St. William’s update: Pastor seeking realtors

The parish that owns the site of the former St. William’s School is looking for realtors to lease or sell the property even as the Boston archdiocese insists that the door remains open to moving a private Roman Catholic high school into the vacant property.

The parish pastor, Father Jack Ahern, and the archdiocese had been locked in negotiations over bringing North Cambridge Catholic High School, part of a national network of 22 schools across the country called Cristo Rey, to the former St. William’s School site. The Savin Hill property is currently being used as a storage site.

Ahern thought there might have been a deal: $1.5 million for the site and set-aside placements for neighborhood students. He had originally pushed for what he says is the property’s assessed value – $3.2 million.

But Ahern says he hasn’t heard back from archdiocesan chancellor Jim McDonough. “Basically, it’s on the chancellor’s desk,” Ahern said Tuesday. “As far as I know, the discussions are over and we’re moving forward.”

Ahern said he still believed that the high school would be a “great fit” for the site. “Unfortunately, we need to move forward,” he said. “At this point, it’s beyond our control.”

But a spokesman for the archdiocese said a deal is still possible. “The door is not shut as far as we’re concerned,” said Terrence Donilon, the spokesman. “We’ll deal directly with the pastor and the parish in working through this issue.”

Donilon declined further comment and declined to make McDonough available for comment.

The archdiocese has been seeking to buy the former grammar school from the parish and lease it to officials with the private Cambridge institution. At one point, the former St. William’s School housed a parochial school, but that has since been combined with the old St. Margaret’s school into a single grammar school called Blessed Mother Teresa.

Neighbors of the former St. William’s School remained hopeful that a deal could be struck. “I don’t know if it’s completely off the table,” said state Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Savin Hill).

In late October, former Lt. Gov. Thomas O’Neill, an alumnus of the high school who heads its board of trustees, told the Reporter that time was running out to place the high school in Savin Hill and high school officials needed to look at other locations in Boston in order to be able to open at a new location next fall.

The high school, currently located near Davis Square in Cambridge, is looking to expand to 400 students from 265 students. Most of its students are from Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.