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The Archdiocese of New York is planning to move a significant number of its employees out of a building that has served as its headquarters for more than 50 years.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, announced that the archdiocese has identified a building near St. Patrick’s Cathedral where many of the archdiocese’s staff will be relocated sometime in 2025.
“For over 50 years, the Terence Cardinal Cooke Catholic Building, located at 1011 First Avenue, has served as the central offices of the archdiocese. In addition, St. John the Evangelist Church shares the building, as did Cathedral Girls High School prior to their move to a new location this past September,” Cardinal Dolan said in a letter to supporters Tuesday.
But for several years, he wrote, “it has become apparent” that 1011 First Avenue “no longer made sense as our home.”
The cost to maintain the physical structure, advances in technology which allow for more remote work, and a desire to be closer to the people we serve throughout the archdiocese, all led us to begin discussions on a possible move, in order to more effectively and efficiently utilize the resources of the archdiocese in service to our people.
The Terence Cardinal Cooke Building is a 20-floor office building at the corner of First Avenue and 55th Street in Manhattan’s Sutton Place neighborhood. The archbishop of New York has offices there, in addition to the Chancery, Catholic Charities, the Metropolitan Tribunal, the Department of Education, and other offices supporting the work of the local Church.
The cardinal said that “after broad consultation and careful research,” a new location has been found at 488 Madison Avenue, next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, that will house the central offices of the archdiocese.”
Using resources “more effectively”
Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph G. Zwilling declined to answer specific questions concerning financial considerations. “It is a way for us to use our resources, including our financial resources and property resources, more effectively and efficiently to serve our people,” he told Aleteia.
The location is one block north of the cathedral and the archbishop’s residence.
“As you may know, the main offices of a diocese are required to be in the See city, that is, the city where the diocesan cathedral is located,” Dolan wrote. “Not all offices, however, are required to be there, and many offices will move to other locations around the archdiocese, in most cases utilizing existing archdiocesan and parish property, allowing us to be good stewards of our resources.”
Dolan noted that 488 Madison Avenue was at one time the location of a Catholic Charities orphanage, as well as the former home of Cathedral College Seminary.
In fact, another building on Madison Avenue at one time served as the archdiocese chancery offices. In 1948, the archdiocese purchased some of the Villard Houses, built by a former railroad magnate, at 451 and 453 Madison Avenue, across Madison Avenue from the back of the cathedral, as well as nearby 29 East 50th St., to house various agencies. When it moved all its offices to 1011 First Avenue in 1973, when Cardinal Terence Cooke was archbishop, it continued to lease out the Villard Houses.
“Although the move to the new location is not planned until sometime in 2025, we will use this intervening time to identify and finalize which offices will move to 488 Madison Avenue, and what locations will be used for other offices,” the cardinal said, adding that there have been no decisions yet on what will happen with 1011 First Avenue.
The owners of the new location, 488 Madison Avenue Associates, LLC, describe the building as a “layered, white modernist” 23-story office tower built in 1949. It was designed for Look Magazine, and has been home to several publishing and communications firms, including Esquire Magazine, Institutional Investor, Euromoney Publications and Abbeville Press.