Facing increasing pressure from low-income housing activists over the fate of two shuttered East Village churches, the Catholic Church on Monday pledged to redevelop its existing properties to create nearly 2,000 affordable units over the next decade.
Nearly 1,500 units of affordable housing have been slated for church-owned properties in NYC, according to information provided by the church’s spokesperson. Of the six sites the church is currently developing, five are in the Bronx and one is in the Lower East Side. Another 500 would be developed in the coming years, according to the church.
Beginning with the official opening on Monday of a 112-unit complex at 1180 Fulton Street, the former site of a Bronx church, these projects mark a “new phase” in the church’s commitment to affordable housing, said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, which serves as the social service and housing development arm of the archdiocese.
“It’s a really important recommitment of the church to doing affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers,” Sullivan told Gothamist.
The Archdiocese of New York City is believed to be Manhattan’s largest landowner.
Among the list of six projects, some have already begun construction while others are still in the pre-construction phase, he said.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan was expected to speak on Monday afternoon about the church’s affordable housing plan at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Bronx complex. In addition to city housing officials, First Lady Chirlane McCray was also scheduled to be in attendance.
But notably absent on the church's list were two closed churches in the East Village that have been closely watched by downtown community activists: the Church of the Nativity, on Second Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets, and the Church of St. Emeric, on Avenue D between East 12th and 13th Streets.
The Cooper Square Community Land Trust has unsuccessfully tried to buy the two closed churches from the Archdiocese so as to develop the sites into low-income housing.
“While we commend the church for the good they are doing, we remain opposed to the church disposing of properties in gentrifying neighborhoods that are in danger of luxury condo development,” said Val Orselli, a project director with Cooper Square Community Land Trust. "The church has not merely an obligation to do good but it also has an obligation not to do harm."
Monsignor Sullivan said he was not aware of the plans for those two churches.
Cooper Square Community Land Trust is planning a Town Hall to discuss the fate of Catholic Church and other religious-affiliated properties on May 6th at 6:30 p.m. inside Cooper Union.
Below is the full list of Catholic Church affordable housing developments:
- St. Augustine Apartments, 1180 Fulton Street, Bronx (112 units)
- St. Vincent de Paul Senior Residence, 909 Beck Street, Longwood, Bronx (89 units)
- Second Farms, 1932 Bryant Avenue, West Farms (319 units)
- St. Philip Neri, 3054, 3069 Villa Ave., Bedford Park, Bronx (177 units)
- Christopher Court, 2890 Park Avenue, Melrose, Bronx (160 units)
- Grand Street Guild, 157, 179 Broome Street, New York (600 units)