A church congregation at the former site of the Fox Savoy Theater at 1515 Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights claims they’re being cheated out of a space they were promised by the developer of the site, DNAinfo reported.
The group, the Charity Baptist Church, bought the building in 1969, according to public records. The group sold the property in 2012 for $575,000, as we reported at the time, a low price given the size of the building. A contract with the developer, Realty Within Reach, promised the group 5,000 square feet of ground-floor space in the building as well as an additional 2,000 square feet in the building’s basement.
However, according to DNA, the church group is accusing the developer of relegating their space to the basement, not the ground floor as was promised — and indeed, a glance at the Building Department’s Schedule A shows the church sanctuary and fellowship hall in the cellar. Back in 2013, the Schedule A showed a synagogue and pastor’s study on the first floor, reports at the time reveal.
The group will sue if the developer does not honor the deal, the church’s bishop told DNA.
The original theater was built for movie mogul William Fox, of 20th Century Fox fame, in 1926, by Thomas Lamb, one of the foremost theater and movie palace architects of the early 20th century. The theater had 2,750 seats, and ran high quality vaudeville shows on its stage until movies replaced stage shows a few years later. The theater was one of Crown Height’s three large movie theaters until it closed in 1964.
The theater was demolished in 2014 after its 2012 sale. The under-construction building, which will stand 10 stories and have 114 apartments, was designed by Issac & Stern Architects.
The original deal was one of the first of many dozens in Brooklyn in recent years where, thanks to rising property prices in the borough, a group such as a library, school or church sells to a developer but retains space in the new development. Notable examples include Hudson’s development for the Brooklyn Heights library and St. Stephen and St. Martin Episcopal Church in Bed Stuy, whose pre-Civil War Carpenter Gothic building at 809 Jefferson Avenue was demolished in 2015.
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