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Preservationists desperate to landmark Flatbush church following sale to developers

Advocacy group Respect Brooklyn is calling on the city to grant landmark status to the Flatbush Presbyterian Church after it was sold earlier this month for $3.325 million.
Brooklyn Paper
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A local preservation group is seeking grassroots support to prevent the demolition of a historic Flatbush church following its sale to a private developer earlier this month, asking New Yorkers to sign a petition urging the city to protect the 121-year-old edifice before it’s too late.

“The danger to this historic building is more real than ever,” said Linda Allende, a rep with the preservationist with Respect Brooklyn — which has been urging urging the city to grant landmark status to Flatbush Presbyterian Church — located at 494 E. 23rd St. between Foster and Newkirk avenues — since the building went up for sale earlier this year.

But now that developers have officially taken possession of the 1898-built church for $3.325 million, preservationists warn that the end may be near for the historic house of worship, suspecting its new owners will seek to demolish the 19th century building to pave the way for future housing developments, according to Allende.

“It is no longer a church,” said Allende. “It is in the hands of a private LLC.”

The real estate brokers listed for the sale did not respond to request for comment regarding plans for the building.

Respect Brooklyn members expressed optimism that the building’s sale would prompt the city’s preservationist agency to designate the building as a landmark — thereby preventing owners from making alterations to the building’s exterior without city approval — but a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission roundly rejected that notion, saying the city has no plans to consider the church at this time.

“While it may merit consideration as a potential landmark, further study is needed to determine its significan­ce,” said Zodet Negrón. “Such a study is not currently among the agency’s citywide priorities.”

Respect Brooklyn reps argued that the Landmarks Commission has neglected southern Brooklyn relative to other parts of the city — pointing to the Commission’s own interactive map as proof that the density of landmarks thins out along the borough’s southern reach.

Negrón acknowledged the area’s lack of landmarks, but said the Commission needed to be especially judicious when landmarking any of the city’s numerous houses of worship.

“We appreciate the importance of the building to its community, but in a city the size of New York, with its many religious structures, the Commission must be very selective in choosing examples of this building type for consideration as individual landmarks,” she said.

Respect Brooklyn is urging the public to support the effort by signing onto their petition, which currently boasts more than 400 signatures. Supporters can also email Borough President Eric Adams and Councilman Mathieu Eugene through the group’s website.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Posted 12:00 am, July 24, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Tyler from pps says:
"Respect Brooklyn" had the opportunity to purchase the property.
July 24, 7:58 am
Tyler from pps says:
And of course landmarking "thins out" as you move south. That's how historical growth and development of the city happened. Older stuff in older parts of the city. Shocking!
July 24, 8:01 am
Leslie says:
Thanks Mayor bloomberg for your policies that we are still dealing with. Policies have a ten year shelf life so we are still dealing with it now. Look what they did to the formerly beautiful South Street Seaport. Totally not necessary. All for more office space.
July 24, 8:34 am
Ro from Park Slope says:
One of the most interesting tear-downs was the demolition of the Green Church on 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge. Some respect was shown there to the past.
July 24, 8:50 am
FC from Foster Road says:
“'It is no longer a church,' said Allende.” Actually, it ceased being a church before the building was put up for sale. It's a purpose-built structure that didn't have a congregation or other community use. If it is landmarked, it will continue to stand empty.
July 24, 10:38 am
Ed from Bay Ridge says:
Too many landmarkers try to declare everything as landmarkable, can't/won't organize to purchase the properties, and want owners to "gift" them the properties and-or want to saddle buyers with crippling landmarks restrictions.
July 24, 11:59 am
Joe Fodor from Flatbush says:
Higher property value for existing housing stock. That’s what NIMBYism is about. "Respect Brooklyn" could not muster a single fact about the church to demonstrate "a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the City, state, or nation" and seemed to leave that work to the Landmarks Commission. We need to call out NIMBYs like "Respect Brooklyn" who would hijack the future of this borough for what they are -- economic elites who want to bar new people and young families from Brooklyn.
July 25, 12:48 pm

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