Today’s news:

Exclusive! Green Church to become a school

The Brooklyn Paper

The city is moving towards buying the land that was once home to Bay Ridge’s beloved, but now-demolished, “Green Church” for a new school, The Brooklyn Paper has learned.

The School Construction Authority is planning to purchase the former site of the emerald-hued Bay Ridge United Methodist Church to construct a kindergarten- through eighth-grade school that could seat between 600 and 700 students, according to Dena Libner, a spokeswoman for Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge).

A representative from the schools agency said she would not “discuss ongoing real-estate” negotiations.

All of these negotiations would not be happening at all but for the demolition of the historic church at the corner of Fourth and Ovington avenues. Citing an inability to maintain the 109-year-old structure, the congregation sold it and most of the land on which it sat to developer Abe Betesh for $9.75 million to fund the construction of a smaller and easier to maintain church on the site.

Betesh cleared the land for a 72-unit apartment building, but the city rejected his construction permit — and Betesh put up his “For Sale” sign.

It is unclear what motivated the builder — who could not be reached for comment — to abandon the planned condos, but his decision pleased Gentile, who thrice fell short brokering deals with alternate buyers who had other plans for the property.

“Any future development on the Green Church property should be in the best interest of the community, and a public school is exactly what we need in Bay Ridge,” said Gentile, who proposed just that to the School Construction Authority last month.

“This is great news for our neighborhood,” he added. “Our schools are the most overcrowded in the city, and it’s always been clear that what we don’t need is pricey condos for rent — we need more classroom seats for our kids.”

Neighborhood preservations — who were crushed by the October demolition — are considering the proposed school a still-sour lemonade from the ultimate lemon, the destruction of a cherished building.

“It’s better to have a school there than an ugly apartment building or condos,” said Victoria Hofmo of the Committee to Save the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church, who long protested against Pastor Bob Emerick’s plan to demolish the church.

Emerick could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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Shocked Neil from Bay Ridge says:
PRESERVATIONISTS regard this as a VICTORY? That only makes sense if the major goal was NOT to preserve a historically important church (as the group said for years), but to decide who got the empty space.
And how do we know it'll be 'better than an ugly apartment building'? Unless the real meaning of "better" is "it 'preserves' our little corner from more residential traffic (and who cares if condos go up on someone else's block)."

If this is a victory, then we were led astray about the preservation group's claimed goals. After all, if the church weren't demolished, this "victory" couldn't happen - since there'd be no room to build a public school.

Thanks to this victory claim - consider me burned, and cynical re signing onto any more "preservationist" attempts here, since I won't know what they really support.
Dec. 12, 2008, 1:33 pm
jhumbal from b. ridge says:
uh, has anyone *seen* the school design? or does commending it = jumping the gun?
Dec. 12, 2008, 9:59 pm

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