Tucson, AZ

Historic Tucson Church Converted into Apartments

Greyson F

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A final prayer at the church.Stefan Kunze/Unsplash

The Tucson Benedictine has long been a staple landmark here in the city. Whether you visited inside the former monastery, enjoyed walks around the landscaping, or simply drove by and marveled at the classic architecture, there simply wasn’t anything like it in the city. However, if you’ve driven past The Benedictine of late, you’ve probably noticed it isn’t at all what it once was. 

The Monastery officially closed here in Tucson in February of 2018 (with the final mass taking place on Saturday, January 21st of 2018). For nearly 100 years, the church opened itself up not only to worshipers, but it served as housing for migrants and asylum seekers who had nowhere else to go upon entering the United States. However, beginning this summer, things inside will look very, very different. 

If you haven’t driven past the massive construction taking shape, there is an entirely new apartment complex surrounding the monastery on all three sides, like a massive fortification. The apartments are planned to rent upwards of $2,000 each (there will be about 250 of the apartments). The first portion of the apartments will be available to the public beginning in August, while the second wave of apartments will open up early next year. 

All of the apartments that are available starting in August will be in the surrounding buildings (most of which won’t have any direct connection or view of the monastery. Once renovations to the once religious temple are finished there will be an additional 37 apartments offered within (the price point for these have not yet been released, but as it is technically part of the historic construction these apartments will likely rent for more than the $2,000 of the other apartments). 

The church will be converted into a fitness center, bicycle repair shop, pet service center, and the arched dome of the building will sit directly above a new restaurant. The restaurant to move in has not yet been selected, although this will likely happen shortly, so the construction can adjust to the needs of the restaurant when renovating the chapel. 

The project was approved by the Tucson City Council, so the large plot of land surrounding The Benedictine was not simply purchased and then renovated. The plans had to be approved by the city. The city wanted the building to be maintained and not knocked down, although other religious institutions did not have the available capital to invest in buying and renovating the building (at least none offered to do so). 

The Benedictine was founded in 1935 by a group of pioneer sisters who traveled West from Clyde, Missouri (they originally called Switzerland home). 

If you are interested in moving into the apartments, the full list of floor plans is not yet available for those found within the original building. However, as for the add-on annex buildings, these apartments will offer garage parking, a bicycle parking lot, a split-level gym, roof decks, an open mailroom with package lockers for added security, a game room, a fenced-in pool as well as a fenced-in dog run (and lawn, an electric vehicle charging station, community bar with kitchenette, plus a coffee bar with lounge seating. 

As for the 250 apartments soon to be available, these will have all-electric kitchens, custom cabinets, card-access entry, vinyl flooring, quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and some apartments will have patios. 

If you want to find out what the new owners of the apartment complex offered the city in return for approving the property, or if you have further questions about how the deal passed the city council, the best way to do so is to contact the city council 

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