“Like dozens of church leaders across Upper Manhattan, Harper is wrestling with an earthly dilemma: As Harlem real estate values skyrocket, shrinking congregations and crumbling buildings are putting tremendous financial pressure on local churches. Do they stay, sell or look for some middle path to cash in on their newly valuable property while preserving their missions of faith and community service?”
The pressures facing the Harlem faith-based institutions highlighted in this article are not unique. This is a borough-wide problem that must be addressed, which is why my office has conducted outreach and hosted events, like the Faith-Based Development and Preservation Conference we held early last year in conjunction with Community Board 10.
My staff has also worked to identify 913 parcels that are classified as religious facilities, of which some 650 of those buildings are neither protected landmarks nor in historic districts. And 196 are in neighborhoods zoned for mid- to high-density housing, so they are attractive to developers.
I’m committed to working with houses of worship on plans that help them meet their financial needs, but that also benefit the community at large. If you are a faith leader, parishioner or concerned about this issue, please email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Harlem Places of Worship.”