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Thread: West-Park Presbyterian Church - Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street

  1. #61
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    West Park Presbyterian Church Up for Sale After Being Declared a Landmark



    By Serena Solomon

    West Park Presbyterian Church, the Upper West Side house of worship at the center of a contentious dispute over its landmark status, is up for sale, church leaders tell DNAinfo.

    The 125-year-old church, on W. 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, was given historical protection on Jan. 12 by the Landmarks Preservation Commission against the will of the congregation, who had wanted to add apartments to their property to raise much-needed funds.

    The church's leader claims there has been little help for new funding ideas from the preservationists who campaigned for the landmark status, leaving no option but to sell the building unless the City Council intervenes.
    "Nobody has taken seriously the expense of restoring this building to functionality," said Rev. Robert Brashear, the senior pastor at the church.

    Brashear said it was the Presbytery of New York City's decision, not his, to sell the church, with a for sale sign going up about a month ago.
    Rev. J.C Austin, who has been working on the sale for the presbytery, said the building is on the market, but a sale must be approved by the congregation.

    "No 'asking price' has been set and the church is considering offers that come in regardless of their source," he told DNAinfo in an e-mail.
    The church has been financially paralyzed by the high upkeep costs for the 125-year-old building, Brashear said. The building is now closed due to water damage, leaving the congregation of 100 to meet in another church's basement.

    Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who was at the forefront of the landmarking campaign, said she believes there are still a few ways West Park could raise funds to protect the historic building.

    "We have to figure out how we meet all the community's needs and keep the building standing," said Brewer.

    She suggested allowing a school or business to operate inside the building when it was not required by the church's mission.

    However, Brashear said it would be devastating to see the building operate as a commercial business.

    "This is a place of community, of service, a gathering place, sharing, expression," he said, of the church that once had 800 members. "What happens if it becomes a bank?"

    The congregation is still holding out hope that the City Council might overrule the landmark status after a public hearing. The Presbytery has mobilized its congregation all over the city in a letter writing campaign.
    "It makes it difficult for them (the congregation) to keep a sense of hope when you are not really clear of what the future is going to bring," said Brashear.

    http://dnainfo.com/20100319/upper-we...lared-landmark

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/0...ide_church.php

  2. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    However, Brashear said it would be devastating to see the building operate as a commercial business.

    "This is a place of community, of service, a gathering place, sharing, expression," he said, of the church that once had 800 members. "What happens if it becomes a bank?"

    The congregation is still holding out hope that the City Council might overrule the landmark status after a public hearing. The Presbytery has mobilized its congregation all over the city in a letter writing campaign.
    "It makes it difficult for them (the congregation) to keep a sense of hope when you are not really clear of what the future is going to bring," said Brashear.
    I'm sorry, but Rev. Brashear sounds like a hypocrite. He wants to demolish his church, have Moinian or whoever build some crappy condos on the lot, and then worship in some low-ceilinged basement space -- all because he's running his church as a business.

    Now he's unwilling to allow a business or school to share space with the congregation because the church is a "place of community"? So is it a sacred space, or not? How can it be ok to tear down the church in order to help Moinian fatten his wallet, but preserving the building and allowing any sort of business -- obviously, the church would determine what business, so it could be a mom-and-pop flower shop owned by congregants -- to use some of the space during non-church hours is off-limits?

    It seems he really just carries a grudge against the LPC and wants to play the victim in whatever way he can.

  3. #63

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    Where did it say that Rev. Brashear wants to "worship in some low-ceilinged basement space?"

  4. #64

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    That's what often happens when a church sells its space to a developer and gets a compensatory room in the resulting residential building.

    In this case, we have the render of what Related proposed:



    It's unclear how much space the church would actually have -- is it the entire triangular tumor in front? Part of it? Not entirely clear, or relevant.

    What is clear, and relevant, though, is that the majority of the church's current space would be given to Related to build a "luxury" tower. I fail to see how real-estate development is any more holy a business than any other commercial enterprise. To suggest that allowing any business to use part of the current church structure would be sacrilege while allowing Gary Barnett to destroy the current structure and build "luxury condos" on most of the land is not, seems to be the height of absurdity.

