Historic Districts Council Supports Push To Landmark Flatbush Presbyterian Church

Flatbush Presbyterian Church on Foster and East 23rd in November of 2018. Liena Zagare/Bklyner
Flatbush Presbyterian Church on Foster and East 23rd in November of 2018. Liena Zagare/Bklyner

DITMAS PARK —  The Historic Districts Council (HDC) penned a “letter of love” on Valentine’s Day to support the efforts to landmark the Flatbush Presbyterian Church in Ditmas Park.

The letter of support comes after Respect Brooklyn, a group of concerned residents, filed an emergency request with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate the church at 423 East 23rd St. and Foster Avenue as an individual landmark. The nod of support came with details about the building architectural details and the importance of an LPC intervention in order to “adapt religious structures for new uses.”

HDC, a non-profit, has been advocating to ensure the preservation of neighborhoods throughout the city, according to their website.

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“Brooklyn at one point—when it was its own city—was called the city of churches because when you looked across the water from Manhattan the tallest thing you could see on the landscape were church steeples,” said Kelly Carroll, Director of Advocacy and Community Outreach at HDC.

Respect Brooklyn first announced they would seek individual landmark designation of the church in January after learning the storied past of the building and its celebrated architecture. This after Bklyner first reported the 120-year-old church was listed as a potential site for new housing.

The church dissolved on October 2, 2018.

An early sketch of Flatbush Presbyterian Church in Ditmas Park (Brooklyn Eagle 1897)

Colliers International, a Canadian acquisition and brokerage firm, listed the church as a potential development site. There’s an ongoing trend where churches – many times for 99 years – lease a portion of their property to be developed for housing, ranging from affordable to luxury. Preservation and historic advocates have seen an increase in the church-to-housing movement.

“Especially in New York, right now the real estate market is so hot that when a congregation gets into any type of financial troubles or when the congregation dwindles, there is an enormous temptation to divest that property,” Carroll said.

If the future developer incorporates a community facility – a church will qualify – they can potentially build out to 28,920 square feet. Flatbush Presbyterian Church at 475 Riverside Dr. owns the property, and the market value is assessed at $1,199,000.

You can read the letter of support from HDC to LPC here.

Flatbush Presbyterian Church… by on Scribd

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  1. This is racism in NYC.

    Our community is mostly black. Including the adjacent Victorian neighborhood of South Midwood, in fact 12/20 homeowners on the East 23rd block just south of this site are black. We’re all long lived (2 – 4 decades) residents and well to do on that side of Foster. We can afford to buy the church if we like as individuals or as a goof if we did it as a collective. The property is that cheap. Our houses are valued at 2mm+ and they want 1.1mm for the property. Anyone of us could pull out some equity and buy it without blinking. We don’t want it because the church has largely been used by outside groups that were hostile towards us for the last 3 decades.

    Imagine a 2000sq ft bungalow directly across the street from the church sitting on a plot 1/7th the size of the church’s is selling for 300k more. It speaks to the demand for this place. It’s non existent. But the white folks in Respect Brooklyn and the transplants that run HDC think they know best.

    And it’s not the first time we’ve been slighted by HDC/LPC judgments – we don’t have landmark status bc our neighborhood was deemed too black and not so special by them though none of Victorian Flatbush would exist if not for the builder of our neighborhood. The very idea of this sort of living wasn’t that of Dean Alvord’s, his development came 6 years after Vandeveer Park was nearing completion. The Germania Corp and Henry Meyer were the largest landowners and most prolific builder in Flatbush.

    Beyond the pretty architecture is a grand political story as to how NYC became the big consolidated city. Meyer, a failed mayoral candidate for the then city of Brooklyn, realized that he could do far more and have far more power if he moved his constituency into the towns of Flatlands, Flatbush, and Gravesend. Essentially, if successful he could guarantee that his new Republican arrivals would outvote and replace the incumbent Democratic farmers that long occupied these towns and ensure consolidation. The nice houses were the cherry on top. The real history is the political movement and the reality that if not for such building we may not have a consolidated city.

    But nah, blacks own it now so who cares – that’s HDC/LPC attitude, in the face of something far more historically important than Dean Alvord’s landscape design in Prospect Park South. They didn’t save the church on Ocean Ave that was in Ditmas Park proper, but they’re so interested in telling our neighborhood what to do – it’s no coincidence.

  2. Wow, that is a… confused diatribe. I live right there for many years, there are efforts to expand landmarking, this seems to be one of them. Although unlike “kc” I can’t buy the church for a mill or two, don’t have that money lke “kc”! Definitely many of us want it to be landmarked, the other congregations were nice to us and friendly and some locals attended.


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