repair.

Institutional and individual buyers have also struck deals with nuns. In 2019, Long Island’s Bayport and Blue Point neighborhoods bought the St. Ursula Center from Tildonk’s Ursuline Sisters for $3.7 million. According to Patch, the current Bayport-Blue Point Library has been where the nuns have been since 1935.

Purchasing for the Abbey has not always been smooth sailing, though. Katy Perry infamously fell out with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary over their purchase of the eight-acre convent in Los Feliz, California . In addition to the $14.5 million she ended up paying for the property in 2016, she lost $2.6 million taking them to court.

“There’s a lot of debate about who should buy it,” said Dr. Mark M. Gray, director of the CARA Catholic Poll at Georgetown University’s Center for Apostolic Applied Research (CARA).

The sisters may disagree on whether a buyer is a good fit, and sometimes want properties to continue serving the public in some way, he said.

“I think people want the church to keep some things, but the sisters also have to do what’s best for them,” Gray said.

Sisters Do What’s Best For Them – There is tension between the Franciscan nuns of the Newton, Massachusetts-based Missionary of the Immaculate Conception and the high school that uses their of older nuns told boston globe It was “not financially sustainable” to maintain the Abbey and the property on which Mount Alvernia High School sits.

Boston College and Newton Country Day School both made offers on the property, but the nuns don’t appear to be biting. Still, their decision to sell meant the closure of the high school, and the nuns were met with wrath from parents and students.

While nuns and the church often prefer to hold on to the property, the proceeds from the sale are often used to support a rapidly aging community of nuns. In 2014, only 1 percent of nuns in the United States were under the age of 40, according to CARA. That year, more than 58 percent of the nuns were over 70 years old.

First, the number of women becoming nuns has plummeted. The number of nuns in the United States peaked in 1966 at 181,000 and hovered at just under 50,000 in 2014, CARA reported. Gray noted that this decline is unique to the United States, and many other countries are also seeing increases in the number of nuns.

There will only be 84 new nuns in the U.S. in 2021, Gray said. “Not thousands.”

This decline has proven to be fruitful for developers. In 2014, SummerHill Homes bought a 10.3-acre convent from the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary for $18 million, according to Redfin. SummerHill is developing 17 luxury homes in a project called “Sorellas,” Italian for “sister,” with prices starting at $3.5 million.

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