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The Carpenter Gothic church at 809 Jefferson Avenue, one of Bed Stuy’s oldest structures, is now a mere shell. Demolition to make way for apartments and a new church started in January.

From the street, it appears the building has been hollowed out. The historic stained glass windows and other features have been removed. The church was standing in 1854, old maps show, and may even date from the 1840s, as we have said.

The photo above was taken last week. All the others were taken yesterday. Click through to see more.

809 Jefferson Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP (more…)

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Work has begun on the 10-story apartment building that will rise on the site of the former Fox Savoy Theater at 1515 Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights. Earth movers began excavating at Bedford and Lincoln last week, digging out the basement for the new building and pulling out the last remaining pieces of the old theater’s foundation.

The Thomas Lamb-designed movie palace was originally built in 1926 for motion picture magnate William Fox of 20th Century Fox, and it featured an ornate neo-Classical facade made of white terra cotta. The grand old building was torn down last fall, after its most recent owners, a church, sold it to a developer for a low-seeming $575,000, as readers will recall.  (more…)

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A mutual friend forwarded these photos, taken by a neighbor about two months ago, of the inside of the Carpenter Gothic church at 809 Jefferson Avenue. The photographer commented:

Friends of mine belong to this church and tell me that they struggled with the situation for a very long time but ultimately decided they couldn’t afford to save a very deteriorated structure. It is very sad, indeed. I don’t know who could have saved this building. To anyone in the neighborhood, this is not a surprise. We will always wonder what could have been done to save it, and let this inspire us to prevent further loss of these old gems.

Click through to see the stained-glass windows in the balcony over the entrance.

809 Jefferson Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn is fairly far along with its conversion of a two-story church and community building into 84 apartments at 200 Nassau Street in Downtown Brooklyn, despite a penalty and DOB violation for failure to correct hazardous conditions related to crane and digging work, according to DOB files. The building appears to be up to about five stories already; plans call for four stories, plus a penthouse, with parking for 31 cars and 42 bicycles, according to an alteration permit filed in 2013. (A partial permit was issued in September 2014.)

The architect is Nataliya Donskoy of ND Architecture & Design, as we’ve reported before. The cost is estimated to be $1,250,000, according to the alteration permit. The property is held by the church’s real estate trust, Rocklyn Ecclesiastical Corp. Click through to see the rendering, which appears to show at least six stories.

Rendering for Planned Church Conversion on Nassau Street in Downtown Brooklyn [Brownstoner] GMAP

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The developer who paid $2,980,000 for a Bushwick church and related properties last week plans to include affordable housing and a large amount of space for the church in the new building. A representative from Manatus Development Group told us the development will be rentals, with 80 percent market rate and 20 percent affordable units.

The church will get 22,000 square feet of space on the first two floors, and Manatus will pay the church’s operating expenses. The addresses are 112-116 Suydam Street, 118-120 Suydam and 605, 609 and 611 Hart Street.

Bushwick Church Sells off Its Properties for $2.98 Million [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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It looks like another Brooklyn church is likely to become apartments. Calvary Spanish Pentecostal Church, aka Calvary Assembly of God, has sold seven properties on Suydam and Hart Streets to an LLC with a Madison Avenue address for $2,980,000.

The lots include the church’s main building and a neighboring frame house at 112-116 Suydam Street, as well as a parking lot made of five adjacent lots at 118-120 Suydam and 605, 609 and 611 Hart Street, according to a deed filed yesterday. The church and frame house alone have a buildable square footage of 17,314 on a 75 foot by 95 foot square lot.

The whole parcel is a sizable piece of land in the middle of Bushwick, about a block from the Central Avenue M train stop. GMAP

Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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Hundreds of Brooklyn religious leaders attended a recent meeting sponsored by Borough President Eric Adams about how faith-based organizations can earn money and develop their properties by selling air and land rights to developers, according to a story in DNAinfo. It’s an idea that resonated with many of the borough’s religious leaders as they face declining congregations, fundraising challenges and budgetary pressures while working to expand social services to meet the needs of those left behind in the recession.

“You are land-rich but cash-poor. The largest amount of housing potential in Brooklyn lies with you,” Pastor Gilford Monrose, director of the Borough President’s faith-based initiatives, told attendees.

Since many churches own historic buildings and have parking lots and other properties, developers are often interested in the properties. Deacon Dennis Mathis of Glover Memorial Baptist Church at 2134 Dean Street in Crown Heights (pictured above) said he wants to develop affordable housing on a church-owned parking lot and use the proceeds to expand its social services. “Any profit made from the deal will go toward expanding our soup kitchen and food pantry and might allow us to add after-school programs for youth,” he told DNAinfo. Developers have offered between $200,000 and $300,000 for the lot, he said.

A reverend at another Crown Heights church, Brooklyn Christian Center Church at 1061 Atlantic Avenue, said the church has a development plan in the works and came to the conference to learn how how to keep control of the property. Also discussed at the conference was how churches can work with city agencies to develop affordable housing.

