Land use & zoning Action Guide for religious facilities
Before COVID-19, I enjoyed walking in Manhattan neighborhoods. I would often pass a familiar church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. Sometimes I didn’t see any activity—even on the day of worship—or only a small congregation. And it was easy to notice a leak from the roof or another maintenance problem. I started to hope that the congregation was not in such straits that they were considering selling their property to a luxury developer and moving away.
There are so many beautiful houses of worship in Manhattan—but I know some are facing the dilemma of, “How do we maintain or grow our mission and still keep the building?”
This Action Guide was developed in partnership with graduate students at NYU’s Wagner School as a primer for congregations facing land use issues for the first time. Religious institutions are a bedrock of neighborhood life and identity, and serve as a spiritual, social, and cultural resource for our city. The pressure of being in New York shouldn’t have to mean that congregations close—or that they “cash in” from a once-in-a-generation real estate boom.
I hope you find it useful.
How to use this guide
This Action Guide is meant to serve readers at different levels of understanding of land use and zoning issues. Feel free to skip around to find information most relevant to your situation.
Throughout, we describe religious institutions as “organizations” or “congregations.” When the word “community” appears, it refers to the surrounding neighborhood and not the religious congregation itself.
The information provided within this guide does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice; it is provided for the convenience of the reader. Citations and links to non-governmental entities should not be construed as recommendations or endorsements.
This guide is the product of a team of graduate students from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service as part of their Capstone public service project, in conjunction with Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer during the fall and spring semesters of 2019-2020 academic year. The Capstone team members included Daphna Ezrachi, Luis Hernandez, Miles Martin, and Noelle Meyers-Powell.
Chapter 1: What’s happening, and why does it matter?
According to New York City’s publicly available PLUTO database, over 900 parcels of land in Manhattan are designated for religious use. But that number has been gradually declining, from 976 in 2010 to 907 in 2020. These religious congregations vary by age of organization and/or building, neighborhood context, landmark status (around 10% of the 907 are landmarked), adjacency to developable lots, membership size, and affiliation with hierarchical denominations. All of these variables affect congregations as they face rising real estate challenges in New York City. The decline of religious parcels indicates changes of use of the building—from a religious use to other uses such as residential or educational. This means that religious organizations across Manhattan are making dramatic modifications for their own congregations that affect the wider community.
Various changes can bring about declining memberships in longstanding congregations—from demographic shifts and aging communities, to out-migration due to increasing residential rents. And while financial contributions from congregants dwindle, maintenance costs increase as buildings age (and can include unanticipated expenses to meet modern regulatory standards). This phenomenon is felt more acutely in historic buildings. While exempt from most property taxes, rising property values can drastically impact a religious organization’s neighborhood context, real-estate appraisal prospects, or future development options by creating pressures and financial incentives for struggling congregations. These pressures make selling and relocating to a rented or distant property a viable choice for some groups.
The loss of local religious congregations often negatively impacts both congregants and the neighborhood. Faith-based organizations across the United States are anchor institutions, functioning as hubs of community building, volunteering, organizing, and social services delivery. The “halo effect”—positive spillover of these community benefits—extends to the economic impact of staffing, local purchasing, and providing a multi-purpose space for neighborhood institutions.  Houses of worship can also have positive effects on the built environment: beautifying streets with unique architecture, enabling light in dense neighborhoods, and functioning as visual landmarks.
The COVID-19 outbreak has altered everyday life for the city’s residents and religious organizations—and the importance of these local religious congregations has never been more clear. Many of these organizations have responded to the crisis by expanding their social services, like food pantries and shelters, or by creating new services to assist congregants and residents of their neighborhoods.
Religious organizations have been impacted financially, since their members have fallen ill, become unemployed, or are otherwise unable to tithe or donate. Federal stimulus bills have provided some relief  but many institutions are still in need of resources.
RESOURCES IN THIS CHAPTER
 “The Economic Halo Effect of Historic Sacred Places” from Sacred Places, the magazine of Partners for Sacred Places.
 “How Nonprofits Can Utilize the New Federal Laws Dealing with COVID-19” from Nonprofit Quarterly
Chapter 2: Rights, restrictions, and responsibilities
Nonprofit status of religious organizations
Religious organizations are granted 501(c)(3) status by the Internal Revenue Service, which allows them certain tax exemptions. As congregations incorporate multiple uses inside their properties, it is important for religious communities to consult their legal counsel before approving a major change of use so as to not jeopardize their 501(c)(3) status. It is possible that some revenue from the new uses would not be tax-exempt.
The Attorney General’s role
Sales of religious properties are subject to approval from the Attorney General’s (AG) office pursuant to Religious Corporation Law §12 and New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation Law §511/ §511-a. The AG asks whether there is “fair and reasonable consideration” for the following aspects when approving a sale of a religious facility:
- Is the asset being transferred?
- Will the mission of the nonprofit and its members be promoted?
- How will the nonprofit use the proceeds to advance its mission?
- Was the transaction duly authorized by trustees/members?
Some resources provided by the Attorney General’s office include:
- Religious Corporations: Sales and other Disposition of Assets 
- A Guide to Sales and Other Disposition of Assets by Not-for-profit Corporations 
- Faith-Based Real Estate Development Transactions (Presentation) 
The act of secularizing a building is called “deconsecrating.” Certain faiths have rules that govern deconsecration of religious buildings. These rules might be internal, by a congregation’s commitment to certain religious laws, or a combination in which the religious law supersedes the civil laws when deconsecration and selling are taking place. Congregations should be aware of their denomination’s rules, regulations, and processes on deconsecration before taking action to make a space secular. For example, the Roman Catholic Church is governed by Canon Law and the local Archbishop.
Zoning and land use implications
Zoning regulations govern use, height, density, and other characteristics of the built environment to guide land use development. Evolving with changing goals and court rulings, zoning began in 1916 in New York City, followed by the rest of the nation, with the Zoning Ordinance that laid the groundwork for a 1961 reorganization of zoning regulations still governing land use and development across the city today. Although the 1961 regulations are still in effect, numerous additions, changes and amendments have been added over time. On the federal level, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act seeks to afford additional protection by constraining local land use regulation of religious facilities.
Sections 22-13 and 22-14 of Article II of the New York City Zoning Resolution allow certain community facilities to be built as-of-right, i.e. no special permits required, including houses of worship, in residential areas. Specifically, there are two “community facility” Use Groups: 3 and 4. Use Group 3 comprises most educational uses, and Use Group 4 includes nonprofits, medical centers, and houses of worship. Use Group 4 is permitted in any residential district, R1-R10, as well as any commercial district except C7, which is reserved for large facilities like golf courses and amusement parks.
One of the most important tools regulating density or bulk in New York City is Floor Area Ratio (FAR). FAR describes how a building occupies the area of a lot. Each zoning district has a distinct FAR number associated with it, which when multiplied by lot size shows the permissible building floor area. If a lot is 1,000 square feet, and the two-story building that occupies the lot has 2,000 square feet of usable floor area, then the built FAR is 2.0 (the ratio of floor area to lot size). Different areas are zoned for different maximum values, with some as low as 0.5 FAR and others as high as 10.0 FAR. Developers have some flexibility in how the allowable FAR is used: For example, each building in the diagram uses the same amount of floor area as long as the open space remains unbuilt.
Online resources like the Zoning and Land Use Map (ZoLa)  maintained by the Department of City Planning can show how much FARhas been built compared to the maximum allowed. While this is a good way to get a sense of development potential, owners should consult an architect for exact square footage. Sometimes the built FAR may exceed allowable FAR because the parcel was downzoned after the building was constructed. Such buildings are considered to be nonconforming buildings, and therefore, if the property were redeveloped the new building would have to comply with existing zoning (i.e., the lower FAR). In parcels zoned for different uses, the maximum FAR can vary depending on use. Zoning may also specify a maximum height or setback requirements. These restrictions are common in special zoning and historic districts.
Transfer of development rights (also known as “air rights”)
The Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), also known as air rights transfers, is an important land use tool employed in New York State. This mechanism enables, in certain circumstances, the sale of unused development space (if a building is five floors but could have been 10 floors, for example) to an owner of a separate lot or to the same owner of the granting parcel who owns additional property. Air rights are usually transferred to adjacent lots through a zoning lot merger. This action does not require special approval from the City. However, TDRs also occur between non-contiguous sites. Landmarked sites, for example, have access to specific TDR programs that enable greater flexibility in utilizing this tool (see landmarked properties on Page 12). TDRs (air rights) may be relevant to religious institutions if they are located in high density districts or where Special Area Rules apply, as governed by the City’s Zoning Resolution, and have an under-built site.
RESOURCES IN THIS CHAPTER
 “Religious Corporations: Sales and other Disposition of Assets” from the Office of the New York State Attorney General Charities Bureau (NYS Charities Bureau)
 “A Guide to Sales and Other Disposition of Assets by Not-for-profit Corporations” from the NYS Charities Bureau
 “Faith-Based Real Estate Development Transactions” a presentation from the New York State Attorney General, archived by the Manhattan Borough President
 ZoLa, NYC’s Zoning & Land Use Map developed by the City of New York zola.planning.nyc.gov
Chapter 3: Let’s take stock
The commandments of planning the future of your religious institution
This chapter was informed by the many stakeholder interviews conducted for this Action Guide. It compiles best practices and guidance from subject matter experts and religious leaders who have gone through planning processes. These suggestions are relevant to congregations large and small, to those who are in the midst of planning, or those who have only just begun the process.
What do we own, and how do we own it?
Gathering your documents.
The first step is to gather all the necessary legal documents and records to confirm a clear title to the property. This is helpful to understand how you own your property and if there are any deed restrictions, easements, zoning, or building code obligations, and if your property is a landmarked space or located within a historic district. This is also an opportunity to ensure that there are no tax liens, debt obligations, restrictions on your assets, or other title problems on your property.
title: establishes legal owner(s) of a property
easements: rights held by an interested person to use property, despite not owning it (utility access is common)
liens: unpaid taxes, water bills, and other charges against a property become debts that may be sold by the City
What are we working with?
