Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No separation of church and estate! W’burg chapel to convert to housing

Let there be housing!

The developers who bought a Williamsburg church last month will convert the N. Sixth Street worship site into housing but promised not to raze the chapel building.

The Brooklyn Diocese sold St. Vincent De Paul Church and an adjacent school building on the lot for $13.7 million to developers Yechial Michael Lichtenstein, Yoel Goldman, and Joel Gluck, who took out a $9-million loan to help purchase the property four days before Christmas.

Lichtenstein’s lawyer, Y. David Scharf, said the new owners planned to develop housing inside the existing structures on the lot but would not say how many units would be added or whether they would be condominiums or rentals.

The Diocese had been trying to unload the deteriorating church complex since last April, when Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio signed off a series of church mergers to save money.

It would have cost about $4 million to renovate the church, whose walls had several cracks and a tree was growing in its belfry.

“There was so much damage to the building, I couldn’t afford to repair or sustain the building much longer,” said Our Lady of Mount Carmel pastor Joseph Calise, who recommended the Diocese sell the building.

When the church found a buyer, it began removing consecrated items from the church — including its pews, altar and a 2,977-pound, 130-year-old bronze bell blessed by the borough’s first Catholic bishop, Rev. John Loughlin.

The three-story church served the neighborhood’s Irish immigrants since the end of the Civil War, but its population dwindled in the latter half of the 20th century.

The Diocese closed the church 2005 and its remaining parishioners — a small group of Armenian Catholics — now worship at Blessed Virgin Mary of the Annunciation three blocks away on N. Fifth Street.