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12 NYC churches are deconsecrated, paving the way for sale

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The parishes can now choose whether to sell, lease, or repurpose the properties

St. Benedict the Moor Church at 342 West 53rd Street is one of 12 NYC churches to be deconsecrated in late June.

The Catholic church has deconsecrated 12 churches in Manhattan and The Bronx, paving the way for their repurposing or sale. Deconsecrating a church means the building can then be used for secular purposes, but just how the newly unholy buildings will be used is left to the parishes, who own the individual properties. However, the archdiocese could tax the income of a sale to fund operations within other parts of the diocese, the New York Times says. DNAinfo first reported the action.

“Will some of them be sold? I imagine so,” Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, told the New York Times. “Will some of them be leased? I imagine so.”

And in New York City there’s a precedent for just that. The East Village’s Mary Help of Christians was sold to developer Douglas Steiner in 2012 and has since been demolished and replaced with pricey condos. Our Lady of Vilnius, at the mouth of the Holland Tunnel, was shuttered by the archdiocese in 2007 amid structural issues. Developer Extell purchased the property in 2014 for $13 million, and promptly flipped it for $18.4 million. The sale of a neighboring lot allowed Renzo Piano’s 565 Broome Soho, where condos start at just under $1 million, to rise.

Most of the twelve newly deconsecrated churches throughout Manhattan and The Bronx have been shuttered since 2015, when the Catholic church finished a major restructuring that resulted in the merging of more than 140 parishes and closing of about 40 churches. The June 30th decree to deconsecrate means that “negotiations that may lead to the sale of the property” can commence.

Only one of the deconsecrated churches is a New York City landmark, which will restrict changes made to the property: Harlem’s All Saints Church at 47 East 129th Street. The remaining deconsecrated churches throughout Manhattan and The Bronx are as follows:

  • Church of the Nativity at 44 Second Avenue
  • Most Holy Crucifix at 378 Broome Street (A real estate developer has already snatched this property up for $7 million.)
  • Church of Saint John the Martyr at 250 East 72nd Street
  • Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary at 211 East 83rd Street
  • Saint Lucy’s Church at 344 East 104th Street
  • Holy Rosary Church at 444 East 119th Street
  • Church of the Holy Agony at 1834 Third Avenue
  • Saint Gregory the Great Church at 144 West 90th Street
  • Saint Benedict the Moor Church at 342 West 53rd Street
  • Shrine Church of Saint Ann at 3519 Bainbridge Avenue
  • Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at 160 Van Cortlandt Park South

Six other churches outside of New York City were also deconsecrated in late June. See the full list here.