Laguna Beach closes escrow on acquisition of St. Catherine of Siena school site
Laguna Beach has closed escrow for its acquisition of the St. Catherine of Siena school site from the Diocese of Orange.
City Manager Shohreh Dupuis made the announcement via a news release on Wednesday. The city agreed to pay a purchase price of $23 million for the 6.5-acre property located at 30516 Coast Highway.
“The acquisition of St. Catherine’s school is a unique and rare opportunity for our community, given that the city of Laguna Beach is largely built out,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said in a statement. “I want to thank the Diocese of Orange for working with us over the past two years and allowing this property to remain as a community-serving facility.
“This property will be of tremendous benefit to residents, as we now have the space to accommodate added programs and services. We look forward to hearing ideas from our community on the possible uses for this location. With the acquisition of this property, the time is right for the city to develop a master plan for all city-owned properties, and we will work to create a vision for community-serving facilities that everyone can enjoy.”
The Diocese approached the city about its interest in acquiring the property in 2021. The school site includes four buildings that account for more than 39,000 square feet of indoor space. It also has basketball courts, an athletic field, playground equipment and picnic areas.
The St. Catherine of Siena Parish School opened in 1957, and the property underwent reconstruction in 2008. The school closed in 2020 with enrollment on the decline. Apart from the school site, St. Catherine of Siena Parish was not part of the sale and remains open.
“The Diocese of Orange thanks the Laguna Beach community for its decades of support for St. Catherine of Siena Parish School and looks forward to seeing a new community-based use for the property,” Bradley Zint, a spokesperson for the Diocese, said.
Interim uses for the property are scheduled to be discussed at the Laguna Beach City Council meeting on Jan. 24. Council members have also called for a master plan to determine future long-term uses. A couple of possibilities that have been mentioned include a community pool and a cultural arts center.
“It gives some opportunity for some more community amenities,” Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf said of the property acquisition. “I’m really looking forward to the discussion with the community about what we can do.”
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