Throughout the borough, churches have been demolished for new buildings and in some cases converted to condos. At least a dozen such projects are in the works now.

Adams has previously said he believes developing church property can help increase affordable housing in the borough. Do you agree?

Dozens of Brooklyn Churches Looking to Sell Their Land [DNA]
Church Conversion Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

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The historic Fox Savoy Theater has been reduced to rubble at Lincoln Place and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights. Demolition began last winter and moved along pretty slowly, because workers took the building down by hand and salvaged pieces of its ornate facade. The 1926 Neo-Classical structure was originally built as a movie palace for mogul William Fox (of 20th Century Fox), but in recent years a church occupied the grand white terra cotta building.

Charity Baptist Church sold the Thomas Lamb-designed building at 1515 Bedford Avenue for the low seeming price of $575,000 in 2012, as we reported. A 10-story, 114-unit apartment building designed by Issac & Stern will rise in its place at 1515 Bedford Avenue. The development will have 60 subterranean parking spots, ground-floor space for a synagogue and a roof deck, as previously reported. The developer is Realty Within Reach.

Click through for a few more photos of the demolition.

1515 Bedford Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 1515 Bedford Avenue [Brownstoner]

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In March, WyckoffHeights.org reported big changes are coming to the corner of Knickerbocker and Willoughby, right across from Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. The two-story church at 260 Knickerbocker Avenue is slated to be converted to an 11-story apartment building designed by Scarano protege and now-prolific Williamsburg architect Nataliya Donskoy, which would make it the tallest building on the park.

We were curious about the progress, and figured it would be well along by now. But in fact, the plans were disapproved this month and there is no sign of construction at the church, not even a rendering or, of course, any kind of permit. (more…)

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Church conversions are nothing new, but lately we’ve been seeing designs that marry the old structure to what looks like a new office-style building. Here’s the latest example, an old Romanesque Revival church most recently used as a school at 991 Eastern Parkway, where developer Brookland Capital appears to be planning a residential conversion. The company bought the building in May for $2,100,000, and has yet to file any permits.

You may recall the developer is planning a similar project in Bushwick. The architect on both is Isaac & Stern. The Wall Street Journal recently noted a similar plan to build a condo tower cantilevered over a church in Manhattan. “Churches are on the radar” of developers, the story quoted a Halstead exec as saying, because of the rising costs of land.

In this design, the old church building is simplified and flattened so it looks like a facade on a stage set or a trompe l’ oeil church. What do you think of it? Click through to the jump to see how the building looks today.

Rendering by Isaac & Stern GMAP

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When Christ Church on Clinton Street in Cobble Hill was struck by lightning in July 2012 causing a scaffolding to collapse on and kill a 61-year-old passerby, the church had been fighting for years with its insurance company for additional funds to fix the deteriorating structure in the wake of another lightning strike in 2000 and a small earthquake in 2009. The Wall Street Journal has recently unearthed internal church meeting minutes and correspondence with its insurance company which sheds more light onto who was aware of structural problems and when problems were flagged. Documents obtained by The Journal show that church officials were indeed aware of the problems and had been trying to get money from its insurance company for years when last year’s tragic accident happened. In a 2009 meeting with engineers, the structure was referred to as “very hazardous.” “There is continuous deterioration in the church and the tower,” say the minutes. “This has gone on too long. Plans must be put in place.” In a 2009 letter to its insurance company, the church pointed out severe problems in the tower’s northwest pinnacle column it attributed to the 2000 lightning incident. In 2009, the Church Insurance Agency Corp. agreed to revisit its $120,000 payout from 2000 (the church had sought as much as $800,000) but ultimately came to the conclusion that the church’s poor condition was due to neglect not lightning damage and refused to pay out any more money. The problems were not fixed. In the days following the accident last year, the Department of Buildings issued violations to the church relating to scaffolding and sidewalk sheds; there had been no sidewalk shed in place where the pedestrian was killed.
Christ Church Considered ‘Hazardous’ Before a Death [WSJ]
Photo from the Brooklyn Bugle


A reader sent along this photo and an update at the Carlton Mews Church conversion, at 232 Adelphi Street. At this stage of the game, the building has a new roof and is getting a second level, which you can see through the stained glass window. The Department of Buildings issued permits for a residential conversion this May. There will be 12 units, and our tipster says they’ll be condos. RSVP Architecture Studio is in charge of the design. This structure was in bad, bad shape a few years ago. Reinforcement work began in 2011, then an LPC application for facade changes popped up this year. The church has a different owner than the townhouse project going up on Carlton Avenue. The other day, construction workers started bricking up the facades there.
Carlton Mews Church Heads to Landmarks [Brownstoner]
Roof Support for Carlton Mews Church [Brownstoner]
Carlton Mews Church to be Saved From Danger of Collapse [Brownstoner] GMAP