Assessing your value.
Once you understand what you own, it is vital to know what it is worth. So the second step is to obtain a real estate appraisal which can show your property’s current value, explore what it would be worth with certain uses and investment, and map your assets. This step is especially crucial when considering a sale, as the Attorney General’s office will focus its attention on the appraisal.
appraisal: an estimate of the value of real estate conducted by a third party (usually a State-certified professional) for purposes such as tax assessment, sales, or a mortgage
What do we need and want?
Connecting your goals to your mission.
Assess your needs and wants. Congregations should ask themselves: Do we want to stay in our neighborhood? Would it be beneficial for us to relocate? Review your organization’s mission statement and sources of income. Determine what is “mission-critical” for your
congregation and where you can be flexible. This step is helpful to set goals and understand your internal capacity for whichever step you take in planning your congregation’s future.
What approvals do we need?
Engaging with denomination guidelines and other regulations.
Next, you will need to identify what your decision-making process will be, and who are the bodies that approve these decisions. Will you need approval from members of your congregation or from organizational leadership? Does your site include other buildings or is it located in a special district? Ensure that key leadership and all relevant parties are informed along the way. Present your ideas and plans to these stakeholders for consultation and approval.
Who will lead our goals?
Identifying and empowering the congregation’s decision makers.
The fifth step is to designate a steering committee that can lead the congregation as it navigates the question of what to do with their building. Transparency should be a priority for this committee as it considers the various options a congregation may choose. The congregation’s support is important for plans that consider building maintenance or redevelopment. For some religious organizations it will be necessary to check whether the decision makers must be organized in a certain way to satisfy denominational requirements. Make sure these decision makers are properly authorized according to a congregation’s bylaws.
Who else do we need?
Assembling your team of professionals.
Before crafting a plan, be sure to speak with experts to learn what’s possible and to advocate for your needs. Secure an experienced architect and attorney to complete a preliminary zoning analysis and project test-fit to evaluate your space and to help you understand the zoning regulations, the Attorney General’s requirements, and the design possibilities for your property. Ensure that your team of experts has experience with projects that align with your goals and have worked with faith-based organizations in the past. Be wary of upfront payments. Many architects, attorneys, and property appraisers will even be willing to provide preliminary analyses for free or at a low fee.
preliminary zoning analysis: an early assessment of municipal codes specific to a property, including zoning and more
project test-fit: drafting plans (like floor plans) to estimate how well a property will fit an intended use.
What financial support will we need?
Exploring internal and external opportunities.
Once you start to envision what is possible, you will want to consider what resources exist to finance your goals moving forward. For this step, you will need to obtain internal information about your budget, savings, congregational giving, and endowments. You should explore various funding approaches through private and public resources. For example, there are funding opportunities for landmarking projects and for affordable housing development. See Chapter 8 for a collection of resources.
endowments: funds set aside by or donated to an institution to produce regular income
How can we be transparent?
Communicating with your congregation.
The eighth step is all about communication and inclusion. Make sure to keep the congregation’s leadership and the members informed of the mission, goals, and steps moving forward with regard to any major decisions for the building and the space. This is especially important if the congregation has a formal role in the decision-making process.
Who else are we responsible for?
Understanding your neighborhood impact.
As you are planning for your congregation’s future, remember that you are part of a neighborhood, and your decisions can affect the surrounding community. From spiritual guidance and community building, to providing necessary social services, religious organizations often serve as a community anchor and provide a public value for the larger community. It is important to build relationships in your local neighborhood with residents and institutions and inform the community of your goals. It is helpful to also keep your local elected officials and Community Board updated. Getting support from community partners can help move your organization’s plan forward.
Creating your plan.
Now that you have created a solid foundation of leadership, decision making, engagement, knowledge, and mission-driven goals, it is time to start crafting a work plan that engages with all these steps. No matter which path you choose, it will likely take time, often years, which is why religious organizations should start with a long-term work plan.
Chapter 4: So, you want to stay in place?
After taking stock, your religious organization may decide that staying in place makes the most sense for the congregation and the overall mission of your organization. To assist with maintenance costs, many religious organizations consider pursuing landmark status, applying for grants, establishing partnerships, leasing available space, or even selling portions of their property. This chapter lists different scenarios your organization might want to consider to help “stay in place.”
Many Manhattan religious organizations have property with landmark designations. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) governs all properties that are designated as individual landmarks or are located within a historic district. In either case, any alteration to the exterior of the building must be approved by the LPC. It is also important to note that some buildings within a historic district are known as “contributing buildings” even if they are not individual landmarks.
While the City administers historic designations at the city level, some buildings can be in the national or State historic preservation registries. The National Register of Historic Places is a list of buildings and sites of local, state, or national importance. This program is administered by the National Park Service through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The National Register is separate from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, although many of New York City’s individual landmarks and historic districts are also listed on the National Register.
If you are unsure about your property, you can look it up on the New York City Landmarks Preservation mapping tool. 
One of the most common challenges for all religious organizations are the costs associated with repairs and upkeep— especially for those whose properties are landmarked. Most repairs made to the exterior of the building require approval by the LPC.
There are a few scenarios in which permits for maintenance work that meets the LPC Rules can be issued by staff. An example of this is the Permit for Minor Work, Certificate of No Effect, Authorization to Proceed. In addition, the LPC has an expedited review process called Fast Track Service, which can approve applications in 10 days. Work that does not satisfy the LPC Rules must be reviewed by the LPC Commissioners at a public hearing.
The LPC has produced a guidebook to help applicants navigate the process and expedite staff-level approvals. Check out the LPC Permit Guidebook for a full overview. 
The New York Landmarks Conservancy, a New York City-based nonprofit, maintains a hotline that can be a good first step to inquire about repairs and restorations to a landmarked facility.
Their staff can provide referrals to building management professionals, contractors, real estate professionals, and technical services that can help navigate religious organizations through a restoration project. Call the hotline at 212.995.5260. 
The New York Landmarks Conservancy also administers a Sacred Sites Fund.  This program provides religious organizations with matching grants for planning and implementing exterior restoration projects, technical assistance, and workshops. Grants are awarded to assist with projects such as conditions surveys, architectural and engineering fees, roof replacements, masonry restoration, stained-glass restoration, and structural repairs. Priority is given to essential repairs to the primary worship building.
For landmarked properties, unused development (air) rights are one way to generate revenue for building repairs and renovations. See the end of Chapter 2 (in the “Transfer of development rights (also known as “air rights”)” section) for an introduction to air rights/TDRs. Obtaining a special permit pursuant to Section 74-79 of the Zoning Resolution through the City Planning Commission will allow a property to sell air rights to a receiving parcel that is across the street or down the block from the granting parcel.
This special permit allows greater flexibility in finding a receiving site than the standard rule, which requires the receiving site to be adjacent to the granting parcel. This action would be subject to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) and the Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process. See Chapter 5‘s “Environmental Review” section or more about these regulations.
Additional resources and funding opportunities can be found in Chapter 8.
SEEKING LANDMARK STATUS
A religious organization can petition the LPC to receive landmark status for their property. The LPC evaluates individual parcels and districts for their architectural, historical, or cultural significance when granting landmark status. Potential landmarks and historic districts are identified by the LPC through surveys and other Commission-initiated research. Commission surveys and research may include properties suggested by members of the public. The LPC maintains a list of the types and criteria  of landmark properties and districts online.
If you are considering pursuing landmark status—or the LPC is considering your building for designation—consider the possible outcomes carefully.
Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC): the agency responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status, and regulating them after designation
landmark: Properties designated with landmark status by the LPC have special historical, cultural, or aesthetic value to the City of New York. The LPC must approve in advance any alteration, reconstruction, demolition, or new construction affecting the designated building.
- Historical and cultural buildings in the City are protected for future generations
- Greater flexibility in selling air rights
- Financial grants and tax credit opportunities
- Can restrict ability for property to maximize its monetary value
- Repair and maintenance costs can become cumbersome
- Landmarking may help solve the challenges of the building but will not assist membership decline
Renovating non-landmarked properties
Any alterations or changes of use are subject to the standard rules and regulations of the New York City zoning and building codes. Proper permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB) are required for most renovation work. Learn more about how to obtain a permit from the DOB. 
Religious organizations across the borough have implemented programs that produce income streams to stabilize finances and fund ongoing maintenance or rehabilitation projects. Religious organizations can lease unused space to other organizations or provide programming that generates income. The sale of air rights is also an opportunity to generate revenue for building maintenance.
If your organization has an income-producing property that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you may be eligible for federal and State tax credits to help pay for rehabilitation projects. The New York State tax credit must be used with the Federal Investment Tax Credit Program. Owners of income-producing properties that have been approved to receive the 20% federal rehabilitation tax credit automatically qualify for the additional state tax credit if the property is located in an eligible census tract. Learn more from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. 
LEASING AND SHARING SPACE
Leasing space presents opportunities to generate income and expand community impact. In this situation, the religious organization serves as a landlord and has to understand what the building has to offer, what types of tenants it wants, and how it will meet its obligations as a landlord. Many religious organizations share their space with performance and art groups, nonprofit organizations, and community social services for one-time or ongoing events. A long-term tenancy model may be more financially sound; such tenants can be helpful for investing in the building, helping to make repairs, and contributing to long-term capital improvement.
capital improvement: any addition or alteration to real estate that meets all three of the following conditions:
(A) it substantially adds to the value of the real property, or appreciably prolongs the useful life of the real property
(B)it becomes part of the real property or is permanently affixed to the real property so that removal would cause material damage to the property or article itself, and
(C)it is intended to become a permanent installation.
Religious facilities can provide a unique atmosphere for events. For example, in Brooklyn, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church frequently rents out its space for concerts (pictured), art exhibitions, and other cultural events. The church also leases out, on a long-term basis, an attached parish house to Saint Ann’s School, which provides a more stable income. The school renovated the space to better suit its needs, and in exchange for the school taking on the renovation costs, the church withheld charging rent for a period of time.
