The Future of St. Benedictine Monastery

The Future of St. Benedictine Monastery


>>WITH SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY SURROUNDING THE MONASTERY, WE ASKED THE DEVELOPER, ROSS RULNEY, IF THERE’S ANY ROOM FOR COMPROMISE, AND HOW HE PLANS TO RESPOND TO CONCERNS RAISED BY THE NEIGHBORHOOD.>>SO THE PROPERTY, REGARDLESS OF MY INVOLVEMENT OR NOT, WILL BE FULLY DEVELOPED. EVERY SQUARE INCH OF THAT PROPERTY, EVEN IF I HAD NEVER GOTTEN INVOLVED, IS GOING TO BE DEVELOPED. MY VISION IS HOUSING, MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING, BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMICS, THE PURCHASE PRICE, THE EXISTING ENTITLEMENT, IT WILL END UP BEING SOME KIND OF A MULTI-FAMILY PRODUCT. FOR ME, IT WOULD BE A HIGH-END, LUXURY FOR-RENT COMMUNITY.>>PEOPLE ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE MONASTERY AND ITS CONTINUED SURVIVAL. I THINK THEY’RE ALSO VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE HEIGHT OF THE PROPOSED BUILDINGS BEING OUT OF SCALE WITH THE REST OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD.>>NEIGHBORS HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS FOR HOW THEY’D LIKE THE PROPERTY DEVELOPED. IS THERE ANY ROOM FOR COMPROMISE BETWEEN THEIR VISION AND YOURS?>>THERE IS A TON OF ROOM FOR COMPROMISE, AND I FEEL LIKE I’VE GONE TO THE TABLE WITH SOME SIGNIFICANT COMPROMISES. SO WHEN WE STARTED THIS PROCESS AND MEETING WITH SMALLER GROUPS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD, IT WAS STRONGLY SUGGESTED — AND THAT’S MY BEST WAY TO PUT IT VERY MILDLY — DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BRING STUDENT HOUING INTO OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, AND DO NOT CONSIDER DEMOLISHING THAT PROPERTY. THOSE WERE THE TWO MOST SIGNIFICANT CONCERNS. DEAL-STARTER CONCERNS. WELL, THOSE WERE TAKEN OFF THE TABLE IMMEDIATELY. IF I AM GOING TO DEVELOP THAT PROPERTY, THE MONASTERY WILL BE PRESERVED THROUGH A LANDMARK DESIGNATION IN PERPETUITY. IF THAT’S NOT PROOF OF PUTTING YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD, I DON’T KNOW. BUT I TOOK IT FURTHER. I HIRED A FIRM, THE LEAD ARGUABLY AS A PRESSERVATIONIST ARRANGE TECT.>>WE’VE BEEN WATCHING THIS BUILDING FOR ABOUT 2 1/2 YEARS. WE ARE HISTORIC PRESERVATION ARCHITECTS. IF YOU’RE IN THAT BUSINESS, YOU’RE WATCHING THIS BUILDING WANTING TO SEE HOW YOU MIGHT BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS.>>HE WOULDN’T BE INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT IF HE TOO WASN’T EXCITED BY THE POSSIBILITIES. I THINK THAT BRINGING HIM IN NOT ONLY WAS A SHOWING OR AN EXAMPLE TO THE COMMUNITY THAT I WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING, BUT ALSO BRINGING HIM IN REALLY SHOWS THAT WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO MAKE THIS WORK. NOW, MANY PEOPLE ARE MAKING COMMENTS, YOU KNOW, HOW MUCH NEEDS TO BE MADE OFF OF THIS PROJECT? DEVELOPER GREED. WE’VE SEEN THAT ALL OVER THE PLACE. THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND THE RISK INVOLVED IN A PROJECT LIKE THIS. IT’S SIGNIFICANT.>>AND IS THERE A CASE TO BE MADE THAT THE PROPERTY’S VALUE IS REALLY IN THE MONASTERY ITSELF, AND BUILDING THESE SORT OF HIGH-DENSITY DEVELOPMENTS AROUND IT COULD ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, DIMINISH ITS WORTH?>>WELL, THE VALUE OF THE PROPERTY FROM AN ECONOMIC POINT OF VIEW IS IN THE VACANT LAND. THERE’S AN ARGUMENT THAT THE EXISTING MONASTERY DOES NOT HAVE MUCH ECONOMIC VALUE. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE CHAPEL? IT’S BEAUTIFUL, BUT IT’S ALMOST THE ALBATROSS OF THE DEVELOPMENT BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, AS YOU TRAVEL IN DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES, THERE ARE OLD CHAPELS BEING USED AS A BOOKSTORE BECAUSE WHAT DO YOU DO WITH IT? SO I BELIEVE THE ECONOMIC VALUE TODAY IS IN THE FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PROJECT AS DO MOST OF THE OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES.>>HOW ENDANGERED WOULD YOU SAY THE MONASTERY IS RIGHT NOW?>>I DON’T THINK THAT IT TRULY IS. WITH ME AS THE DEVELOPER, NOT AT ALL. I AM NOT GOING TO BE THE PERSON THAT PULLS A DEMO PERMIT AND TAKES THAT BUILDING DOWN. THAT’S — THAT’S EASY FOR ME TO SAY. NOW, I VERY MUCH, VERY BADLY WANT TO DEVELOP THIS PROJECT. I’M EXCITED ABOUT IT, AND I’VE DECIDED THAT IF I AM UNSUCCESSFUL AS THE DEVELOPER, IT’S GOING TO BE BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY, I DIDN’T GET THE SUPPORT. I DIDN’T GET THE VOTES FROM COUNCIL. THAT’S IT. I’M GOING TO GO ALL THE WAY. I’M GOING TO TRY. I’M NOT GOING TO QUIT. AT THAT TIME, IF I CAN’T DEVELOP THAT PRODUCT, THE PRODUCT THAT THE ARCHITECTS AND THE PLANNERS AND MYSELF HAVE BEEN WORKING ON, THEN I WILL BACK AWAY. THE PROPERTY WILL BE SOLD TO THE NEXT GUY. NOW, WHAT HE DOES WITH THE PROPERTY, I DON’T KNOW. I HOPE THAT THEY WILL PRESERVE IT AS I AM OFFERING TO DO SO, BUT I CAN’T CONTROL THE NEXT PERSON OR THEIR INTENTIONS.>>THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME TODAY.>>THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

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