“This is a tragedy,” said Melissa Elstein, a member of the West 80s Neighborhood Association. “It is sad and it is showing the difference between what is happening in New York City and in Europe. In Europe, these great churches and synagogues are preserved and cared for.”
Roger Leaf, trustee of the New York City Presbytery, who serves as chairman of the West Park Administrative Commission, the church’s governing body, said the decision to file a hardship application was made after a year. of analysis “and it was not reached”. slightly.”
The request, he added, contained “over a hundred pages of documentation, prepared by structural engineers, architects, restoration experts,” corroborating the argument that saving the building would cost almost $50 million and that keeping it in its current state was depleting the church. Of funds.
“The congregation has put every penny they have into the building and has had to go into debt, so far in 2022, just to keep the lights on,” Leaf said.
A lost cause?
As part of a development team presentation, Daniel Kaplan, an architect at FXCollaborative, said renovation costs included an estimated $10 million for the interior and $18 million for restoration of the crumbling façade. This year alone, he said, the building had received three violations from the Department of Buildings totaling $70,000 in fines.
Given the substantial problems that have been identified, as well as the damage that has yet to be discovered, Kaplan said $50 million to save the building “is a very reasonable number.”
Although most members of the public were in favor of maintaining the building’s landmark status, some felt that preservation was a lost cause.
“The church has been in disarray for two decades,” said Austin Celestin, a 19-year-old urban design student at New York University who said he grew up in the neighborhood.