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El Portal among bidders to buy a former church site

The village government is one of several bidders for a vacant church property in El Portal.

By RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
El Portal is interested in buying the former Rader Memorial United Methodist Church site.

Village Manager Jason Walker said El Portal made a $2 million offer for the church site, 205 NE 87th St., but was rejected earlier this year.

Town officials aren’t sure what they’ll do with the site.

“We would have to find the use that is compatible with the neighborhood and that it makes financial sense,” Walker said.

The building has caught the attention of possible buyers. Last year, the Village Council shut down a proposal to turn the site into a charter school. MG3 Development Group wanted to buy and expand the building for use as a for-profit charter school

According to the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser’s website, the property is assessed at $2,730,084. The property owner is seeking $3 million.

The developer had planned to lease the property to Imagine Charter Schools.

Imagine, which started in 2003 and has more than 70 schools and 35,000 students nationwide, has five schools in Florida.

The former church once housed a private school and preschool.

In 2006, the property was sold to the Archdiocese of Miami, which planned to use the building as a residence for nuns.

But plans fell through and the church put the property on the market.

The charter school would have accommodated students from kindergarten through eighth grade. Since their original proposal, the developers had decided to reduce the student number to 600 and nixed plans to expand the building.

But that plan also faced opposition from residents fearing traffic issues.

Aside from El Portal, other parties are eyeing the property.

“There are others interested in the property,” said David Duckworth of Flagler Real Estate Services, who is representing the archdiocese in the sale.

Walker said the village may make another offer.

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