Following months of advocacy, legal plight and speculation activists in Greenpoint are preparing for victory after the sale of Park Church Co-Op was halted by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.
Last summer, the Metropolitan New York Synod — the local Lutheran governing body — closed the church after “careful evaluation” by due to declining attendance and structural concerns about the building. The building was slated to be sold to private developers GW Equities LLC, sparking controversy in the community.
However, neighbors and advocates rallied to save the church, which they said served as more than a place of worship— but as a vibrant community space used as a soup kitchen, temporary homeless shelter, affordable day care center, theater and more.
Residents most recently appealed to a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge during a public hearing as the sale of religious and non profit organizations must first be approved by state judge or attorney general.
Now, it seems that these latest efforts were successful as the building sale has been paused, and local activists are now crowdfunding capital in partnership with the New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative to purchase the building, with plans into a flourishing community space run by a new community organization, CommonPlace.NYC.
CommonPlace aims to restore the building to its former glory and provide numerous services for the Greenpoint area with the new community center.
“CommonPlace is pioneering a model for collective, community-based investment and development that centers neighborhood concerns, enshrines public space, and empowers local communities,” CommonPlace representative Jamie Hook said in a statement on Wednesday. “We won’t let outside developers take our community space away from us and turn it into luxury condos for the rich. We’re going to win this fight, and when we do, the result will be a more equitable development model for New York City.”
So far, the group has managed to raise $300,000, nearly a quarter of their goal of $1.25 million by the end of the year.
“By raising funds directly from the community, the NYC REIC puts the power of the people firmly in the drivers’ seat,” said NYC REIC board member David Glick. “Our vision for cooperatively financed development is ideally matched to this project, preserving a beloved local landmark as public space, serving the people of Greenpoint as opposed to outside real-estate interests.”
So far, CommonPlace has secured a number of influential supporters alongside their donation pledges including the North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, Brooklyn’s Community Board 1, Broadway Stages, Friends of McGolrick Park, and local elected officials Council Member Lincoln Restler and Assembly Member Emily Gallagher.
“Our neighborhood has been losing community spaces at a rapid pace,” Gallagher said in a statement. “We can’t allow the beloved Park Church to be knocked down for a couple ultra-luxury condos. CommonPlace is the answer.”
With only a few more weeks to reach their pledge goal CommonPlace are seeking more investors to actualize their plans for an inclusive and collectively owned investment space for the community.
“With this unlikely project, we now have the rare opportunity to invest in ourselves,” Hook said. “But we are gonna need everyone to participate. After all, that is how common places are created — indeed, it’s how the Park Church first came to be, over 120 years ago.”