Another one of Bay Ridge’s beloved old churches is going to be demolished for development — and locals aren’t happy.
Salam Arabic Lutheran Church on Ovington Avenue, which was recently sold by the New York Lutheran Synod for $1.5 million, will be replaced by a five-story, 25-unit apartment building, according to plans filed on Feb. 16 with the city.
“Do we need 25 more apartments? No,” said preservationist Victoria Hofmo, who lamented both the increase in density the construction will bring and the loss of a community treasure, a 70-year-old church modeled after one in Denmark.
“In Bay Ridge, there’s no way to develop without destroying something — and we’re tired of it,” Hofmo added.
But the new owner of the site, Xi Wu, said he was surprised to hear about local disappointment.
“I spoke to a lot of people and nobody told me they were sad about it,” he told us.
Declining parish populations are encouraging congregations to sell off their greatest asset — their buildings. Usually, the buildings are demolished — but they don’t need to be.
In December, the Lutheran Synod sold Salem Lutheran Church, at 67th Street near Fourth Avenue, to St. Matthew’s Church, for $2.65 million. That building will remain.
But a year earlier, the nearly century-old Bay Ridge United Methodist Church was sold to a developer for $9.75 million and was promptly torn down. When the real-estate boom went bust, the site was sold to the city, which is building a new public school.
Salam Arabic Lutheran Church opened as the Salem Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1942. The building, between Third and Fourth avenues, was transferred from the shrinking Danish congregation to the Arabic one in 1995, and renamed, but it could not survive a cash-strapped Synod.