32 homes, planned after the former Woonsocket Church and Vicarage, will sell for $510,000

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH recently sold the former Sacred Heart Church at 415 Olo St. in Woonsocket to Belchikoo LLC, affiliated with Pawtucket-based Nexus Property Management, for $510,000. Gregory Rice, left, general manager of Nexus, says his company’s plans to convert the church into 32 market-ready apartments have the support of Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, right. / COURTESY OF NEXUS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

WOONSOCKET – The former Sacred Heart Church at 415 Olo St. was recently sold for $510,000 as a local real estate and property management company advances plans to renovate the building and an adjacent rectory into 32 market-standard units.

The Church of the Sacred Heart Woonsocket, a corporation of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, sold the property to Belchikoo LLC, which is affiliated with Pawtucket-based Nexus Property Management, according to a copy of the quitclaim deed. This comes after the property was first listed for sale by real estate agency RE/MAX Commercial earlier this year for $575,000.

Gregory Rice, general manager and vice president of franchise sales for Nexus Property Management, said his company plans to build the apartments on the existing 8,100-square-foot lot. Rice said the project received zoning approval from a city board earlier this year, and the city council approved a seven-year tax treaty that allows the home to be exempt from property taxes for the first two years of operation, after which annual property taxes begin in third year at 20% and increasing annually until the full tax bill is assessed in the eighth year.

The 32-unit project, spanning 15,000 square feet within the current church building and attached rectory, is now awaiting final city approval for construction. The project also needs a deviation from the RI Rehabilitation Code Board, Rice said.

A groundbreaking is scheduled for this year and construction will take about nine months, Rice said.

The sale of the church property came with documentary restrictions that prevented Belchikoo from using the Sacred Heart name in future operations of the property, while also prohibiting the company from using the church building for purposes contrary to the Catholic faith, notably abortion, religious services for other religions, the sale of pornographic material, paranormal gatherings, and gambling.

All violations of the deed restrictions passed on to heirs or transferees that can only be removed by the Church are enforceable in a court of law, including immediate injunctive relief, which the agreement could stop all violations. The charter restrictions state that this applies to the current church building, but that it would not apply to the property if the building were demolished, and any charter restricted use must be approved by written authorization from the Bishop of Providence.

Warwick-based Bentley Builders is the general contractor for the church renovation, Rice said, and Providence-based ZDS Architecture & Interior Design is the architect for the project.

The apartments will draw on the existing 100-space church parking lot across the street, Rice said.

The brick building, built in 1920, saw its last trade fair four years ago.

Sacred Heart Church’s redevelopment plan has the support of Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, Rice said, along with other city officials.

The project is one of several recent Rhode Island church renovations as non-profit ONE Neighborhood Builders enters a pre-development phase to transform Cumberland’s former St. Patrick’s Church into an affordable 42/ Senior housing complex called St. Patrick’s Place.

“We wanted to do this because, unfortunately, the number of vacant churches is increasing and the possibilities for use are very limited,” Rice said. “Converting them into apartments is a unique way to restore these properties and also contribute to Rhode Island’s overall housing stock, which is lacking overall.” It is really a win-win situation for the parishes, for us and also for the diocese.”

Marc Larocque is a PBN writer.

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