Another example is St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Manhattan, which shares its space in ways that align with its core mission. The church hosts an emergency food program that serves over a million meals a year; service providers that assist with food stamp applications; attorneys who help with immigration processes, housing issues, and domestic violence cases; and a job placement program. The church also established a partnership with neighboring synagogue B’nai Jeshurun, which houses a women’s shelter. All of these activities are managed by a shared calendar, and the space is provided on a contribution basis. Proceeds are directed toward the maintenance of the space.
BEST PRACTICES FOR LEASING AND SHARING SPACE
- Staff Capacity and Operations: Determine who will manage daily operations and maintenance of the building. When there is a large number of tenants, religious organizations may consider hiring a full-time building manager or an outside cleaning service. Additionally, security needs may vary from tenant to tenant.
- Mission Alignment and Tenant Compatibility: Ensure that the tenants’ activities align with the core fundamental beliefs of your congregation. It is also important to screen potential tenants for their organizational stability. Religious organizations should meet their tenants’ executive staff and research their turnover rate and constituents to determine if a stable partnership can be formed.
- Tenant Agreements and Approval: Identify which parts of the property will be re-leased, how, and for how long. Religious organizations should work with an attorney to draft a lease that specifically outlines the agreement timeline, what the landlord will provide, and what the tenant is responsible for paying (the agreed upon rent, maintenance, utilities, repair costs, any tax liabilities that arise from space use, etc.). The landlord may also want to create a conflict-of-interest policy to determine how intertwined the landlord’s and tenant’s constituents are permitted to be.
- Complying with Code: Religious organizations need to ensure that they are in compliance with building, fire, and accessibility codes. Fire plans should be updated, and an “accessibility audit” should be conducted to determine ways to provide accessible entry, egress, and overall use of the building’s facilities. This audit is especially important for communities considering renting out space for an early childhood center, which has more stringent building safety requirements.
- Consult New York City’s Accessibility Toolkit and Resource Guide  to review key requirements for accessibility.
- Creating a Schedule: Create a shared calendar of space usage to communicate when space is available.
- Insurance: Liability varies from tenant to tenant, and the changing building usage may affect insurance premiums.
- Unrelated Business Income Tax: The Unrelated Business Income Tax is meant to tax business income rather than passive investment income. Religious organizations should consult a tax attorney to review the lease and assess the tax consequences of the lease transaction.
- Passive rents can be taxable if: (A) there are services performed by the landlord that are primarily for the benefit of the tenant, (B) more than 10% of the rent under lease is attributable to personal property and has been provided by the landlord in connection with the use of space, or (C) the property is subject to certain mortgage debt.
Developing partnerships with like-minded organizations can be a powerful tool to both further your mission and also find new avenues for income for facility maintenance.
A great example of a church that forged such a partnership is Judson Memorial Church. Parallel to its mission to be an inclusive, uncensored space for the community and a beacon for free speech, Judson Memorial Church rents out its space to organizations that push the boundaries of justice, art, and worship. The church has a Sunday service but is also regularly programmed by a variety of these groups. The space is rented for a fee, and those who align with the church’s mission are eligible for subsidized rent. The church’s space rental form  offers a good template for gathering relevant information and identifying events that reflect an organization’s mission and values.
Partners for Sacred Places is a national organization that helps religious organizations build capacity to better serve their neighborhoods as anchor institutions, while nurturing transformation and shaping vibrant, creative communities. They have publications on fundraising, sharing space, and building repairs and maintenance. 
Unrelated Business Income Tax: Even though an organization is recognized as tax exempt, it still may be liable for tax on its unrelated business income. For most organizations, unrelated business income is income from a trade or business, regularly carried on, that is not substantially related to the charitable, educational, or other purpose that is the basis of the organization’s exemption.
Unused air rights/TDR
Religious organizations that own their property might have unused air rights, and in Manhattan, these rights can be highly valuable. Selling these rights could generate funds to help maintain or redevelop a property, and can potentially provide a financial asset base to fuel outreach and community development initiatives, thereby expanding the organization’s levels of influence and effectiveness. See the end of Chapter 2 (in the “Transfer of development rights (also known as “air rights”)” section) for an introduction to air rights and Transfer of Development Rights.
For example, Bethel Gospel Assembly  in Harlem faced the need to build a larger sanctuary to accommodate a growing multicultural congregation, increased weekly gatherings of visiting international guests, and accommodate a second congregation comprised of French-speaking West Africans and Haitians who settled in Harlem. Bethel Gospel Assembly was approached by a developer who wanted to build on what was originally the church’s parking lot.
To accomplish the goal of building condominiums, rental space, and a new adjoining worship center, the church sold its unused air rights and maintained its land ownership. Bethel Gospel Assembly received $12 million up front, and the developer agreed to build a state-of-the-art worship facility at the base of the tower. In addition, the church acquired ownership and management of the rental units in the tower, which provides ongoing revenue
This transaction enabled Bethel Gospel Assembly to maintain ownership despite neigborhood gentrification. The church continues to be a supportive pillar in the community and the city under an emerging leadership of millennials.
Founded in 1917, Bethel Gospel Assembly has gone through three major developmental stages amid corresponding socio-economic and quality-of-life shifts in Harlem. In 1985, the church moved into the former James Fennimore Cooper Junior High School after purchasing the abandoned property at auction from the City for $300,000 in 1982. With a down payment of one-third the purchase price, New York City provided Bethel Gospel Assembly with a mortgage for the balance, which was paid off in the following decade, rendering the property debt free. The 150-member congregation contributed their sweat equity to renovation efforts.
This has enabled initiatives such as an in-house men’s shelter, prison outreach, a food pantry, and a counseling center. The church has also hosted Gun Buy Back, Operation Clean Slate, Youth Opportunity HUB, Emergency Response, and other community initiatives. The church currently occupies two buildings on their square block complex: the Bethel Gospel Assembly Connection Center and the Destiny Worship Pavilion.
RESOURCES IN THIS CHAPTER
 Discover New York City Landmarks, official map of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
 LPC Permit Guidebook: How to Get Staff-Level Approvals, 2019 Edition, from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
 212.995.5260,The New York Landmarks Conservancy Hotline
 Sacred Sites Fund Grant Criteria, The New York Landmarks Conservancy
 Landmark Types and Criteria, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
 How to Obtain a Permit, the New York City Department of Buildings
 Tax Credit Programs, New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
 “Accessibility Toolkit and Resource Guide for NYC Disability Service Facilitators,” the NYC Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
 Space Rental Form, Judson Memorial Church
 Publications and Guides, Partners for Sacred Spaces
 Bethel Gospel Assembly
Chapter 5: So, you’re going to redevelop?
Many religious organizations, especially historic ones, own their building as well as a larger lot surrounding the main sanctuary structure. When religious organizations begin considering rede- velopment, the options can vary greatly according to their site, its constraints, ownership structures, and location in Manhattan.
A religious organization must also consider which uses— residential, community, commercial, or mixed-use—it would like to redevelop on its site. These choices can seem daunting, but at the same time they offer a unique opportunity to strengthen the congregation and the surrounding neighborhood by changing the built landscape. Whether you are redeveloping all of your site or just a part of it, the following sections outline the main redevelopment tracks, considerations, and challenges that religious organizations face in real estate redevelopment, and a best practices section.
Attorney General approval
The first consideration religious organizations should be aware of is the role of New York State Attorney General’s (AG) Charities Bureau. The sale, mortgaging, or leasing of a religious property, for a term exceeding five years, is subject to approval from the AG pursuant to Religious Corporation Law §12 and New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation Law §511/ §511-a. See Chapter 2 (in “The Attorney General’s Role”) for more about this requirement.
This oversight is meant to protect religious congregations and to ensure that the sale and redevelopment process is fair, mission-enhancing, done correctly, and financially worthwhile for the religious organization. If your congregation is considering redevelopment, the AG’s Charities Bureau will be one of your first stops.
This is only applicable to religious organizations that are not members of a hierarchical church, like the Roman Catholic Church. The exempted, hierarchical denominations have legal authority to internally review the disposition process but will also require New York Supreme Court approval.
5 STEPS FOR AG APPROVAL
Some religious organizations may want to develop their property into a new community space, which may or may not include space for the actual religious congregation. A potential advantage of this type of development is that it may not require the demolition of the entire site or building, which can reduce the costs of the project. Partial renovation might help with bringing in a new partner to share the property while using the renovated space for a new use, like St. Paul St. and Andrew United Methodist Church, discussed in Chapter 4 (in the “Leasing and Sharing Space” section).
Public funding for this type of project is harder to come by, which makes it more difficult when congregations retain ownership of the building or are looking to partner with developers or potential buyers. Funds for new community spaces are scarcer than those for affordable housing partly because there are restrictions for the separation between religious and secular uses in a shared building or within one organizational structure. Religious organizations may need additional funds for this sort of development (see Chapter 8). Religious organizations should pursue this path only if it truly reflects the congregation’s needs, and if the project is financially feasible.
Alternatively, the redevelopment can include demolition of the entire interior and the creation of a completely new community facility, not for the use of the congregation (this would include sale of the property).
A more common and often more financially feasible development path is residential use. A residential project could be built as a market-rate development, with rents based on real estate market trends, or be designated as an affordable housing project. Additionally, a development could include some market-rate and some affordable units. Religious organizations that choose to redevelop their properties into a mixed residential-community facility building allocate space for the congregation within the new building. This decision enables the religious organization to remain in their neighborhood, potentially receive a new, accessible worship space, and at times, receive additional cash or in-kind benefits from the developer.
Many variables impact the feasibility of a residential development on a site with a house of worship. Development variables to consider include zoning restrictions that apply to the site and surrounding blocks, environmental conditions of the land and whether remediation is needed, real estate market trends, and the size of the site.
