, Salem, MA

December 21, 2013

Salem State University eyes move to temple


---- — SALEM — In a year or so, Salem State University could be holding classes in a temple on Lafayette Street.

The college announced that it has entered into a non-binding agreement with Salem Renewal, a Salem developer that has submitted a bid to purchase Temple Shalom, 287 Lafayette St.

Under the agreement, the college would lease the building from the developer.

“Our plans call for the possible relocation of academic programs to this site,” the college said in an email to neighbors. “Details about which programs would be relocated are currently under discussion and will be announced once they are determined. The university does not intend to offer housing at this location.”

The temple has had talks with several developers and appears to be settling on Salem Renewal, which has done a number of condominium projects in the city. Salem Renewal is operated by the Pabich family, owners of The Salem Inn.

Earlier this year, Temple Shalom, founded in 1898, announced it had put its building up for sale and was exploring a merger due to declining membership.

The brick temple, which is listed for $1.5 million through the Drumlin Group, has a main sanctuary that seats 500, two kitchens and a large function facility.

Thomas Cheatham, who heads the temple committee handling the sale, declined to comment on the Salem State announcement. David Pabich of Salem Renewal also did not comment.

In its notice to neighbors, Salem State said there are still a lot of details to work out. If the developer’s bid is accepted, the college said it would not relocate programs to the temple before next fall.

Under the tentative plan, the developer would renovate the temple building before leasing it, according to the Salem State email.

This is the latest in a series of recent expansion moves and tentative plans by Salem State, which is about to build a new residence hall on its central campus, has signed a non-binding agreement to take one floor of a downtown development for graduate or faculty housing, acquired the historic Salem Diner, and has expressed a “strong interest” in leasing space in downtown courthouses when they are developed.

Tom Dalton can be reached at