    Commerce is commerce, and I didn't realize that Calvinist denominations considered it immoral. The question at hand is the preservation of the city's most remarkable and enriching architectural structures; to mix in claims of sacrilege (in a seemingly hypocritical, doubly-standardized and self-interested manner) is misleading and an abuse of one's position as a religious leader.

  5. #65
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    City Council Upholds Landmark Status of West Side Church

    By ROBIN POGREBIN

    The New York City Council on Wednesday upheld the landmark designation of West Park Presbyterian Church at Amsterdam Avenue and 86th Street, rewarding preservationists for their 20-year effort to save the Romanesque Revival building. The ruling disappointed the church leadership, which wanted to develop part of the site, a plan that involved tearing down part of the building.

    “Forced landmarking has the effect of imposing the governmental idea of mission on the congregation,” said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, in an interview.

    “There is a profound church-state issue here. Religious liberty has not been well-served by this decision.” Dr. Brashear estimated that it would cost $11 million to $12 million to restore the church, which has been closed about two years because of physical deterioration. The congregation, which has dwindled over the years, has been meeting at the nearby Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew. The 116-year-old West Park church was designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in January.

    Gale A. Brewer, a city councilwoman from the Upper West Side who helped lead efforts to preserve the church, acknowledged on Wednesday, “There is a lot of work to be done.”

    Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West, a nonprofit preservation group that had advocated for saving West Park, said she was optimistic that the church would have a new life. “We’ve got the political support, we’ve got the passion and the love for this building,” she said. “It’s going to happen.”

    Also at the City Council meeting, Councilwoman Jessica Lappin introduced two pieces of legislation to try to make the landmarking process more transparent. The first would create a survey division within the Landmarks Preservation Commission charged with conducting periodic assessments of potential landmarks throughout the city. The second would require the commission to respond to outside nominations for designation.

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/20...er=rss&emc=rss

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/0...uws_church.php

  6. #66
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    Upper West Side Church Holds Bake Sale to Raise $11 Million for Renovations

    By Leslie Albrecht

    The West Park Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side needs to raise money to restore the landmarked building.


    The West Park Presbyterian Church was landmarked after a bitter battle between preservationists
    and congregants who opposed the landmarking.


    UPPER WEST SIDE — How many brownies do you have to sell to raise $11 million?

    Preservationists and congregants from West Park Presbyterian Church will find out Sunday, when they hold a bake sale as part of an effort to raise the millions needed to restore the church.

    The historic sandstone church at West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue was landmarked earlier this year against the wishes of the congregation, which wanted to convert part of the building into apartments to raise money to fix the church's badly damaged interior.

    But preservationists rallied to landmark the 120-year-old building, meaning it can't be altered without permission from the city.

    The bitter battle reached a boiling point when a church member was arrested for painting graffiti on scaffolding outside the church criticizing City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who supported the landmarking.

    Now both sides have come together to work toward a common goal: restoring West Park Presbyterian to its former glory.

    Congregants want to hold services again inside the church, which is in such bad shape that they've been meeting at the nearby Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew.

    Preservationists want to fix up the exterior of the church, which they see as one of the Upper West Side's most important buildings.

    Restoring the exterior will likely cost about $11 million, and revamping the interior could require another $9 million, said Rev. Robert Brashear.

    He said Sunday's bake sale is a symbolic act to show the community that West Park's congregation is "willing to take responsibility for its own future."

    "Obviously the whole idea that you're going to raise $10 million with a bake sale is crazy," Brashear said. "On the other hand, there's a sort of simplistic audacity about it that I find very appealing."

    Brashear and his flock have recently been cleaning out the church's interior, removing dead pigeons and other debris. Last week Brashear held an outdoor service on the church steps to remind the neighborhood that the congregation is "still here," Brashear said.