Just as important are the internal considerations of a congregation: What are our financial and communal needs? What type of development would further our mission? What do members want to see if we partner with a developer? And what would our neighborhood want to see developed?
A recent example of a market-rate partnership between a developer and a religious organization is Congregation Shaare Zedek, the third-oldest Jewish community in Manhattan, located on the Upper West Side. The synagogue building was demolished, and the site is currently in construction of a new 13-floor market-rate residential condominium building. The synagogue will own the basement and the first and second floors, which will house its main sanctuary, offices, community rooms, and a long-term nonprofit tenant. Above the synagogue floors will be residential units sold to private owners.
Tips from Shaare Zedek lay leaders
- Lead the process with open communication with the congregation because buy-in and support are crucial.
- Assemble a professional team of consultants, starting with an owner’s representative. Development is complex and risky, and any successful project will require a solid team of professionals.
A housing unit is considered affordable for the tenant if they do not pay more than 30% of their gross income on rent or mortgage. As housing prices continue to increase in New York City, finding affordable housing has become a challenge for many individuals and families. Developing a religious facility into an affordable housing project plays a much-needed positive role in alleviating the need for affordable housing across New York City and offers those communities an opportunity to fulfill their mission in a new, responsive way.
For religious organizations interested in developing their site into an affordable housing project, a good way to proceed is to form a Public-Private Partnership between the development team (usually the religious organization and developer) and a public agency. This kind of partnership has the benefit of access to government resources. The involvement of City, State, and/or federal agencies reduces the risks associated with a transaction and enhances the economic viability of a development project.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)  is one of several government agencies that religious organizations should engage with when preserving housing or developing new construction projects.
HPD is the largest municipal housing preservation and development agency in the country. HPD’s mission is to “promote housing equality and create and sustain viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through housing education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing standards.”
Congregations should engage the agency’s Planning & Predevelopment and New Construction Divisions during the initial stages of project conception to understand financing options and development potential. Although having HPD as a partner is crucial, religious organizations should be aware that the City’s regulations are complex and require patience and a high level of expertise when conducting real estate development transactions. HPD provides financing for real estate projects through low-interest rate loans and subsidies. Several divisions of HPD provide technical support to the development partners throughout the project.
environmental remediation: the removal of pollution or contaminants from water (both ground and surface water) and soil, for the protection of human health, as well as to restore the natural environment
HPD maintains a list of firms that have already been evaluated for working on HPD/Housing Development Corporation-financed projects: the Pre-Qualified List (PQL) of Owner’s Representatives 
In addition to public resources, there are private nonprofits that can offer substantial support for religious organizations that choose to develop affordable housing on their sites. Some organizations to consider are: Enterprise Community Partners,  LISC NYC,  the New York State Council of Churches,  Bricks and Mortals,  and Kingdom Faith Developers . All offer technical and professional services, and some offer financial support as well. Read more about these organizations in Chapter 8.
A recent example of an affordable housing redevelopment is the Rocky Mountain Baptist Church in Washington Heights. The new building will include a state-of-the-art space for the church— including a sanctuary, community rooms, and offices. The building’s upper floors will be 100% affordable senior housing. The site posed several physical challenges which, coupled with previous zoning regulations, made redevelopment difficult. Recent City programs and zoning exemptions that reflect the City’s commitment to develop affordable housing, like the Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) amendment, made the project viable. The development team includes Rocky Mountain Baptist Church, a private for-profit developer and RiseBoro,  a nonprofit affordable housing developer.
Tip From Adam Zeidel of Coconut Properties
“It took many months to create trust between members of the church and our team. The process required patience and motivation from both sides. Make sure to provide the time and resources to foster these partnerships.”
TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED
- Religious institutions should seek to hire attorneys, architects, and underwriters who are experienced in working with the City on affordable housing projects. Professional construction monitors and owners’ representatives are key consultants who can provide invaluable assistance to faith-based institutions and comprise the development team, which functions as consultants and advocates for the faith-based institution throughout the real estate development process.
- Religious organizations should partner with experienced developers who have successfully completed transactions with the City. Ideally, these partners should have recent experience with affordable housing and mixed-use (residential, commercial, community facility) developments.
Zoning and land use expertise are important when developing on City-owned land. Faith-based institutions should know how to navigate the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP)
- Post financial closing, owners and developers should hire professional construction monitors to confirm that the project is closing on time and within budget. They will also need to have cleared any violations related to their projects or properties. This can take time, so religious congregations should account for these steps in the project’s timeline.
Basic sequence of real estate development
1 . PREDEVELOPMENT
- Includes assembly of development team, due diligence as related to site conditions, architectural design, permits and approvals, public review process.
2. CONSTRUCTION FINANCING CLOSING
- Financing of a real estate transaction includes two main stages: during construction and post-construction/ permanent financing.
- After all predevelopment requirements and permits are achieved, closing on construction finance may take place.
- For affordable housing, this usually takes place in June or December.
- Depending on scope of work, can take up to two years.
- Construction monitoring and management are active the
- Religious organizations may have to relocate during
4. CONVERSION TO PERMANENT FINANCING
- Planning for this phase commences as construction wraps up.
- This is a complex process that involves many of the project’s stakeholders.
5. LEASE UP AND OPERATIONS
- Toward the end of construction, the development team needs to prepare for occupancy and lease up. This stage requires many approvals from government agencies to confirm habitability of a building, and it can take months.
- For affordable housing, this includes marketing to and selecting tenants from a housing lottery via HPD’s Housing Connect website. Congregations may now designate affordable housing specifically for their membership or anyone in particular. To assist your congregants looking to enter the Housing Connect lottery connect them with HPD’s Housing Ambassador Program. 
- After a building opens, a management company or division within the developer’s company manages building operations.
Common development processes
Pursuing real estate development in New York City often requires interactions with various community-based or government rules and processes. Some of these are mandatory — like environmental review or the ULURP process—while others are advisory, albeit often beneficial for a developer seeking community or political support for a given project. Below are descriptions of the common developmental processes religious congregations may encounter. Awareness of, and effective engagement with, the many stakeholders will help move a project forward.
New York City is divided into 59 Community Districts, governed by Community Boards made up of 50 local residents and stakeholders who volunteer their time and focus on issues within that district. These Boards offer meaningful ways for citizens to get involved with local issues and advocate for the community with City agencies and elected officials. It is common for developers, both non- and for-profit, to attend a board meeting to present a project. These meetings can help religious institutions get a sense of community needs and garner support from the Board. Although Community Boards do not have legislative authority, they are integral in the ULURP process (if one were required), and working in good faith with them can help improve and promote a development project.
Look up your community district  to find your Community Board’s contact information, meeting schedule, and local updates. In general, building a relationship with your board is important because of the importance of religious facilities to the neighborhood landscape.
REZONING IN NEW YORK CITY
New York City’s zoning regulations determine what can be built, where, what size, and for which uses. Although most development projects occur as-of-right, meaning no government approvals are needed. Others require a change in zoning that triggers ULURP, which typically takes about seven months (see chart on next page). Rezonings can be pursued by an individual applicant, a local community, or a City agency. Religious organizations should be mindful of the time and cost implications of the ULURP process for projects where it’s required. It is strongly advised that you a hire a consultant who has experience working with ULURP applications to help shepherd the project through the process.
The Center for Urban Pedagogy offers a number of illustrated guides to introduce city planning topics like ULURP, including “Zoning It In,”  an exploration of neighborhood rezoning.
The Department of City Planning (DCP) maintains an online, public database of past and current ULURP applications for rezonings at their Zoning Application Portal (ZAP). 
Environmental reviews of a real estate development project are highly technical processes that take place for various reasons. ULURP, for example, triggers the City’s mechanism known as the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR). Environmental reviews can be executed by federal, State or local agencies, depending on the project. For most reviews triggered by land use changes, DCP is the lead agency of the process, although the actual document is prepared by the applicant (i.e. the developer).
Environmental reviews can dictate changes to a real estate development project to mitigate the potential project-generated negative impacts, such as increased traffic. Development teams can get technical support from DCP as to whether they need to produce an environmental review and, if so, how they should get started. The DCP has more resources on its website  that break down the complicated process of environmental review.
The ULURP review timeline:
Dept. of City Planning
Certifies application as complete; ULURP clock begins ticking.
Reviews and submits recommendation after public hearing
Borough President & Borough Board
Reviews and submits recommendation
City Planning Commission
Reviews and votes on proposal after public hearing
Reviews and votes on proposal after public hearing
Reviews and approves or vetoes proposal
Best practices for real estate development
- Do your due diligence. Start the process with as much information as possible. Know your assets and their financial worth (which can be determined through an appraisal), legal constraints (title on the property, affiliation with a hierarchical church, requirements for attorney general involvement, etc.), and needs. Speak with public and private organizations that can offer support and resources. See Chapter 3 for tips.
- Consider your congregation’s needs as well as needs of the broader community in which the congregation is located. Ask yourself: What are the biggest land use or social justice issues facing your congregants and the neighborhood at large? Is there a community plan that your organization can reference as part of this due diligence? Review, discuss and consider those needs with your own members to craft a plan that works for you.
- Put out a request for proposals (RFP), and don’t wait for developers to approach you. Once you know what you want, be proactive in soliciting proposals. It is better to review multiple proposals; you should interview developers and conduct reference checks. If a detailed RFP is too difficult or costly, then craft an open letter or non-binding term sheet to get started.
- Further protect the congregation and offer more control by considering a ground lease or a contract for the delivery of the space that is recorded on the property. This is beneficial because ground leases—the lease of only the underlying land— provide access to a well-located property that otherwise may be difficult to buy. For the congregation, a ground lease provides a payment to the faith based organization, while allowing them to retain ownership of land. If a developer could not finish a project, a ground lease, which is recorded on the property, protects the congregation from being left without their land.
