The headquarters of the Diocese of Rockville Center will soon be transformed into 60,000 square feet of office space as part of a $19 million project.
Philips International Holding Corp., a Great Neck-based real estate company, plans to redo the property. After the diocese filed for bankruptcy following more than 200 lawsuits from victims of alleged sexual abuse, Synergy Holding Partners LLC purchased the diocese’s pastoral center, or chancery, at 50 N. Park Ave., l year, during bankruptcy proceedings. From there, Rock 50 LLC, a subsidiary of Phillips International, purchased the building for $9.5 million.
The acquisition included the five-story office building at the corner of North Park Avenue and Sunrise Highway, as well as the adjacent parking lot, which holds approximately 58 cars. A bankruptcy court has approved the sale of the center and all proceeds are to be used by the diocese to compensate creditors.
Calls to Phillips International seeking comment had not been returned at press time, and a spokesperson for the diocese referred the Herald to a press release from last March when asked to comment on the OK.
“The sale and our relocation will have no effect on our ministry,” the Reverend Eric Fasano, vicar general of the diocese, said in the statement. “In fact, the resulting operational efficiencies should free up resources that can be directed to those who need them most.”
The diocese began offering the pastoral center for sale in 2018, after determining the property was no longer profitable. At the time of the sale, the diocese was not using all the available space in the building. The diocese will continue to operate much as it has for much of the coronavirus pandemic, with many employees working remotely, while others will occupy other diocesan buildings, the statement said.
Philips International, a developer and landlord that manages more than 250 buildings across the country, plans to renovate the building before businesses move in, but does not yet have any potential tenants committed to the project. The lobby, lower level and upper five floors will be renovated and some building systems will be replaced.
Fred Parola, executive director of the town of Hempstead’s Industrial Development Agency, said the developers have requested a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, deal in which Philips would pay around $300,000 the first year and over $800,000 per year. 20. Rock 50 got preliminary IDA approval for over $2.6 million in profits last month, but they won’t be officially cleared until there’s a public hearing and that IDA will not have completed its review of the project. Rock 50 will also receive more than $2.1 million in property tax reductions over 20 years and nearly $500,000 in other tax exemptions.
Parola added that the diocese has not had to pay taxes on the building in the past, so the project will generate new revenue while bringing 223 full-time employees to the village.
“It’s a win-win,” Parola said. “It’s a boon for the school district, for the village, the city and the county as well. The addition of 223 workers will obviously benefit all jurisdictions, from people buying lunches to getting involved in the community there and increasing the number of pedestrians downtown.