Community, Electeds Protest Out-of-Scale Luxury Condo Development

The Save 16th Street Coalition, community members, and elected officials rallied to protest the construction of a mid-block 11-story luxury building on West 16th Street that will engulf the historic French Evangelical Church, built in 1835.  Einhorn Development Group bought the lot for $4 million from the church and originally told the community the plan was to build a six-story building, equivalent in height to the rest of the historic block that promised to preserve the architectural integrity of the church and the charming tree-lined street.

EDG is now attempting to buy the air rights above the church to build a bluestone and glass tower that will envelop the historic church and cast a shadow over the surrounding buildings and neighborhood.

“Throughout New York City we have become all too familiar with the syndrome of ailing religious, educational, and cultural institutions seeking financial salvation by making deals with developers” said Lesley Doyel of Save Chelsea. “While this may be a solution in the short run, in the long run it is the developer who reaps a much greater and more enduring financial windfall.”  Justin Hoy added, “If this development goes forward, it will certainly set a dangerous precedent, inspiring a forest of mid-block towers, dwarfing the surrounding area, and ultimately destroying the very qualities which drew them here in the first place.”

“While the project is within the current zoning, it is drastically out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood. I urge the developer to reconsider and alter his plans,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Assembly Member Richard Gottfried added “No building on this block, except those facing the avenues, is currently higher than six stories. This is integral to the block’s character and appeal. The developer should be a good neighbor and consider making his building smaller.”

“We strongly urge Einhorn to rethink these plans, and to work with the local community to arrive at a plan that is more contextual to the surrounding neighborhood, said Councilmember Corey Johnson. “There is no law that says you have to build to the maximum allowed.  But being a good neighbor means you want to be a positive presence.”

“Understandably, the community is outraged. The encasement of this historic church in concrete would send a terrible message to neighbors and church members throughout the city that development and profit are winning over faith and community. We call on the Presbytery of NY — which has the power to stop this development  — to set a precedent that churches will work within their communities to raise needed funds instead of bringing in outside developers with an eye for profit only,” said Doug Halsey, speaking for the Save 16th Street Coalition.

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The Save 16th Street Coalition is working to persuade the Presbytery to stop the air rights sale, hold the Einhorn Development Group to its original construction plan, landmark the church, and set a precedent for neighborhoods throughout the city to curb out-of-scale developments.