CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Residents of the Riverview Terrace Apartments, on Kanawha Boulevard East in Charleston, were surprised to hear that the building's owner wants to turn the apartments in the independent senior living facility into condominiums.
"It was out of the blue," said Julia Neenan, who has lived at Riverview Terrace for four years with her husband, Joe.
"It gave us something to think about that we didn't really need at Christmas," Jackie Taylor, a Riverview Terrace resident for six years, said this week.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston bought the senior living facility in 1993 for $1.23 million. Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral in Charleston has overseen its operations since then.
Sacred Heart Monsignor Edward Sadie said the church saw the purchase of the building as a way to encourage its aging parishioners to stay in Charleston, rather than moving to more Southern states.
While he has no intention of leaving Sacred Heart anytime soon, Sadie said, he wants some of the church's business to be settled should something happen. The church has several other projects it is implementing, including the remodeling of its grade school.
"I don't want to impose all this on my successor," Sadie said. "I just want to be prepared for the future, so if I drop dead tomorrow, he won't have more on his plate than he can handle."
Money from the condo purchases will finance the addition to Sacred Heart's elementary school, as well as "other things I'm still dreaming about," Sadie said. He would not go into detail about future projects, saying, "That's between me and God."
Riverview Terrace residents received a letter notifying them of the changes on Dec. 19. The letter says that contracts signed by current residents will be honored.
Current tenants pay a refundable deposit when they move in, as well as a monthly maintenance fee. Those who wish to purchase their apartments can use their deposit toward the purchase price, Sadie said.
Residents have questions about the situation but can only get answers by scheduling individual meetings with parish attorney Ralph Hoyer, they said.
"I feel they should have respectfully talked to us as a group and then maybe given us the letter after they talked to us," Julia Neenan said.
Anne Lane, a resident of two years, wants more details on prices and operations before she decides if she will buy. She added, though, that she believes Sadie has residents' best interests at heart.
"I think that, really, Father Sadie is looking out for us," Lane said. "He's getting older, and I think that he is giving us an opportunity to become owners so that we can sort of plan our future. . . . I sort of feel like the church can't continue to be in the position that they're in."
Hoyer will begin meeting with tenants on Dec. 30. He would not divulge details of the condo costs or financing. Hoyer has arranged financing for those purchasing condos through City National Bank, according to the letter to residents.
"I would really like not to comment on it until I speak with the individual tenants first," Hoyer told the Gazette on Tuesday.