NYC Church Sells Church to Save 12-Person Church

This flock is already missing a shepherd, and now they are losing their pasture too.

A small but passionate group of Upper West Side churchgoers were forced to sell their church to save the tiny community.

West-Park Presbyterian Church — which notably has no pastor and only has 12 parishioners — will give its landmarked, 140-year-old church at 165 West 86th St. to a developer to avoid a $50 million restoration bill. The dozen parishioners were on the hook to repair the crumbling facade and structure of their place of worship, choosing instead to have a company tear it down and build them a new place of worship in its place, along with affordable housing the economic observer.

“It has absolutely no resources left to maintain the building and as it is a designated landmark and given the state it is in it is unclear if we would just try to sell the building, if we could even find a buyer. ” Roger Leaf, chair of the church’s administrative commission, told the publication. “But if we were able to sell the building and not get real money for it … the likely outcome – the inevitable outcome – would be that the congregation would have to disband.”

The New York City Presbytery — responsible for all Presbyterian churches in NYC — unanimously approved the church’s plan this week. The presbytery recently loaned the congregation money to help address the particularly urgent problem of a collapsing outer wall. Other slightly less severe structural decay, including brick detaching from rafters and crumbling sandstone, have not been addressed in years. (For two decades, protective scaffolding has encased the building.)

Now that its governing board has approved the sale, community members have filed a motion to appeal the Landmark Preservation Commission in 2010. With the Grade II Listed designation, developer Alchemy Properties — with whom parishioners have a deal of sale and purchase — can’t demolish the church, a contingency of the deal.

“Given our tremendous financial challenges to meet the safety and maintenance requirements of the church building, the only viable choice the community has in support of West-Park’s ongoing mission is to sell the property and apply to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for demolition continue existing buildings for financial reasons,” a spokesman for West-Park Presbyterian Church told The Post. “This plan ensures a new spiritual home of worship and community space that will help West-Park continue to be a resource for our neighborhood and other New Yorkers.”

Should the LPC uphold the appeal, Alchemy will demolish the structure and construct a residential tower and 10,000-square-foot prayer room in its place. The church would also receive $8.8 million from the developer to set up the new congregation.

“If we were able to [just] sell the building and not get real money for it, then the congregation, which is dwindling in numbers and no longer has a pastor, would no longer have a place of worship,” Blatt explained to the Observer, the logic that led them to the current plan.

Alchemy Properties declined The Post’s request for comment. NYC Church Sells Church to Save 12-Person Church


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