The city shot down preliminary plans for a residential building at the site of Fourth Avenue’s soon-to-be-demolished “Green Church” — but the rejection didn’t deter church officials and builders from their controversial plan to level the 109-year-old house of worship to construct condos and a smaller church.
Last week, the Department of Buildings disapproved plans that included a seven-story, 72-unit residential building, an 8,196-square-foot church, and a 42-car parking lot that would replace the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church at the corner of Ovington Avenue.
But developer Abe Betesh said the disapproval is more about revision than rejection.
“They are reviewing it,” Betesh said. “When you submit a set of plans and they disapprove it, they give you certain comments or ask you further questions — it means they are working on it.”
It is not immediately clear why the city shot down the controversial plans for the “Green Church” site, but a Buildings Department official told The Brooklyn Paper that plans are typically disapproved if they don’t comply with building or zoning regulations, or if they are incomplete.
Despite the disapproval, the planned demolition and development will continue, Pastor Robert Emerick said.
Emerick has come under fire from preservationists who want to save the crumbling church building, but the reverend says that his dwindling congregation simply cannot afford to maintain the costly building, which he has deemed their “albatross.”
Tearing down the verdant church to make room for a residential development would raise money for the construction of a smaller, more modern church, Emerick said.
Until that church is built, “Green Church” congregants are worshipping at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on Fourth Avenue between 74th Street and Bay Ridge Parkway.
But preservationists — including Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) — are hoping that the city’s disapproval might delay the demolition.
Gentile has been in negotiations with other developers who might be interested in purchasing the plot and saving the emerald-hued church, Gentile spokesman John Buckholz said.
“He is pleased with this recent development,” Buckholz said. “The rejection of the plans just buys him some more time to continue the conversations he has been having.”