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For Churches, a Temptation to Sell


Besides informing churches about grant opportunities and offering them work space in Brooklyn Borough Hall, the office also invests in faith-based development projects, Mr. Monrose said.

“We’re still the Borough of Churches,” he said.

Conversions in Queens

After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints outgrew its two-story column-fronted chapel in the Murray Hill section of Queens, near Flushing, it sought to build a soaring new facility on a residential block in nearby Linden Hill.

Despite some local opposition to the construction of a church building on a street lined with houses, the city granted a zoning variance for the new chapel, which has a 92-foot steeple and which claimed three houses in order to be built.

Rong Xin Realty, meanwhile, bought the old site for $27 million in 2018, where it is building Flushing Garden Condominiums, an eight-story project with 131 one- to two-bedrooms, about half of which have balconies. Sales will start next year at the market-rate building, which hopes to sell apartments for around $1,000 a square foot, said Benny Chen, a Rong Xin principal. The condo will open in 2021. “We got the last spot in Flushing,” Mr. Chen said.

Good deeds were on the mind of the leaders of the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica, which has partnered with the Bluestone Organization, a for-profit developer, on a 12-story, 174-unit affordable tower on a former church parking lot.

Called the Tree of Life, the $74-million mid-rise will have studios to three-bedrooms, and feature solar panels and a roof deck, plus job training facilities for the public. Individuals with incomes as low as $32,000 can qualify to live at the project, which opens next summer.

“We had the sense we could do more for the community,” said the Rev. Patrick O’Connor, who heads a 500-member church that has continuously operated in Jamaica since 1662 and which currently offers a soup kitchen, recovery services and health screenings.


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