    Meanwhile, preservationists from Landmark West! are asking supporters to open their checkbooks. Councilwoman Gale Brewer hosted a fundraiser in June for the church, and kicked in a $1,000 donation.

    Brewer said she plans to make brownies — her specialty — for Sunday's bake sale.

    Additionally, the New York Landmarks Conservancy has set up an account to receive donations for West Park Presbyterian's fundraising efforts. So far it's collected $11,000, a Conservancy spokeswoman said.

    Arlene Simon, board president of Landmark West!, said raising millions to save West Park Presbyterian may seem like an insurmountable goal, but she's seen it happen before.

    The Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side deteriorated for years, but was saved by a community fundraising campaign, Simon said.

    "Twenty years ago it was in disrepair, now it's live and vibrant," she said. "It's an incredible success story."

    But Simon noted that doing the same thing for West Park will take a team effort.

    "It's only possible with the community's help," she said.

    http://dnainfo.com/20100806/upper-we...#ixzz0vsrVggAG

  7. #67
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    Conversion Experience

    UWS congregation prefers Garage over Landmark

    by Tom Stoelker


    The former garage transformed into an 850-seat sanctuary and community center for Redeemer Presbyterian.
    Courtesy Gertler & Wente Architects

    This Sunday, the Redeemer Presbyterian Church on West 83rd Street will open the doors of its new church, formerly a parking garage, while three blocks away on the corner of Amsterdam and 86th Street, the landmarked Romanesque parish of West-Park Presbyterian struggles to buy a new boiler.

    
The congregations belong to different branches of the Presbyterian Church—the Redeemer is a younger and more conservative branch of Presbyterianism looking to expand, while West-Park tracing its roots back to the 1789 Scotts Calvinists already owns some of the prettiest historic properties in Manhattan.

    Temporarily renting spaces across the city, the Redeemer church approached West-Park, but the timing did not work out and the sale price was not within reach. The church also had specific programming needs that they didn’t want relegated to the basement. The industrial garage suited them better, according to Susan Lee, the redeemer’s project manager working with architects Gertler & Wente Architects on the $53 million conversion of the century-old garage to a five-story church.


    The West Park Presbyterian Church.
    Courtesy Landmarks West
    As the Redeemer congregation moves into its new home, West-Park struggles to juggle maintenance of its landmark while serving its mission. Last month, Landmarks-West cobbled together almost $5,000 to help the church replace its heating system. Tony De La Rosa, the interim executive presbyter of the Presbytery of New York City, said that it’s a burden for churches concerned with maintaining membership to be saddled with caring for monumental edifices. “We’re now hamstrung in the business of being architecture preservation societies,” he said. “If there are entities that wish to take on that, and there’s energy and money for it, fine.” He added that landmark structures cut out certain adaptive reuse options and so newer communities are likely to look at property ownership more skeptically.

    “It seems ironic that there’s this church nearby and a waste of resources to [build] something from scratch,” said Lehman College professor Herbert Broderick, who together with his wife, NYU professor Mosette Broderick, fought to get the West-Park building landmarked in 2010. Like others in the community, Broderick said that he had hoped for a more environmental- and user-friendly solution for West-Park.

    The new church will accommodate 850 parishioners, community programs, and classrooms, which are traditionally relegated to lower levels. Here, they move up to the top three stories of the garage structure, including a sundeck off a top-floor community room. A subbasement was excavated for bathroom facilities; the sanctuary starts 20 feet below grade and ascends three stories. Rugged industrial elements of the parking structure were maintained and exposed. A large glass central bay allows light in and opens onto the street. As there is no height limit on house-of-worship steeples, the elevator bulkhead was slipped into the tower while a steel cross continues up the shaft to 85 feet. All the elements conspire to create an environment that’s decidedly contemporary. “They want to attract a hip urban demographic,” said Tim Eckersly, a principal at Gertler & Wente. “It’s a very young crowd, the average age is about 30 and they want to keep that following, so they didn’t want a traditional church.”

    http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5917

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