The Bay Ridge Community Development Center will soon be able to renovate the old church building it has operated in since 2020 into a fully-equipped community center.
Southern Brooklyn pols have awarded the BRCD, a neighborhood non-profit, with $6 million in capital funding to turn the Fort Hamilton Parkway building into a new and expanded facility that will serve the whole community.
BRCDC has successfully hosted food distributions, school supply giveaways, youth programs and other support services out of the church, but they, along with other Brooklynites, have long dreamed of having a real, dedicated community center that could service all of their needs, according to Council Member Justin Brannan.
He called the construction project a “dream come true” for residents.
“Bay Ridge has always been built on this volunteer service and spirit of helping one another, but we never had a place to gather, so this is a really big deal,” Brannan said in a statement. “I have deep faith in Bay Ridge Community Development Center’s ability to run the center and to continue providing high-quality supportive and recreational programming to the benefit of all of our neighbors.”
The team plans to build a gym, basketball court, library and an art gallery in a space that will be open to neighbors of all ages and demographics.
“We are going to put in all the great stuff that everybody wants in a community center,” said Bibi Esahack, executive director of BRCDC. “I’m very proud of this moment and I’m very proud for this community, but this is a community center for everybody, every single person that wants to walk in here.”
The current space — formerly St. John’s Episcopal Church — was originally built in 1843, but was decommissioned in 2014.
Six years later, Bay Ridgeites worked together to raise money and purchase the building. Since then they have used the former church to care for residents, young and old.
“It is beyond exciting to see this project come to fruition,” said state Sen. Andrew Gounardes. “Knowing what was here in the past, knowing what an important institution this building and this church was in this community for years and years and to see what it has become and will continue to become with the realization of this community center.”
The BRDC will remain open at the church building throughout construction, which is expected to wrap up in 2026.