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