- Hire a professional development team (not members of the congregation) and make sure to vet them properly before bringing them on board. Even if congregants are professionally involved with real estate, it’s a good idea to work with external consultants who can fill gaps in expertise. This team should include an attorney, architect, owner’s representative, and environmental consultant. If the project involves affordable housing development, the congregation should consider assembling a team from HPD’s list of pre-qualified owner’s representatives.
- Recognize the delicacy and complexity of the process in terms of the loss of the original building, how these changes might impact congregants, and the development process itself. Development projects may take years to complete, and the congregation must be in agreement and in continuous communication.
- Don’t overspend upfront. Some nonprofit entities offer initial grants (see Chapter 8) and many consulting firms are often willing to have initial conversations and preliminary analysis completed for free or a low cost upfront.
RESOURCES IN THIS CHAPTER
 Enterprise Community Partners
 New York State Council of Churches
 Bricks and Mortals, a project of Judson Memorial Church
 Kingdom Faith Developers
 RiseBoro Community Partnership
 Housing Ambassador Program, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
 Community Boards, portal from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit
 Zoning It In, a 2017 guide from the Center for Urban Pedagogy
 Zoning Application Portal (ZAP), New York City Department of City Planning
 Environmental Review Process, New York City Department of City Planning
Chapter 6: What if you are without a property?
Needs of religious organizations without spaces
There are some religious organizations in New York City that do not have a permanent space to worship. These are often newer, non-denominational, or non-affiliated organizations. While these religious organizations have found creative solutions for their communities—leasing space from other religious organizations, private schools, movie theaters, or offices—they also face several financial and organizational challenges. These organizations struggle to find adequate space that includes a large prayer room, community rooms, and storage space for their equipment. While not having a permanent space can have advantages, these organizations struggle with anchoring themselves in a given community. Engagement with the broader community is inherent to many religious organizations’ mission. Inability to secure a permanent space hinders these types of religious organizations from developing networks and relationships that strengthen both the congregation and the broader neighborhood.
Partnerships and unconventional spaces
Not having a permanent space can create opportunities to foster partnerships among organizations in a similar situation and with other religious and neighborhood institutions.
Liberty Church  is one of the newer churches in New York City with several locations that each operate without a permanent location. As a non-denominational church, they have rented various spaces across the city, including ballrooms, music schools and movie theaters (pictured). Although the congregations each number below 250 in weekend attendance, Liberty Church is growing and would prefer to have a stable home in their respective neighborhoods. According to its Upper West Side Pastor, Danny Best, “Church planting is growing, especially in New York City, and we need space resources. The future is bright, but it is also challenging.” Pastor Best is hopeful that creative thinking and partnerships among neighborhood institutions will help both established and new religious organizations to thrive in the city.
First, religious organizations that lack space should know that there are other similar organizations in the City they could potentially partner with, such as Redeemer City to City,  a nonprofit that trains and coaches Christian leaders in cities on “church planting,” or establishing a new church. For the Jewish community, the Emergent Jewish Network  also serves to connect unaffiliated Jewish people to a meaningful practice through networking and resources.
There are also more established religious organizations that are open to sharing spaces. Creating a network or working group among these religious organizations can foster information sharing, advocacy opportunities, and mutual support. As many older religious organizations struggle to maintain their own buildings, opportunities for space sharing with newer communities increase.
An example of a successful partnership between a church and synagogue can be found in two Manhattanville congregations: Romemu Synagogue and West End Presbyterian Church.  For many years Romemu, a renewal synagogue founded in 2006, rented space from a neighboring YMCA. As their congregation grew, they realized they needed a larger space and noticed the church across the street, West End Presbyterian, which has a large sanctuary. They formed a relationship, and the congregations eventually utilized the distinct sabbath schedules to figure out how to share space.
According to Jeff Cahn, the Executive Director of Romemu, “It works beautifully. When we have scheduling issues we work together as partners to accommodate the various needs. We recently bought that YMCA building, but it is not as big as the sanctuary of the church. We consider the area as a whole campus.
Tips from Jeff Cahn, ED of Romemu
- Have an open mind and don’t be afraid of working with people of different faith traditions. Recognize synergy opportunities when they are available and can work for both partners.
- View the relationship as a long-term partnership, which takes time and dedication to nurture.
- Have a written understanding that outlines the official aspects of the relationship.
Between these two buildings we are able to answer the needs of both congregations. We view this as a deep partnership. We do not only share spaces — we do classes and events together. We have relationships between congregants. This takes time but is very important.”
Partnering with private or public schools can also yield a potential collaboration for religious organizations without space. Fostering a relationship with a public school is more complicated and perhaps might be improved by future policy changes or, for now, by gaining support from a local City Council member. Religious organizations can also think creatively about their needs and which unexpected spaces could work, such as offices of a large nonprofit, event spaces, or even pop-up opportunities in areas with substantial retail vacancy. Organizations should be proactive in their partnership building and look for opportunities in their neighborhoods.
RESOURCES IN THIS CHAPTER
 Liberty Church
 Redeemer City to City
 Jewish Emergent Network
 “The Romemu Campus: A Body to House Romemu’s Soul,” poster advertising an online town hall (2018)
Chapter 7: Policy recommendations
Community-generated resource network
An online platform for community-generated data for religious facilities is much needed. While many religious facilities welcome the opportunities of space-sharing and leasing for additional income, there is a lack of infrastructure to support knowledgesharing about existing properties. This platform could be administered either by a City agency or nonprofit; could assist in connecting property owners to the many artists, small businesses, nonprofits, or congregations seeking new spaces; and could list unused or underused space within buildings, the design specifications of these spaces, the available social services that currently exist within the property, and contact information. The community-generated data of spatial needs and existing property assets would be beneficial for both the social and land use needs of congregations.
Helping congregations prepare for development or sale
It has become clear that religious communities require additional support in navigating the complex systems and structures that surround property ownership and development so as to protect against fraud and abuse. The New York Land Opportunity Program connected religious facility property owners to legal assistance, nonprofit developers, local Community Boards, and City agencies to assist in developing their properties for affordable housing. Having access to sufficient resources for key stakeholders and players involved in land use processes and/or pre-development assistance would be beneficial for faith institutions in connecting with experienced and unbiased professionals.
The Dept. of Housing Preservation and Develpment should provide religious organizations with a pre-qualified list of owner’s representatives. This would ensure experts who are able to assist faith-based communities in the extensive predevelopment work necessary to build affordable housing are reimbursed of a portion of their expenses should a project not be fully completed.
Furthermore, the Attorney General’s office should be equipped and authorized to provide additional guidance and support to faith-based institutions to ensure they are not taken advantage of during a sale. Some religious facilities have changed hands under a cloud of fraud, abuse, or unfair dealings that result in major financial or structural issues for the organization. Empowering the Attorney General with more authority would both provide a greater deterrent against bad actors and provide a stronger foundation for the at-risk facilities and communities seeking a fair transaction.
The forms submitted to the Attorney General should be updated to include questions identifying whether or not any parties involved are insiders to the congregation or institution and thereby may have a conflict of interest or relational complication. The forms should also include timelines and narratives describing the dates and circumstances of how the deal commenced (i.e. a short timeline initiated by the purchaser, or a timeline established through responses from a request for proposal). Insider relationships, shortened timelines, and deals initiated by the purchaser could all be red flags that initiate a “closer look” level of scrutiny by the Charities Bureau to ensure the deal is free of fraud, abuse, or unfair practices.
Access to capital funding
Access to public program, discretionary, and capital funding is very difficult for most religious facilities, no matter how much they are used for secular and/or public purposes. The process of applying for these funds is arduous and has specific, changing guidelines, which are often impossible to tackle with a very small number of paid staff (even if the institutions are supporting important public work).
Current interpretations of established law concerning the separation of church and state make funding opportunities difficult to navigate when a “religious facility” is involved. However, recent federal stimulus funding programs have provided support to houses or worship and faith-based communities, so there is justification for funding restrictions to be reviewed and updated to current circumstances.
Clarification and guidance as to definitions, sources, uses, restrictions, and regulatory oversight post-funding is needed. This could include the opportunity for religious facilities to receive a qualifying designation if their properties fall under historical landmark or cultural site designation, or adhere to a particular percentage of public and social use. This designation could require and incorporate a regulatory agreement to ensure long-term compliance.
Many religious facilities provide significant secular social programs, resources, and space usage and have portions of their facilities that rarely, if ever, are used for religious purposes. Allowing for these facilities that act as significant public and social resources to access governmental capital funding to maintain the facilities used primarily for secular public benefit would allow public officials and agencies to support valuable cultural and publicly accessed spaces for the common good.
Additionally, new climate change mitigation laws requiring the retrofitting of buildings to reduce the city’s carbon footprint or be made ADA accessible do not exempt religious institutions. And while it is in fact necessary for all buildings to undertake designconscious and energy efficiency upgrades for the benefit of the environment and broader public, these alterations are very costly — especially for buildings that may be centuries old. It is in the public interest to allow access to public funding for religious communities that otherwise would not be able to meet these new building standards.
Religious facilities that have been landmarked or are located in a historic district have external requirements placed upon their facilities beyond their internal control and disconnected from their current use. They also have limited opportunities to increase revenues through building alterations or development because of the value their buildings are collectively perceived to have for the larger public experience, neighborhood character, and historical significance.
However, restrictions on public funds being used for maintenance of these properties create an unfunded mandate that many sites are unable to meet. Restrictions for historically landmarked religious properties should be eased to ensure these publicly significant buildings can access the public resources needed to fulfill their required maintenance and upkeep mandate.
Should a new development occur in a designated historic district, the developer should be required to pay into a historic district fund that could be accessed by nonprofit organizations that support preservation in the area. For example, while this fund may not be used for religious-affiliated purposes, it may be used by neighborhood religious facilities in historic buildings to fund upkeep and preservation as well as to retrofit buildings to be ADA compliant or environmentally sustainable.
Significant tax credits and financial assistance should be provided for religious facilities in historic districts and non-historic districts to maintain and restore their buildings. This benefit would include historic properties not in historic districts and non-designated historic properties.
