Now, Rev. Robert Brashear and Council Member Gale Brewer are working to develop a proposal to raise enough cash to fix the crumbling exterior and allow church services to move back to the West 86th Street structure, at Amsterdam Avenue.
“The line that was constantly put out there was, allow it to get landmarked, we’ll review plans and we can move forward,” said Brashear, who called the Council’s decision disappointing. “Well, it’s landmarked.”
The landmark decision was a win for the preservation community and elected officials who wanted to protect the century-old Romanesque Revival-style church from developers. But Brashear saw the effort as an affront to the church’s autonomy and said the designation would make it even more difficult to find a development partner.
While both sides have the same goal of fixing the building so it can provide community services, Brashear says there is a narrow opportunity to deliver.
“By saving the exterior of the building you really like, [you might] lose heart and soul of a community,” Brashear said. “That would be very, very sad for everyone.”
Brewer, who was “delighted” by the landmark decision, said she will meet with congregants and church officials to devise a way to raise the money for the rehabilitation.
“I’m very conscious of [the church’s] mission, very conscious of the building and I’m conscious of the community,” Brewer said. “All of these groups need to be represented.”
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