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Deal Could Reopen Historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church In Phoenix

It’s a deal some Catholics never expected to see while others never lost faith. On Wednesday, Phoenix council members are scheduled to vote on a plan that would reopen a church steeped in history.

Built in the 1950s, the historic Sacred Heart Church has not been recognized as a consecrated church by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix for many years. In the 1980s the city used eminent domain for airport expansion to take control of about 35 acres at the northeast corner of 16th Street and Buckeye Road.

Homes were bulldozed, but residents, mostly Mexican-Americans, fought to save Sacred Heart and for 30 years the city has opened the doors on Christmas Day for the faithful to celebrate mass.

Now, a deal is in the works for the Diocese to operate the building as a functional church year-round. The 50-year lease calls for the Church to pay $10 per year in rent, plus taxes and cover all rehabilitation and maintenance costs.

The building could only be used as a consecrated Catholic Church, shrine or other sacred building, according to the laws of the Roman Catholic Church.

The agreement also calls for Sacred Heart Parish and the Diocese of Phoenix to participate in a Historic Golden Gate neighborhood group consisting of the Braun Sacred Heart Center and Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC) to ‘foster communication and cooperation’ to 'ensure all development on the site allows the highest and best use'.

CPLC recently signed a long-term lease with Phoenix for about 32 acres surrounding the historic Sacred Heart Church to develop a mixed-use project to focus on employment-generating opportunities.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.