St. James has officially taken over historic 51 Monmouth Street, according to an email from Red Bank Catholic Principal Abatemarco sent to high school administration and parents involved in the Imagine campaign.
The transfer of the building to the Catholic Church was criticized my some members of the public who believed that the 121-year-old building should be maintained by the borough and that the sale to a religious organization violated separation of church and state laws. A lawsuit alleging improprieties was filed by two area residents to halt the sale but was tossed out of Monmouth County Superior Court in September.
According to Abatemarco, closing on the property took place Monday. In his email he called the acquisition of the historic building, which served as Shrewsbury’s municipal hall well before Red Bank was formed, an important goal of Imagine RBC 2010.
“When we launched Imagine, we set out to improve and expand Academics, Athletics, and the Arts,” he wrote in an email. “By securing this historic building, we have procured expanded permanent space for the fine and performing arts; we have magnified out commitment to these programs and we have taken another step to creating a true campus for our students.”
The recent history of 51 Monmouth Street has been a tumultuous one. In 1999, ownership of the building was transferred from the borough to non-profit group Kidsbridge with the goal of preserving it and developing a Children’s Cultural Center of Red Bank. Kidsbridge struggled and was eventually absorbed by the Community YMCA, which invested significant funds to preserve the property.
The Y attempted to sell the building to St. James more than a year ago but was stopped by the borough. Eventually, the Y sued Red Bank and, presumably as part of the settlement, the borough relented by approving a resolution in January, 2010 ending the litigation and allowing the sale to move forward.
In court documents, the Y listed the sale price of the building to St. James at $1.2 million, though it’s unclear what the final price was. An adjoining firehouse will remain in operation under an agreed upon 99-year, $1 lease. St. James is also required to maintain the historic aesthetic of the building and must allow some public use, though in a limited capacity.
Abatemarco thanked all of those who worked on the project and those whose generosity made the campaign a reality.
“This project was challenging and complicated but with patience, perseverance and an unwavering sense of purpose, we prevailed as Caseys always do,” he wrote.