There are many religious facilities throughout the borough and city with significant cultural meaning and history, but may not meet the criteria for or have been designated as a historical landmark. Yet it is still important for these sites with deep and rich cultural significance—often located in lowincome communities of color less likely to receive landmark designation—to maintain their properties for the good of the community. Without such support, these future historic landmarks are at risk of falling into disrepair.
Establishing a mechanism for these important religious facilities to pursue a “cultural site” designation with approval from local community and elected officials could provide opportunities for early intervention for religious facilities at risk of predatory development and cultural displacement.
Properties that fall outside these criteria may need to consider “condo-ization” to separate out areas within an existing structure for strictly secular use. Funding then becomes available for the non-religious portion, as demonstrated in the case study of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church (see Chapter 4 in the “Leasing and Sharing Space” section). Yet even when qualified for the City’s capital funding, the installation of an ADA ramp leading into the food pantry in the church’s condo-ized basement required years of conversation between representatives from the church and the pantry, the local Council member, and the NYC Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to navigate through a then-uncharted funding process. This example highlights the need for codification and publication of processes by agencies such as the OMB so that condo-ized facilities can apply for and secure public funding. Codification and publication of processes for condo-ization of facilities should be established.
Sole-sourcing of City-owned property for development
Should the City sell its property or air rights, it should give a right of first refusal to any faith institution or nonprofit that is adjacent to such property.
Air rights from religious facilities should be allowed greater flexibility for transfer to an appropriate receiving site within a defined district for the purpose of affordable housing development. However, these transfers must be aligned with mission-consistent development, such as for affordable housing. See the end of Chapter 2 (in the “Transfer of development rights (also known as “air rights”)” section).
Chapter 8: Resources and further reading
Manhattan Borough President’s Office
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer initiated a Religious Facilities Task Force that brought together stakeholders to meet and discuss strategies around issues congregations are facing as it relates to development pressures and the impact on communities. Presentations from the NYC HPD, LPC, the NYS Attorney General, and others—along with meeting agendas and minutes—can found at: www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/rftf/
New York City Community Boards
Community Boards facilitate the participation of citizens with City government agencies and their communities. They are made up of appointed members and hold monthly public meetings. Community Boards are an important step in many land use processes like ULURP. Many Boards have land use committees that discuss land use action proposals within the community district. Find your Community Board: www1.nyc.gov/site/cau/community-boards/community-boards.page
New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)
HPD is responsible for implementing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0, a plan to create or preserve 300,000 affordable units by 2026. Religious organizations that are considering adding housing to their site as part of an adaptive reuse or rehabilitation project should engage HPD early in the process to discuss financing options and understand their development potential. More info: www.nyc.gov/hpd
New York City Department of City Planning (DCP)
DCP administers New York City zoning regulations. Religious organizations that are seeking to alter the use or make building alterations that are not “as of right” will be required to go through ULURP. More info: www.nyc.gov/planning
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
LPC is responsible for protecting New York City’s architecturally, historically, and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status, and regulating them after designation. There are more than 37,000 landmark properties in New York City, most of which are located in 149 historic districts and historic district extensions in all five boroughs. More info: www.nyc.gov/landmarks
State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
SHPO helps communities identify, evaluate, preserve, and revitalize their historic, archaeological, and cultural resources. The SHPO administers programs authorized by both the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the New York State Historic Preservation Act of 1980. These programs — including the Statewide Historic Resources Survey, the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places, the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, the Certified Local Government program, the state historic preservation grants program, state and federal environmental review, and a wide range of technical assistance—are provided through a network of teams assigned to territories across the state. More info: parks.ny.gov/shpo/
New York State Attorney General (AG)
Sales of religious properties are subject to approval from the AG’s office. Start at: www.charitiesnys.com/
New York City Department of Buildings (DOB)
Religious facilities are classified (M) in DOB building type codes. Landmark designated properties seeking to do work to the exterior of their building beyond “standard maintenance” will need to obtain a DOB permit as part of their application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. More info: www.nyc.gov/buildings
Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU)
Under the current mayoral administration, the CAU has a Center for Faith and Community Partnerships, which serves as a direct line to City Hall. It connects local and citywide coalitions of leaders to services that increase equity and inspire civic engagement throughout the city.
More about the CAU: nyc.gov/site/cau
More about the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships: www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/015-17/mayor-deblasio- new-center-faith-community-partnerships/
Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER)
The OER is a team of scientists and engineers that design and operate municipal programs to promote cleanup and redevelopment of vacant contaminated land in NYC. More info: nyc.gov/oer
National Park Service
The National Park Service develops national standards and guidelines for preserving, rehabilitating, restoring, and reconstructing historic properties. They also provide the tools and information that historic property owners, preservation professionals, organizations, and government agencies at all levels need to care for the nation’s historic properties. The National Park Service administers the Historic Tax Credit program for which religious organizations are eligible to apply. More info: www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm
General funding and grants
Manhattan Borough President and New York City Council: Capital Funding Requests for Nonprofit Organizations
Religious organizations are not eligible for capital grants funding through the City of New York. These grants will only fund secular uses within a religious organization. This means that if a religious organization usually needs to set up a institution has an affiliated separate, nonsectarian nonprofit entity which will manage the grants and uses, the affiliated organization may be eligible for capital funding. More info: www1.nyc.gov/site/capitalgrants/index.page
Guidelines for applicants: www1.nyc.gov/site/capitalgrants/guidelines/guidelines.page
Manhattan Borough President: Manhattan Community Award Program (MCAP)
MCAP provides small reimbursement-based funding awards for secular uses of up to $3,500 to nonprofit organizations and public schools. Each award is contracted through one of four City agencies selected by the applicant: Department for the Aging (DFTA), Department of Correction (DOC), Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). Proposals must relate to the selected agency’s overall mission and goals. More info: www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/funding/community-grants/
New York City Council: Discretionary Funds
The New York City Council awards discretionary funding every year to nonprofit organizations providing community-based services. Organizations receiving awards are required to have an approved NYC Health and Human Services (HHS) Accelerator Prequalification Application, among other eligibility criteria. The HHS Accelerator Prequalification Application: www1.nyc.gov/site/ mocs/partners/complete-the-clearance-process.page
State of New York: Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services
This office helps build capacity by working with the State Nonprofit Coordination Unit to connect faith-based community organizations with grant opportunities, as well as aid in completing grant applications. More info: www.ny.gov/programs/governors-officefaith- based-community-development-services
State of New York: Historic Tax Credit Program
This credit must be used with the Federal Investment Tax Credit Program for Income Producing Properties. Owners of income producing properties that have been approved to receive the 20% federal rehabilitation tax credit automatically qualify for the additional state tax credit if the property is located in an eligible census tract and the Part 2 and Part 3 state fees have been paid. Owners can receive an additional 20% of the qualified rehabilitation expenditures up to $5 million. More info: parks.ny.gov/shpo/tax-credit-programs/
State of New York: Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program
The Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program makes targeted investments in capital projects that improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of nonprofit human services organizations that provide direct services to New Yorkers. Targeted investments include renovations or expansions of existing space used for direct program services; modifications to provide for sustainable, efficient spaces that would result in overall energy and cost savings; accessibility renovations; and technology upgrades to improve electronic records, data analysis, and/or confidentiality. More info: www. budget.ny.gov/pubs/archive/fy20/exec/agencies/appropData/ NonprofitInfrastructureCapitalInvestmentProgram.html
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Community Services Block Grant Funds (CSBG)
CSBG provides funds to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities. It funds projects that address the needs of low-income individuals, including the homeless, migrants, and the elderly; and those that provide services addressing employment, education, better use of available income, housing, nutrition, emergency services, and/or health. Many religious organizations serve these populations and could benefit from additional CSBG funds to their neighborhood. More info: www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/programs/csbg/about
New York Landmarks Conservancy: City Ventures Fund
The City Ventures Fund works with nonprofit organizations to retain the period details of non-landmark, but architecturally significant buildings being converted to affordable housing and other services that benefit lower-income communities. Eligible organizations include nonprofit housing corporations, community development organizations, social service agencies, homesteading groups, and mutual housing associations that are restoring historic buildings. Some religious organizations might fit the eligibility requirements through the programming they offer. More info: www.nylandmarks.org/programs_services/ grants/city_ventures_fund/
Enterprise Community Partners: Faith-Based Development Initiative (FBDI)
FBDI assists the faith-based community to ensure that people of all incomes have access to fit and affordable housing and community resources. More info: www.enterprisecommunity.org/where-we-work/ mid-atlantic/faith-based-development-initiative
Joint Venture Guidebook: A Resource for Developing Affordable and Supportive Housing: www.enterprisecommunity.org/ resources/joint-venture-guidebook
Local Initiatives Support Corporation NYC (LISC NYC): Various Programs for Religious Organizations
LISC NYC provides selected faith-based organizations with technical assistance and financing for new construction and preservation housing projects including predevelopment, acquisition, construction, permanent lines of credit, bridge financing and construction lending. Acquisition and pre-development financing through the NYC Acquisition Fund: www.nycacquisitionfund.com/
New York Land Opportunity Program (NYLOP): www.lisc.org/nyc/what-we-do/affordable-housing/ new-york-land-opportunity-program/
Other resources from LISC: www.lisc.org/nyc/what-we-do/ affordable-housing/development-and-preservation-financing/
The National Center to Encourage Judaism (NCEJ): Programming Support for Jewish Communities
NCEJ supports the efforts of synagogues and other Jewish nonprofits to reach out with special programming to those who don’t identify as Jewish but want to explore becoming part of the Jewish community. Award amounts for local organizations can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the program. More info: www.ncejudaism.org/what-we-fund/
Partners for Sacred Places: Grant Opportunities for Religious Organizations
Partners for Sacred Places is the only nonsectarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to sound stewardship and active community use of older sacred places across America. They provide capital campaign training and fundraising strategies, along with technical assistance and grants to congregations and other local organizations. Partners for Sacred Places is collaborating with Dance/NYC and the New York Landmarks Conservancy to locate available space in sacred places and provide free training for dance makers and faith-based organizations interested in learning how to share space with one another. The goal of this project is to create and foster sustainable, mutually beneficial space-sharing. NYC program information: sacredplaces.org/nyc/
National program information: sacredplaces.org/ reimagine-your-sacred-place/national-fund/
The New York Landmarks Conservancy: Preservation Services
This New York City-based nonprofit organization administers several funding programs. Through the Preservation Hotline, the Conservancy fields questions about building repair, project management, and contractor referrals. For issues that cannot be resolved over the phone, the staff makes site visits and meets with owners, architects, and contractors. More info: nylandmarks.org/what-we-do/preservation-services/
The New York Landmarks Conservancy: Emergency Preservation Grant Program (EPGP)
EPGP comes to the rescue when an immediate hazard threatens a landmark building owned by a nonprofit organization. Its intention is to address discrete exterior building problems that have recently arisen, such as new leaks, fire damage, and falling masonry. More info: nylandmarks.org/what-we-do/grants-loans/emergency-preservation-grants/
The New York Landmarks Conservancy: Historic Properties Fund
The Historic Properties Fund offers low-interest loans and project management assistance to owners of historic residential, nonprofit, religious, and commercial properties throughout the city—mostly in low- to moderate-income communities. Since 1982, the Historic Properties Fund has assisted over 261 buildings. It is one of the largest, private revolving loan funds in the country used exclusively for historic preservation. More info: nylandmarks.org/what-we-do/ grants-loans/historic-properties-fund/
New York Landmarks Conservancy: Sacred Sites Program
The Sacred Sites Program provides congregations with matching grants for planning and implementing exterior restoration projects, technical assistance, and workshops. Eligible properties include churches, synagogues, meetinghouses, mosques, and temples. More info: www.nylandmarks.org/programs_services/grants/ sacred_sites_program/
Lending and finance
The information provided here does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. All information, references, and links are provided for the convenience of the reader. Citations and links to non-governmental entities should not be construed as recommendations or endorsements.
