A petition to convene a special session of the Diocesan Assembly of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern Diocese) is currently being circulated. The special session would give the Diocesan Council the chance to present to the Diocesan Assembly a full report on considerations and decisions taken to date regarding the sale or transfer of any portion of the Diocesan Center and development rights associated with St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral and the cathedral’s plaza. It would also give the clergy, chairpersons and delegates of the Eastern Diocese the chance to properly review and consider a proposed transaction.
Please encourage your priest, parish council chairperson and duly elected delegates to sign the petition.
During the May 2018 Diocesan Assembly, the Diocesan Council Chairman informed Diocesan Delegates that the Council had been negotiating for some time and signed a letter of intent to sell the Diocesan Center’s administrative building and development rights of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral and the cathedral’s plaza to a developer who would erect a, more or less, 33-floor, multi-use commercial and residential tower in place of the Diocesan Center. The letter of intent is dated December 18, 2017.
Diocesan Delegates, who represent the parishes, were blindsided. The planned sale was not included on the Assembly Agenda. Delegates were not informed about this matter before the Diocesan Council raised it on the floor of the Diocesan Assembly. No written information about the terms of the negotiated deal was given to delegates.
While the Diocesan Assembly gave a vote of confidence to the proposed transaction, the value of such a gesture is limited by the complete lack of opportunity given to delegates to review relevant materials and formulate an informed opinion about the NYC market, any alternative options to use or monetize development rights, whether the proposed transaction represented a viable offer for property that had been appraised at $95 million one year earlier, and the impact of the sale on Diocesan operations, parishioners, and reputation.
Following the surprise announcement of the intended sale, many members of the community, including clergy, church members, former Diocesan Council members, National Ecclesiastical Assembly Delegates, benefactors and others, have raised significant questions and concerns.