Archdiocese of New York may sell 12 churches after deeming them no longer sacred

Posted On Thu, July 27, 2017 By

Posted On Thu, July 27, 2017 By In real estate trends

All Saints Church in Harlem, via NYC & Company

The Archdiocese of New York announced that 12 Catholic churches in Manhattan and The Bronx may be sold after declaring them no longer sacred sites for worship. As DNAinfo reported, the Catholic church released a list of properties, including some that had been shuttered since around 2015 when the church restructured many of its parishes by merging many together. After the diocese quietly posted the decrees over the July Fourth holiday weekend, many parishioners were angry that they had less time to appeal. Now some fear the churches will be converted luxury housing building, which has happened many times in the past few years due to the financial pressure on churches.

Developers have shown increasing interest in church sites and the properties on the diocese list will most likely bring in a lot of money. One building on the list, Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz in Little Italy, already secured a buyer for $7 million. Plus, a townhouse operated by the Church of St. Gregory on 143 West 87th Street, just sold for $4.31 million. No other deals are pending for the other churches listed, according to Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese.

“Rather than continue to support an unused worship space, the parishes have asked that they be ‘deconsecrated’ so that the parish might consider what to do with the property,” Zwilling told DNAinfo in an email. “Some may use it for other purposes, some may lease it, some may sell it.”

One parishioner of the now-shuttered Church of Nativity in the East Village, Mercedes Sanchez, fought to keep her church open by appealing its closure. She suggested the rectory building at 44 Second Avenue be converted into a shrine or chapel in honor of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper, or a center for homeless New Yorkers to take showers and pick up mail. After two years of fighting, her proposal was denied.

“When you see the church closed and all of the condos going up in the neighborhood it’s a little overwhelming. … And the Archdiocese is playing a role in the lack of affordable housing,” Sanchez said.

One of the buildings that have been deconsecrated, Church of All Saints at East 129th Street in Harlem, has been landmarked. Others did not acquire historic status despite trying, including the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary at 211 East 83rd Street on the Upper East Side, which was a center for the Catholic deaf community.

[Via DNAinfo]

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