Churches and related religious properties such as temples, convents, and religious schools are a specific type of commercial real estate. Specialty lenders offer mortgage loans for religious properties, and the loans adhere to conventional commercial terms. Some religious organizations fund their own real estate purchases, construction, and improvements or have an affiliated lender. However, many churches, temples, religious schools, convents, and monasteries depend upon mortgage loans to meet their goals. Here are organizations that may help.
CDF Capital: www.cdfcapital.org/church-loans/
Christian Community Credit Union
The Christian Community Credit Union offers commercial real estate and ministry loans to churches, schools, colleges, mission-sending and para-church organizations. More info: www.mycccu.com/ministryloans/
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
CDFI are private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. More about Community Development Financial Institutions: ofn.org/what-cdfi
The CDFI Fund: www.cdfifund.gov/programs-training
Everence is a faith-based financial services organization that offers services and resources to help churches pursue their mission and vision with a supportive stewardship ministry that encourages and inspires generosity. More info: www.everence.com/financial-services/for-churches
Sterling National Bank
Sterling uses a single point of contact model to offer and discuss a full range of banking solutions along with a unique perspective and solid guidance on how to best manage the “business” aspects of running a religious organization or nonprofit. More info: www.snb.com/not-for-profit-services
New York State Council of Churches (NYSCoC)
NYSCoC organizes across the state on social justice issues. They also have seminars, workshops, and training for faith leaders on topics like land use and how to engage your congregation in property discussions. More info: nyscoc.org/about/
Bricks and Mortals: Judson Memorial Church
Bricks and Mortals plays an important role as convener, bringing together religious, professional, and advocacy organizations. They gather, educate, and advise faith-based institutions facing the challenge of staying open and mission-consistent in the context of aging buildings, declining membership, and rising real estate costs. More info: www.judson.org/bricksandmortals
Table Coworking & Social Impact Spaces
Table, Coworking & Social Impact Spaces is a national organization that connects public and sacred spaces to other users to enhance multi-generational, multi-experiential community opportunities. Based on co-working models that enhance sharing of resources, capacity building and strengthening of smaller organizations. More info: tablecoworking.com/
Redeemer City to City (CTC)
CTC is a nonprofit organization that prayerfully recruits, trains, coaches, and resources leaders who cultivate gospel movements in global cities primarily through church planting. CTC is based in New York City and works in over 140 global cities. CTC’s core competencies are urban church planting, leadership development and content creation. More info: https://redeemercitytocity.com/about
Jewish Emergent Network
Jewish Emergent Network serves to connect unaffiliated Jewish people to a meaningful practice through networking and resources. More info: http://www.jewishemergentnetwork.org/
Interviews & sources
Susan Albrecht, Executive Director,
Association of New York Catholic Homes
Danny Best, Community Pastor, Liberty Church
Grace Chung, Senior Community Development Officer,
Local Initiatives Support Corporation NYC
Peter Cook, Executive Director,
NYS Council of Churches
John E. Denaro, Reverend,
St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Pro-Cathedral
Karen DiLossi, Director of Arts in Sacred Places,
Partners for Sacred Places
Michael Firestone, Co-president,
Congregation Shaare Zedek and Kehilat Hadar
Ann-Isabel Friedman, Director of Sacred Sites Program,
New York Landmarks Conservancy
Marc Greenberg, Director,
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
Colleen Heemeyer, Deputy Director of Grants & Preservation Services,
New York Landmarks Conservancy
Linda Rosen Heinberg, Assistant Attorney General,
NYS Attorney General’s Charities Bureau
Rachel Hildebrandt, Senior Program Manager,
Partners for Sacred Places
Breanna Hudson, Program Officer,
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Micah Hunter, Former Senior Underwriter, New Construction,
NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development
K Karpen, Senior Pastor,
St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Allison King, Grants and Program Manager,
Partners for Sacred Places
Jason Labate, Attorney at Goldstein Hall and Co-chair of Bricks and
Imam Khalid Latif, Executive Director, Islamic Center at NYU
John Mangin, Senior Counsel, NYC Dept. of City Planning
Eric Parsons, Deacon, New Life Church
Matt Petric, NYC Dept. of City Planning
Donna Schaper, Reverend, Judson Memorial Church
Mark A. Silberman, General Counsel, NYC Landmarks Preservation
Veanda Simmons, Director of Manhattan Planning, Office of
Neighborhood Strategies, NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and
Kate Toth, Project Manager, Bricks and Mortals
Mark Williams, Associate Pastor, Bethel Gospel Assembly
Paul Woody, Chair, Fort Tryon Jewish Center Building Committee
Adam Zeidel, CEO, Coconut Properties, LLC.
Academic articles & journals
Boffard, Brandon Keith. (2014). Transferable Development Rights in
New York City. Law School Student Scholarship. 413.
Choi, E. (2010). Adaptive Reuse of Religious Buildings in the U.S.:
Determinants of Project Outcomes and the Role of Tax Credits.
Semantics Scholar. www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Adaptive- Reuse-of-Religious-Buildings-in-the-U.S.%3A-Choi/69c9150d3c1c 183ccc125848b28aa2ead72d5f70
Giordano, Margaret. (1988). Over-Stuffing the Envelope: The Problems
with Creative Transfer of Development Rights. Fordham Urban Law
Journal, Vol. 16, Iss. 43, 43-67.
Kelly, Eric Damian. (2009). Zoning for Religious Institutions.
Planning Commissioners Journal 76, 1-4. plannersweb.com/ wp-content/uploads/2012/08/457.pdf
Mısırlısoy, Damla . (2016). Adaptive reuse strategies for heritage
buildings: A holistic approach. Sustainable Cities and Society,
Volume 26, Pages 91-98. www.sciencedirect.com/science/ article/abs/pii/S2210670716301044
Silverberg, Steven M. and Zalantis, Katherine. (November 2010).
Religion and Land Use in New York. New York Law Journal, 1-3.
(10 June 2001). Q.&A.; Community Facilities in Residences. The
New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2001/06/10/realestate/qa- community-facilities-in-residences.html
Hughes, C. J. (Oct. 4, 2019). For Churches, a Temptation to
Sell. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/ realestate/for-churches-a-temptation-to-sell.html
Katz, Bruce and DiIulio, John J. ( Sep. 1, 1997) In America’s
Cities, The Lord’s Work: The Church and the “Civil Society
Sector”. The Brookings Institution. www.brookings.edu/articles/in-americas-cities-the-lords-work-the-church-and-the-civil-society-sector/
Molina, Alejandra. (Nov. 12, 2019). ‘Yes in God’s Backyard’ to use
church land for affordable housing. Religious News Service.
Pastore, Jess. (2007). Religious Institutions Show the Way.
Project for Public Spaces. www.pps.org/article/sacredspaces Quintana, Mariela. (Oct. 12, 2015). What Are NYC Air Rights All About?. One Block Over by StreetEasy. streeteasy.com/blog/ what-are-nyc-air-rights-all-about/
Ricciulli, Valeria. (Aug 28, 2019). Harlem church pins renovation
hopes on adjacent 33-story tower. Curbed New York. ny.curbed.com/2019/8/28/20835778/harlem-new-york-hermosa-church-renovation
Websites & reports
14.09 State Regulations. NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic
Preservation. parks.ny.gov/shpo/environmental-review/state-regulations. aspx
Affordable Housing & Faith-Based Communities. Presentation by HPD to the Manhattan Borough President’s Office. www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/HPD.pdf
An Introduction to Section 106. Advisory Council on Historic
Capital Improvements. NYS Dept. of Taxation and Finance. www.tax.ny.gov/pubs_and_bulls/tg_bulletins/st/capital_improvements.htm
(2002). Common Bond: Shared Space. The New York Landmarks
Community Boards. NYC Mayor’s Community Affairs’ Unit. www1. nyc.gov/site/cau/community-boards/community-boards.page
(2019). Creating Spaces: Performing Artists in Sacred Spaces. Presentation by Partners for Sacred Places to Manhattan Borough President’s RFTF. www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Creating-Spaces-Presentation-NYC-011020- FINAL.pdf
Discover New York City Landmarks. NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/designations/maps.page
Enterprise New York. Enterprise Community Partners. www.enterprisecommunity.org/
Environmental Review Process. NYC Dept. of City Planning. www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/applicants/environmental-review-process. page
(2019). Faith-Based Real Estate Development Transactions. Manhattan Borough President. www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/AG-Office-Faith-Based-Real-Estate- Dev-April-2019-final.pdf
Grants and Incentives. National Park Service. www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalhistoriclandmarks/grants-and-incentives.htm
Historic Sites Act of 1935. National Park Service. www.nps.gov/ history/local-law/hsact35.htm
Homepage. Judson Memorial Church. www.judson.org/
Homepage. Kingdom Faith Developers. kingdomfaithdevelopers.org/
Homepage. NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development.
