University City Newman Center ministry moving to make way for new high-rise

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is under contract to sell the current home of University City’s Newman Center student ministry at 3720 Chestnut St. for redevelopment into a residential high-rise.

The Rev. Carlos Keen said in an email to Newman Center supporters Monday that the ministry will move into the former school building and church basement of the nearby St. Agatha-St. James Parish, where he is pastor.

Proceeds from the sale to an entity called EPG Urban LLC will be used to renovate those spaces for the Newman Center’s use and for repairs to the church building’s exterior, as well as to help shore up the Archdiocese’s finances, Keen said.

The University of Pennsylvania, which currently uses the former school building at 111 38th St. as office space, has been notified that its lease there will not be renewed, he said.

Keen declined in the email to disclose how much EPG would pay for the 9,500-square-foot building on a quarter-acre of land prior to the closing of the transaction.

He described what would replace the current Newman Center, which serves Catholic students at University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University, as a high-rise residential tower with ground-floor commercial spaces.

Keen said the church basement will be renovated into part of the new Newman Center this spring and summer, with the former school building’s redevelopment scheduled to begin Jan. 2019 when Penn moves out.

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