The Church in the Czech Republic is getting into the real estate market, with plans to own and rent out 1,000 apartments in Prague by 2030.
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The Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has been receiving funds in restitution for properties that were seized by communist forces for years, but these payments are scheduled to end in 2030. Now, in a bid to become self-sustaining, the Archdiocese of Prague has announced the intention to sell an iconic bell tower and begin acquiring apartments, which it will rent out.
According to Expats, the goal of the archdiocese is to own and rent out about 1,000 apartments by 2025, an endeavor that would require an estimated 3 billion Czech crowns (~$130 million). To help fund these acquisitions, the historic Gothic bell tower, Jindřišská věž, will be put up for sale.
The Jindřišská věž (Henry’s Tower) is a 15th-century structure that originated as the bell tower of the Church of St. Henry and St. Kunhuta. It is the tallest free-standing tower in the city and has survived several wartime invasions over the centuries. Today, it houses a restaurant and whisky shop, as well as an observation deck, which was installed in 2001.
The tower is expected to go on sale for around 75 million crowns, but it could earn much more than this, as it has attracted the interest of many prospective buyers. Expats notes that the local Prague government was surprised by the plans to sell the tower. Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said he would like to make sure that the property does not “fall into the wrong hands,” even suggesting that the city might be interested in buying the historic tower.
Another property that the Archdiocese of Prague is considering selling is the Clara Futura Hotel, in the Dolní Břežany chateau, a property that has been owned by the Church for about three centuries. In 2018, the archdiocese finished a project to renovate the Clara Futura into a 5-star hotel, a venture that cost nearly a quarter of a billion crowns.
The hotel, however, has been costing the Church more to own and operate than it has been earning. Now the archdiocese is weighing its options and considering all that could be done with the proceeds from its sale. It is estimated that the hotel could bring in enough to fund two different schools in Prague.
Christnet reports the archdiocese has already acquired 300 apartments, as well as a restaurant in the vicinity. They are also in negotiations to buy a building that would add another 100 apartments to their listings by 2025.
It is estimated that the archdiocese will need to earn about half a billion crowns annually to cover its expenses. It is unclear how much of this 500 million crowns would be earned by renting apartments, but the archdiocese has several other sources of income, including 140,000 hectares of woodland.