Homepage. NYS Council of Churches. nyscoc.org/
Housing Development. RiseBoro Community Partnership.
How To Obtain A Permit. NYC Dept. of Buildings.
Land Use. The New York City Charter Revision Commission 2019.
LISC NYC. Local Initiatives Support Corporation. lisc.org/nyc/ (2019). LPC Permit Guidebook: How to Get Staff-Level Approvals.
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. www1.nyc.gov/assets/ lpc/downloads/pdf/LPC-Permit-Guidebook.pdf
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. National Park Service.
National Historic Landmarks Program. National Park Service.
(2019). Programming Religious Facilities for Maximum Benefit. Presentation to the Manhattan Borough President’s RFTF. www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Goldstein-Hall.pdf
Publications and Guides. Partners for Sacred Places.
(2019). Religious Facilities Development Opportunities. Manhattan Borough President’s Office. www.manhattanbp.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/DCP_Air-Rights.pdf
Residence Districts: R10 – R10A – R10X. NYC Dept. of City Planning. www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/zoning/districts-tools/r10.page
(2019). Rules of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Title 63, Rules of the City of New York. NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Sacred Sites Fund Grant Criteria. The New York Landmarks Conservancy. nylandmarks.org/what-we-do/grants-loans/sacred-sites/criteria/
Types & Criteria. NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. www1.nyc.gov/site/lpc/designations/landmark-types-criteria.page
Unrelated Business Income Tax. Internal Revenue Service. www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/unrelated-business-income-tax
Zoning Application Portal. NYC Dept. of City Planning. zap.planning.nyc.gov/projects
Zoning Districts & Tools: Use Groups. NYC Dept. of City Planning. www1.nyc.gov/site/planning/zoning/districts-tools/use-groups.page
(2018). Zoning Handbook. NYC Dept. of City Planning. www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/about/publications/zoning-handbook/zoning-handbook.pdf
(2017). Zoning It In. Center for Urban Pedagogy. welcometocup.org/file_columns/0000/1004/zoning_it_in.pdf
While working on this Action Book we were exposed to numerous helpful studies, reports or articles pertaining to religious organizations and their properties. Here is a list of additional readings based on our research:
A Survey of Transferable Development Rights Mechanisms in New York City. NYC Dept. of City Planning. www1.nyc.gov/assets/planning/download/pdf/plans-studies/transferable-development-rights/research.pdf
How Philadelphia’s Historic Sacred Places Have Been Repurposed. Pew Charitable Trusts. www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2017/10/18/how-philadelphias-historic-sacred-places-have-been-repurposed
Joint Venture Guidebook, A Resource for Developing Affordable and Supportive Housing. Enterprise Community Partners. www.enterprisecommunity.org/download?fid=9155&nid=6240
The Economic Halo Effect of Historic Sacred Places. Partners for Sacred Places. sacredplaces.org/uploads/files/16879092466251061-economic-halo-effect-of-historic-sacred-places.pdf
Warner, Barbara D. & Headley Konkel, Rebecca. (2019)
Neighborhood churches and their relationship to neighborhood processes important for crime prevention, Journal of Urban Affairs, 41:8, 1183-1204, DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2019.1581030 www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07352166.2019.1581030?journalCode=ujua20
(2017).What is ULURP?. The Center for Urban Pedagogy. welcometocup.org/file_columns/0000/1408/180606_cup_guide_for-web.pdf
About this Action Guide
This guide is the product of a team of graduate students from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service as part of their Capstone public service project, in conjunction with Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer during the fall and spring semesters of 2019-2020 academic year. The Capstone team members included Daphna Ezrachi, Luis Hernandez, Miles Martin, and Noelle Meyers-Powell.
The Religious Facilities Task Force (RFTF), convened by Borough President Brewer in fall 2019, formalized years of engagement with Manhattan’s religious congregations on the unique challenges they are facing.
The RFTF brought together congregations, nonprofit developers, preservation groups, and government agencies in a series of discussions exploring how buildings that are consecrated and designed for religious purposes could—if the congregations desire—be repurposed, preserved, or redeveloped for affordable housing or nonprofit use. In addition to RFTF meetings, the Capstone team interviewed Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders, professionals in the field, and representatives of government agencies.
The Capstone team was supported by staff from the Borough President’s Land Use division (particularly Stephanie Chan and Orlando Rodriguez) and by the civic technology nonprofit BetaNYC (particularly Emily Goldman, Zhi Keng He, and the 2020 Civic Innovation Fellows) housed within the Borough President’s office.
The first research phase included reviewing previous internal reports of the Borough President’s office and BetaNYC’s analysis of Manhattan’s religious organizations based upon factors such as the Dept. of Building’s Use Group categories, landmark preservation status, and a neighborhood’s historic status. The Capstone team also observed public hearings and attended the Religious Facilities Task Force meetings, getting perspective from both the neighborhood level and the complex realm of government and nonprofit agencies that work with religious organizations. Next, the team conducted independent research on the topics included in this Acton Book, engaging stakeholders to identify neighborhood and citywide trends, needs, and opportunities. The stakeholders were composed of religious leaders, professionals in the field, and representatives of government agencies. This research illuminated religious and civil law, community engagement, historic preservation, adaptive reuse, sources of funding, and best practices for redevelopment.
Acknowledgements from the NYU Capstone team
The NYU Robert F. Wagner capstone team would like to thank Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and her land use team, particularly Stephanie Chan and Orlando Rodrieguez, the BetaNYC Team, facilitator Matt Dunbar of Habitat for Humanity, NYU Wagner, and our Capstone faculty.
Special thanks to all those who were interviewed and to the participants of the Religious Facilties Task Force whose experiences inspired, and whose feedback improved, this book. Their names and organizations can be found below.
Manhattan Borough President’s Religious Facilities Task Force
Talib Abdur-Rashid, Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan NY
William Adams, CovantNYC
Rebecca Amato, NYU Democracy Lab—Gallitan School
Dominique Atchison, Office of the Mayor
Athena Bernkopf, East Harlem-El Barrio Community Land Trust
Danny Best, Liberty Church Upper West Side
Valerie Jo Bradley, Save Harlem Now!
Pastor Yolanda Brown, Community Board 11
Karim Camara, NYS Office of Faith-Based Community Development
Ryan Cassidy, RiseBoro Community Partnership
Grace Chung, Local Initiatives Support Coalition NYC
Peter Cook, New York State Council of Churches
Terri Cook, Nativity Committee
Bea Delatorre, Trinity Church
Karen Dilossi, Partner for Sacred Places
Hanadi Doleh, Interfaith Center of New York
Rev. Patrick Duggan, UCC Church Building & Loan Fund
Matt Dunbar (facilitator), Habitat for Humanity
Marcia Eisenberg, Jewish Community Relations Council New York
Michael Fermagich, YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood
Andrew Foley, Jonathan Rose Companies
Ann-Isabel Friedman, New York Landmarks Conservancy
Emily Goldman, BetaNYC
Marc Greenberg, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness & Housing
Zhi He, BetaNYC
Colleen Heemeyer, New York Landmarks Conservancy
Linda Rosen Heinberg, Charities Bureau, NYS Attorney General
Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Fort Washington Collegiate Church
Steve Herrick, Cooper Square Committee
Matthew Hoskinson, First Baptist Church
Sevilla Hughes, St. James Presbyterian Church
Lolita Jackson, Redeemer Presbyterian Church Corporation East Side
Rev. K Karpen, St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Church
Casey Kemper, Counselors of Real Estate
Joanne Kennedy, Catholic Worker
Sean Khorsandi, Landmark West
Allison King, Partner for Sacred Places
Carey King, Uptown Grand Central
Jason Labate, Goldstein Hall PLLC
Jessica Loeser, Goldstein Hall
John Magin, NYC Department of City Planning
Valerie Mason, Community Board 8
Paula M. Mayo, The Interchurch Center (God Box)
Jonathan Nelson, Nelson Madden Black LLP
Nilsa Orama, East Harlem-El Barrio Community Land Trust
Valerio Orselli, Cooper Square Committee
Darie Pollock, Jewish Community Relations Council New York
James Jae-Hoon Park, United Methodist Church, Park Consulting
Yolanda Potasinski, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Malcolm Ali Punter, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement
Staci Ramos, Gethsemane Garden Baptist Church
Barbara Reiss, Congregation Shearith Israel
Rev. Robert Rice, Harlem Hospital
Joe Rosenberg, Catholic Community Relations Council
Patrice Ruel, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Donna Schaper, Judson Memorial Church, Bricks and Mortals
Veanda Simmons, NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development
Rita J. Stewart, St. James Presbyterian Church
Egbert Stolk, The Episcopal Diocese of New York
Timothy Tapia, Charities Bureau, NYS Attorney General
Bruce Terrell, Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Kate Toth, Bricks and Mortals
Randall Toure, RiseBoro Community Partnership
Lynn Wishart, Yeshiva University
Jacky Wong, Community Board 3