Mount Vernon church auction gets bidders but no buyer

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The New Refuge Deliverance Cathedral photographed from above. Credit: A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers

Mount Vernon’s New Refuge Deliverance Cathedral is still on the market after Friday’s long awaited auction drew bidders but didn’t end in a sale.

Two parties submitted bids during the online auction for the historic church at 1110 St. Paul St., but neither was high enough to meet the reserve set by the sellers, according to auctioneer Charles Billig of A.J. Billig and Co. Auctioneers.

The auction was a voluntary sale on behalf of the church leadership, and about 10 prospective buyers pre-registered to bid.

The church didn’t accept the bids, Billig said after the auction ended at noon. “The expectation was they would be higher.”

The auctioneer had suggested an opening bid of $350,000 for the auction, but it was not marketed as an absolute auction in which the buyers would definitely accept any bid.

The bids were $355,000 and $360,000.

Billig said one of the bidders is a local developer experienced in the adaptive reuse of historic churches, and the other is a prospective “user,” meaning a buyer that would occupy the church itself, although not necessarily a church group.

Billig said his company will now meet with the two bidders and any other interested parties to see if they can come to an agreement with the seller.

The property has received interest from more than two possible buyers, but most have wanted to learn more about the building before they submitted a bid or contract, he said.

Based on the interest shown to date, Billig said, he is optimistic that the church will be able to complete a sale. “I think there’s a good chance of getting a deal worked out.”

Billig said the company had better results with the online auction of a house at 1407 Park Avenue in Bolton Hill, once the home of architect Charles Cassell. That sale drew about 40 bidders, and the house sold for $515,000, he said.

The stone church, a Gothic-style building with Romanesque traces, was designed by E. Francis Baldwin and Bruce Price and constructed between 1870 and 1872. It contains 16,338 square feet of space, according to tax records.

It was originally known as Christ Protestant Episcopal Church and later as just Christ Church. New Refuge acquired it in 1994, after Christ Church ceased operations.

The building has been surrounded by scaffolding since 2013, when neighbors noticed that shingles were falling off the roof.

Ed Gunts

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