Thursday, May 1, 2008


So this morning I'm standing outside of our synagogue on the corner of 81st and 4th and I overhear three women talking about how the synagogue is going to be torn down. Oh really?

I did a little investigative work and discovered that there has been talk for about 5 years to tear it down and put up condos. But talk could become a reality as inspectors are coming in today to do some preliminary work. Next week the synagogue board is having a meeting to discuss selling the building. It was a surprise to us, since we're members. When we asked if anything had been sent out to the members, we were told that letters only went out to board members. Oy.

Why not consider the synagogue for adaptive re-use?

Then I learned (and I also learned it's old news but I haven't really seen anything in the papers about it) that the Lutheran Church next door might be sold and torn down to make way for condos.

Of course there's the infamous Green Church, which will be torn and turned into condos.

And another church is up for sale at 6701 4th Avenue, to be torn down to make way for -- all together now -- condos.

Don't forget the condos going up where the old funeral home was at 76th and 4th and the luxury condos at 10002 4th street.

So what the hell is anybody doing about all of this? Is it okay that developers are coming in and tearing down churches, synagogues, and anything else they can get their hands on to build condos? What is the Bay Ridge Community Council doing about it? What is the secretive Bay Ridge Conservancy doing about it? (Try googling Bay Ridge Conservancy and see if you can come up with a website or a contact number. I couldn't. If you can please leave a comment with the link).

UPDATE: Here's the link. Thank you Anon!

Has all of the preservation energy been on the Green Church and not on the community? Will a group of preservationists bang pots outside the synagogue after it's too late to do anything?

You know how to get people involved? Spread the rumor that a cellphone tower will be placed on top of the new condo building. Hell, why not on all of them. That's what I'm starting here and now. Cellphone towers will be going up on every new condo building in Bay Ridge.

I think I'm going to start my own preservation group and call it Over-Development or Respect, or ODOR.

So here's how I envision life here in Heathenville a few years from now:

4th Avenue will be renamed the Blvd of Condos, only no one from here will be able to afford the condos because of the mortgage crisis. All of the condos will be owned by millionaires from Dubai, who got priced out of Manhattan by billionaires from Dubai.

No one will go to a religious service because there won't be any more churches, etc. We'll all have to park our cars in Staten Island because no one thought about what the impact would be on parking by adding condo building after condo building and not addressing infrastructure.

The toll to get into Staten Island by then will be about $48.00, so we'll all just leave our cars there.

We'll have to take the Staten Island Ferry into Manhattan, and since there will be no grocery stores in the Ridge, we'll pick up some food in Manhattan. But the cost of food in Manhattan will be too much so we'll take the subway into Brooklyn. But food prices overall will be so high we'll only be able to afford a loaf of bread and we'll pray fiercely that it's free scoop day at Ben and Jerry's, only it will never be free scoop day again because God will not answer our prayers because we've all stopped worshipping him.

Since we're a NORC, none of us will want to deal with the subway stairs so we'll take the B63 bus, which is the slowest bus in all of Brooklyn. It'll get us home by the following morning, just in time for us to home school our kids, because no one thought about what the impact would be on our already overcrowded schools by adding condo building after condo building.

So all in all it'll be some sweet living here in the Ridge.

Rover has more about the monopoly.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You very neatly wrapped all that's wrong with the Ridge, LOL.

Rob K said...

Brooklyn used to be called "the borough of churches."

"Borough of condos" just doesn't have the same--or sane--ring to it.

Great post, btw--informative and entertaining, even when the news is pretty dismal.

Anonymous said...

This was to be expected in an area that has lost it's Judeo-Christian identity.

Anonymous said...

let's hope the church is spared, looks like a nice building. The temple's architecture never appealed to me, but it would be a shame to lose the congregation.

Anonymous said...

"Since we're a NORC. . .we'll take the B63 bus. . . . It'll get us home by the following morning, just in time for us to home school our kids. . ."

Just how many years of home schooling are needed by our kids? I should think that home schooling would be long finished by the time one retires.

Mark said...

I said NORC, not impotent.

Anonymous said...


Mark said...

Retired doesn't equal impotence.

Anonymous said...

ok, I think it is time we stop sitting by the sidelines watching the game and start strategizing about how to expand the preservationist movement beyond the Green Church activity. I am not necessarily against the building of condos but before these developments consume and obliterate the historic fabric of the community, we need to figure out how to get the community involved in the development process. What are your suggestions? Should we start a new preservation group or figure out how to re-energize the ones that currently exist?

Your neighbor

Mark said...


I think a new preservation group is a great idea.


Anonymous said...


Great post.

I'm of the opinion that the preservationist group that presently exists is totally and completely beyond repair.

The BRCC, of which this current preservation group has affiliated itself with -- as it exists today-- stakes their reputation on being behind basically every losing cause known to Bay Ridge. From 'protesting' the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, to replacing the Gowanus Expressway with a tunnel.

Next thing they'll want to do is launch a Bay Ridge international space station out of household appliances.

I'm sorry, but these people are not grounded in reality and need to stick to what they do best, which is community centric volunteer work.

I'm a big fan of Queens Councilman Avella's proposal to put some kind of oversight authority re: development, back in the hands of local community boards. To give them some teeth, and actually hold people, and community's accountable for the decisions made vis a vis development.

Barring that, we need Bay Ridge Preservation movement with some legs to it, as either part of the Community Board, or as an independent enterprise, not just thrown together in a box with a hundred or so other civic groups, but a strong brand, with close relationships to the community local politicians who can prove themselves capable of staying on point, and following through with thoughtful intelligent arguments in a reasonable public forum. .

This means credible, and sane participants. Not lunatics running around pulling public elations stunts.

Whatever group succeeds this current mess we call preservationists, they need to distance themselves as far as possible from BRCC, and this current lot of crackpots.

I suggest we use Mark's blog as a starting off point, from which we can get names of people who would meet as an exploratory effort, exchange ideas and discuss this further.

Anonymous said...

Churches are not "private property". They are public institutions governed by the State Religious Corporations Law and the Not-for-Profit Corporations Law, overseen by the State Attorney General, and regulated by the State Supreme Court, notwithstanding the loophole that barred the State's Attorney from the King's County Supreme Court when the BRUMC, one of a handful of "most-favored churches" in New York State, got an ex parte order authorizing the sale of the Green Church.

Yes, you heard that right: an elite group of churches, including the Catholic Church and the UMC, can legally shut the courthouse door against the Attorney General.

When aging, dwindling congregations, holding some of the last prime development parcels in New York City, are being sweated by realtors and developers like hot teenaged girls, that loophole in the Religious Corporations Law needs to be closed, now. The Attorney General must have the right to appear and represent the people of the State of New York when any church in New York State wants to sell off all of its real estate.

"Separation of church and state" refers only to two things: the establishment and the free exercise of religion. You have the right to establish your own church and to worship your own God. That's religion, not commerce.

Some choose to worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and that's OK, here in America.

Anonymous said...

This Kip is out of control.

Kip wants civil authority to trump ecclesiastical liberty.

Kip's way of thinking is very dangerous and obviously ignorant or indifferent to the lessons of history.

Kip, it appears, would fit in well in Revolutionary France or Mexico during the anti-clerical purges.

In fact, the Lieutenant in Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory" comes to mind. - Lieutenant, thy name is Kip.

Bay Ridge Convert said...

Kip is spot on.

I hate to break the news to you but congregations are leaving or dying out all over the world.
So let's keep all the empty houses of worship standing as monuments to the age of reason in Americia.
And I am really tired of hearing about the poor presecuted religous majority.

Carbo Diem my friends.

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