Having fallen on hard times, the Legionaries of Christ is looking to sell its 97-acre New Castle property.
According to spokesman Jim Fair, a sale is part of a broader plan to sell property and bring down debt. The Roman Catholic order is mired in financial difficulty that stems from a sex abuse scandal involving its founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado. In 2010, according to multiple media outlets at the time, the Vatican began a reform program for it.
Other factors that have hurt the organization include the bad economy and a past strategy that involved expansion that was too quick, Fair explained. He believes that the New Castle property may have been sold even without the scandal.
The order has been soliciting requests for proposals for the site, which is located at 773 Armonk Rd. (Mount Kisco postal zone), and has set up a website to give a primer, called 773armonkroad.com. The property has been for sale since earlier this year, according to Fair.
Fair declined to say who has expressed interest or say how soon a deal could be reached. However, they want the property to be sold for a profit, and Fair said, to someone who will develop it in a way that is "an asset to the community."
There is no asking price for the property, according to Fair.
The order is also open to the idea of a long-term leasing of the site, while retaining ownership.
The land, which includes a 45,615 square foot manor estate house, is currently used for conferences and as a retreat center, as part of a complex named Our Lady of Mount Kisco.
The Legionaries had unsuccessfully proposed several different uses since acquiring the property in 1994. According to a Journal News story about the sale attempt, they included a large seminary, a lay women's center and another seminary proposal, with the last one having been withdrawn in 2008. The property, with the manor house dating back to 1890 as a private residence, had several prominent owners, according to the paper, including the Unification Church.
The site is zoned for two-acre residential and is located in the Bedford Central School District. Permitted uses range, including the current religious use, private schooling, museums, libraries, plant nurseries and art galleries, according to the order. The site depends on septic and well water.
The order has not approached the town about the matter, according to New Castle Director of Planning David Brito.