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Helmut Schmidt, Published June 14 2013

Muench Seminary to sell to buyer with Oak Grove ties

FARGO – A local investment group has made an offer on Cardinal Muench Seminary on the city’s far north side, the Fargo Catholic Diocese said Friday.

“The Diocese of Fargo has accepted an offer from Comstock Services, LLC, of Fargo for the purchase of the former Cardinal Muench Seminary and surrounding property,” Scott Hoselton, the diocese’s finance officer said in a statement.

“The closing date should be sometime on or before July 31. Future uses for the property are not yet known,” Hoselton said.

The purchase price for the property at 100 35th Ave. N. was not disclosed.

Fargo’s city assessor’s office appraised the land at $1,739,000 for 2013, and the buildings and other improvements at $1 million.

Funds from the sale will go to the Catholic Development Foundation for endowments for seminarian and clergy education needs, Hoselton said.

“This respects the intent of the many donors who supported Cardinal Muench Seminary through the years,” Hoselton said.

Comstock Services is represented in the sale by Kjos Investments.

Owner Monte Kjos said there are no concrete plans for the 87-acre site and the nearly 82,000 square feet of the seminary complex.

“It was just bought on the spur of the moment. We don’t own it yet,” Kjos said, cautioning that nothing is finalized until the closing.

“In the meantime, I’m sure we’ll try to think of something that will be good for the neighborhood and for ourselves,” Kjos said.

Both Comstock Services and Kjos have ties with Fargo’s Oak Grove Lutheran School.

Oak Grove Lutheran School acquired its elementary school, which is in the former Sullivan Middle School building at 2720 32nd Ave. S., from Comstock Services and Monty Kjos in 2005.

That elementary school is expanding this summer, also with the help of Comstock Services.

Oak Grove President Mike Slette said that it was a generous lead gift from Comstock Services that will make it possible to sign a contract for deed this summer for a neighboring building at 2710 32nd Ave. S.

Former Fargo Bishop Samuel J. Aquila announced that the diocese was putting the seminary on the market in 2010.

The seminary building was opened in the fall of 1966. It included both a high school seminary program that had started in another location in 1962 and a new college seminary, according to a history on the website cardinalmuench.org.

Because of declining enrollment in the high school program, it was moved back to Shanley High School in the 1990s, the website said.

The last graduating class of two seminarians was held in May 2011.

Since then, the seminary was temporarily used until the end of 2011 as a home for Holy Spirit Elementary School and Holy Spirit’s parish offices, which were damaged after heavy rains in July 2011 led to extensive sanitary sewer backup in the building.

The seminary was named after Aloisius Cardinal Muench, who was the third bishop of the Diocese of Fargo, serving from 1935 to 1959.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583