Sunday, July 3, 2011

Church property won't be developed

From the Times Newsweekly:

The United Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood has reportedly reached a tentative deal to sell its house of worship to nearby St. Mary-St. Antonio Coptic Orthodox Church, which will use it to expand its services.

The Times Newsweekly has learned that the Presbyterian congregation will continue to remain active at a location to be determined once the deal is finalized to sell its current home, the century old former First Presbyterian Church of East Williamsburgh located at 62-54/56 60th Pl.

“We are not retreating; we are re grouping,” said Rev. Henry Fury, pastor of United Presbyterian, in a phone interview with this paper. He noted that the sale of the house of worship will enable the church itself to unload a financial liability that hindered its continued operation.

According to Fury, St. Mary St. Antonio has indicated that it plans to use the 60th Place site as a second lo cation to hold worship services and other activities. The orthodox church is currently based at 606 Woodward Ave. in Ridgewood and is serving a burgeoning population of Coptic followers.

Last year, United Presbyterian of Ridgewood whose membership has declined in recent years had listed the church on a real estate website as being available. Soon after, however, the congregation opted to forgo the proposed open market sale of the structure and instead focus on developing a co operative senior housing complex at the location.

Under the preliminary plans which were later presented to Community Board 5’s Land Use Committee for its perusal the congregation would have developed 48 studio units adjacent to and behind the house of worship and on the site of its nearby parsonage. The congregation would continue to use the church for worship services and other programs, including a soup kitchen, a food pantry and a gymnasium.

But the sluggish real estate market ultimately doomed the congregation’s senior housing plans, Fury told the Times Newsweekly last Friday, June 17.

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