Citing a decrease in membership, the Mill Basin American Legion Hall has sold their Avenue N outpost to a Brooklyn-based Christian ministry, according to the organization’s head.
“We downsized because at one time we almost had 1,000 veterans at the post, and now we are down to 185 members,” said Andrew Affrunti, the commander of the Floyd Bennett American Legion Post 1060. “We don’t need all of that room and the maintenance was becoming too much work.”
The Salvation Church of God, a Christian church with nearly 1,000 congregants that first opened in Brooklyn in September 2016, purchased the space near E. 56th Street to use for both church services and as their new administrative office — which will move from their current leased space in Flatbush, according to the church’s secretary.
“Our congregation is growing, so the next best move to was to obtain a new property,” said Rose Francois. “We will be moving permanently to the new location on Avenue N.”
Sales talks had been in the works for several months, and the property officially changed hands late last year, and the religious organization plans to embark on a two-phase construction project — first to build a temporary sanctuary and a main ballroom, and later to construct a permanent sanctuary, Francoise said.
“We have a long term plan of construction and hopefully within the next three to five years, people will like what they see,” she said.
The religious institution jumped at the chance to purchase the new digs for use as new principal location because of its accessibility to the highway and other forms of transportation, and because they found the neighborhood safe, which Francoise said was of utmost importance to them.
“Sometimes we come out of services late,” she said. “And we were looking for a safe neighborhood for our congregants.”
Meanwhile, Affrunti and his fellow veterans — who have gone a year without a physical location — had hoped to open a new outpost at 2178 Flatbush Ave. in February, but nearly $50,000 in unexpected repairs has left those plans in flux.
“We decided to sell the building and bought a smaller building,” said Affrunti. “We thought we wouldn’t have to pay anything for renovations — but the boiler doesn’t work and there’s a leak.”
But those costly renovations are just the latest in a series of obstacles preventing the American Legion from opening on Flatbush Avenue — including a months-long stretch without gas service resulting from a National Grid moratorium on new customers.
In May, the British-based utility company announced a halt on natural gas hookups shortly after state regulators nixed a plan to construct a controversial 23-mile gas pipeline off the coast of Coney Island.
The six-month moratorium continued through November when Governor Andrew Cuomo struck up a deal — despite threatening to strip the gas company of its state-granted monopoly status— for the gas company to resume connecting new and old customers to gas service.
“With having had no heat, with everything seeming to have to be repaired,” said Affrunti. “We postponed opening the post officially until we have everything in order.”