The Landmarks Conservancy opposed the demolition of West-Park Presbyterian Church in testimony before the Landmarks Preservation Commission. We agree that the building needs significant restoration. But we question some of the $50 million costs cited by the applicant. And we know the work could be phased over time, not done all at once, as the church maintains.
We have a long history with this Upper West Side landmark. Through the years, we helped raise money, provided grant funding, commissioned different studies of building needs, and secured contractor and grant proposals for various projects. We have met and advised potential tenants. We have been open to redevelopment plans, air rights sales, or the sale of the building to a new congregation. Unfortunately, the church never mounted a major fundraising campaign and refused to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which would have opened potential funding sources. The non-profit that has been renting space in the church had modest fundraising success but was hampered because they didn’t own the building.
We work with congregations throughout the City that face large building costs. We submitted letters from five congregations who embraced their landmark buildings and successfully phased repairs.
West-Park Presbyterian is a Romanesque Revival beauty, too important to the community and the City to be lost. It deserves a chance for a new owner committed to a long-term plan and a new vision.