From Churches to Condos

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Detailed stain glass in an historic building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Detailed stain glass in an historic building in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

As congregations shrink or disappear, some churches are becoming condos. DNAinfo has mapped historic churches that have been converted into condos in brownstone Brooklyn, and Janet Upadhye talks about what the trend says about the future and past of the borough.

Check out DNAinfo's map:


Ms. Janet Upadhye

Comments [21]

Ann-Isabel Friedman from New York, NY

One caller to the show cited residential conversion of a Harlem church near Fifth Avenue and 126th; the producer thought this must be St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, a NYC landmark; however, St. Andrew's is alive and well as a church, and having completed major exterior slate roof restoration, is actively fundraising to launch repair of its areaway "moat" - masonry light wells and exits, and an accessibility project. The project the caller cited is the former Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, historic but not a designated landmark, rescued from demolition and currently being converted not to condos, but to noncommercial gallery/community & residence by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, a successful adaptive reuse.

Ann Friedman, Director, Sacred Sites Program, NY Landmarks Conservancy

Jun. 30 2014 06:07 PM
jayfromupstate from not 4k/month to live in brooklyn:)

Oh boo hoo, the landscape has changed a bunch of times since the Europeans got to Brooklyn. All the bemoaners paying 4k/monht in rent should stop using their indoor plumbing and put back in the coal stoves if they love preservation so much.

Jun. 26 2014 02:53 PM
joanne from NY^C

Same with the small business owner, your property is worth more then your business, how can you say no to the millions of dollars offered for your property space. A shame to lose a church, though. It spells community, neighborhood, care, concern....a church, in spite of their dwindling congregations, speaks volumes. What is the point in building all these residential condos when there is no where to shop, eat, worship as the enormous increase in rents are driving business away .... or they too have been converted to condos!?
Crazy, greedy capitalists and developers, the sneaky deals conducted while Bloomberg was Mayor are continuing to plague us.

Jun. 25 2014 04:39 PM
Capt_Spaulding from UWS

Does the religious group pay capital gains when this property is sold?

Jun. 25 2014 09:54 AM

St. John's AME in Jersey City, NJ

Jun. 24 2014 03:42 PM
JB from Clinton Hill/ BedStuy

St. Luke's Academy on Washington Ave in Clinton Hill is in the Parish Hall of one of these churches mentioned. It is a fabulous, nurturing and AFFORDABLE preschool that's been serving this community for 25 years. The Parish Hall and gym have also been host to all sorts of community groups and activities. It is a true disservice to turn this into condos. There is already a shortage of childcare in this area, and two luxury rental apartments going up next door. This beautiful block in historic Brownstone Brooklyn, and the neighborhood as a whole, do not need more expensive apartments built and less schools and daycare!

Jun. 24 2014 01:32 PM
Local parent from Clinton hill

Save St Luke's school!!!!!!! It is hard enough to find day care options in the neighborhood as they are at full capacity. And they teachers, curriculum, facility are truly wonderful.

Jun. 24 2014 01:25 PM
JF from Fort Greene

Sadly, people are not taking into account the things that are often housed in these churches and their joining buildings. St. Luke's Church on Washington Avenue is one such church being sold, which this program discussed. The back building houses a wonderful preschool that has been a part of the community for decades. Most importantly, it is one of the last remaining affordable childcare options in the neighborhood, which is definitely a necessity for many families as the area becomes ever more expensive. The parents and neighborhood organizations are trying to stop the sell of this back building, which also houses a large gym with theater and a basement basketball court. This historical building could serve as an important community space for so many, along with the preschool. If the school closes, so many families are locked out of childcare and all the wonderful staff lose their jobs.

Jun. 24 2014 12:42 PM
Ron Daniel from Forest Hills, NY

Finally, this real estate is being returned to the property tax rolls vs. receiving full exemptions as religious institutions. These additional property tax revenues can only help NYC. The more of these that return to paying taxes the better.

Jun. 24 2014 12:09 PM
Marcos from the Bronx

Please follow up:

What are the economics here?

Are powerful developers pressuring out (with "carrot or stick") congregations that would otherwise be viable?

Do the denominations such as the Episcopal Church have resources that could save these congregations or at least save the buildings as community centers or houses of worship for other congregations?

Jun. 24 2014 12:07 PM
Jim from Queens

I taught at MS 113 in the neighborhood for years and watched many of these conversions as they took place (Cumberland & Adelphi especially). I don't necessarily have an aversion to churches being converted to living space as long as 1. it only happens in congregations that are defunct and 2. there is some requirement within the deal to preserve the architectural integrity of the building so that it remains in character with the neighborhood. My bigger, much bigger concern is the fact that no teacher I worked with could afford any of these units with sale prices from !.7 million and rents from $4000/mo. Where will non-millionaires live in this city?! Where do teachers, garbage men, cops, etc live? The answer is not in the city! The we have complaints about teachers and cops that are out of touch with the residents they serve, because they can't afford to live in the area they serve!

Jun. 24 2014 11:58 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Gentrifiers bemoaning gentrification. Serious denial.

Jun. 24 2014 11:58 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Churches, Hospitals, gas stations - libraries and schools are next.

Jun. 24 2014 11:56 AM
tom from Astoria

It's better that an 1888 structure is preserved, but what does this say about our city? Is the life-blood of our city condo developers and high rent condo owners, no longer a simple congregation that pooled their meager funds to erect a noble place of worship? Hyper capitalism has taken root and now is choking out everything else.

Jun. 24 2014 11:56 AM
Willie from Bushwick

Bushwick and Jefferson st.
... Tall spire- Can be seen from all over neighborhood.

Jun. 24 2014 11:53 AM
Sara from Bushwick

The bigger question, "Is there a former neighborhood in your neighborhood that's now luxury condos?"

Jun. 24 2014 11:52 AM
John A

Please, no triumphalism (comments *). Churches exist to help focus the fight against immorality in society, and in case you haven't noticed the church build-down does correspond with significant indicators of increased amorality in American society right now. Wall street and Washington to start...
(* Comments in pretty much any WNYC story on religion for the past decade)

Jun. 24 2014 11:49 AM
fuva from harlemworld

I know one thing: Any condo in an old church is a fly azz condo.

Jun. 24 2014 11:48 AM
what? union sq cafe closing?

paying millions to the dozens of boys it abused wasn't exactly kind to the Catholics' pocketbook. A million here, a million there, starts to add up.

At least Chinese millionaires pay tax for their real estate.

god bless america.

Jun. 24 2014 10:33 AM
oscar from ny

..replacement of stuatues with other statues..
PS:this mayor in case ppl of NY don't know works directly with the banks of NY and its open season for the vampires who inhabit this city

Jun. 24 2014 09:43 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Congregations are moving north, where parishes are very large, and the Archdiocese has to save money. Churches are our most beautiful buildings.

Jun. 24 2014 07:54 AM

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