LAST YEAR developer Abe Betesh signed a contract in which he agreed to pay $9.75 million to buy the prime property on which the Bay Ridge Methodist Church (known locally as the Green Church because of its lovely green ashlar construction) had operated since it was built in 1901.

 

BEFORE Betesh could put together plans and gather the money to close the sale and erect middle to upper middle-income condominiums at the Ovington and Fourth Ave. site, the real estate economy went into crisis mode. As the sad tale is now widely known, Methodist Pastor Robert Emerick and his principals kept their part of the bargain under the contract and razed the beautiful, historic structure.

 

 IN TRUTH, they had little choice, since maintaining the striking, aged structure would have been financially impossible for a congregation which has shrunk from a thousand back in the days of Pastor Austin Armitstead–the 1960’s and 1970’s–to a hardy group of 40 or 50 at most who attended Sunday services there. 

NOW, it seems, the School Construction Authority may be coming to the rescue of buyer and seller with a proposal to build an elementary school seating over 600 pupils.

RELIABLE SOURCES report that the SCA has been looking at the Green Church location for almost four years, but its planning people didn’t want to make an offer against private developers like Betesh who were willing to pay top dollar.

NEARBY residents, including this writer, are pretty happy thus far with the SCA proposal. The once historic property is now nothing more than a rock-strewn lot with a teetering blue wooden fence.

I SPOKE at the Community Board 10 Open Meeting regarding the matter on January 26 and will comment about the meeting in an upcoming post.

 

The Green Church As It Was

The Green Church As It Was

 

 

 

THE “GREEN CHURCH is truly no more.

 

IT’S an historic tragedy that the beautiful, 109-year-old Bay Ridge United Methodist Church has been destroyed and the corner of Ovington and Fourth Avenues looks eerily like an abandoned lot.

 

NOW, IN a true sign of the times, there’s now a huge red, white and blue billboard painted message there announcing it is For Sale or Lease.

 

THIS IS not good news.  It just underscores the sad fact that developer Abe Betesh, who signed a contract to purchase the prime piece of real estate for $9.75 million last year, has been unable to assemble the money needed to build middle and upper income cooperative apartments there.

 

WITH THE real estate market on shaky ground now, there’s a good chance that the vacant lot might remain so for some time.  Let’s hope not.  Those of us who live nearby and walk along Fourth and Ovington every day hardly need such a negative reminder.

 

MEANTIME, however, now that the serpentine-stone church has crumbled, it is important to the community-at-large that certain  people stop pointing fingers at the pastor, the congregation or anyone else who didn’t agree with them on how the key corner property should be used.

 

ASKING a small body of older-aged congregants to devote their lives and their funds to maintain a church as a shrine to days gone by was asking far too much.

 

PERHAPS church leaders could have listened better to those screaming for preservation.  Perhaps those seeking to preserve the structure could have been less shrill, perhaps less political.

 

ABE BETESH probably thought he was getting a great bargain when he signed the contract to buy the property last summer. The developer is probably not a popular person locally but there are many rooting for him to come up with the backers and the funds to put in an acceptable structure where the “Green Church” stood for so long.

 

    PHOTO COURTESY FORGOTTEN NY