CUMBERLAND, R.I. — After sitting vacant for nearly five years, a shuttered church is expected to be resurrected as affordable housing.
One Neighborhood Builders, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, completed its $625,000 purchase of the historic St. Patrick Church on Broad Street in Cumberland this week from a subsidiary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. The nonprofit said it plans to preserve the property and convert it into the “Steeple & Stone” development, which will include 44 affordable apartments.
The Steeple & Stone development and will include 27 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and five three-bedroom units. Several of these units will be reserved for older adults, with supportive services provided on site. When completed, the apartments will be available for households earning up to 60 percent of the area median income, which is about $53,000 annually for a family of four.
The developer plans to raze the neighboring rectory building and construct a new building to house 14 of the 44 units. Nine townhouses will be constructed along Broad Street, and 21 of the units will be located inside the church.
One Neighborhood Builders is expected to break ground sometime in 2024, but a timeline for the project’s completion is unclear.
Jennifer Hawkins, the president and CEO of One Neighborhood Builders, said the organization plans to submit applications to Rhode Island Housing and other partners “in the near future” to secure the necessary capital for construction, which includes low-income housing tax credits.
“If this project is in the next round of Rhode Island Housing funding, One Neighborhood Builders can break ground as early as fall 2024, but the specific date and timeline will be determined by funding,” said spokesman Mike Raia.
First established in 1861, St. Patrick Church closed in 2018 due to decreasing parishioners. The church’s population declined from approximately 1,450 families in 2007 to about 700 in 2017, according to The Providence Journal.
The church’s building also suffered from some structural deficiencies, according to a diocese press release at the time. Prior to the closing of the church, St. Patrick had shifted worship to St. Aidan because of deterioration and leakage in the bell tower and a damaged heating system. At the time of its closing, the diocese said it estimated that repairs would cost about $1 million.
The church building was valued at $2.7 million in 2022, according to town records.
Prior to the sale, the remains of the Rev. Hugh O’Reilly, the parish’s third pastor who died in 1872, were exhumed and relocated by the church to Mt. Cavalry Cemetery. For years, it was believed that O’Reilly’s remains were directly behind a monument on the property that bears his name.