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Dupont church ruins may become new housing and a new church

In August 1970, an arsonist poured 12 gallons of gasoline on the Gothic 71-year-old St. Thomas Parish at 18th and Church streets in Dupont Circle. The building burned in minutes. Soon, only the parish hall, some ruins around the altar, and a single stone gable pointing to the sky remained.

Soon, that spot could become part of a new church and an apartment or condominium building.

Left: The 1899 building. Right: Concept design for a new church. All images from St. Thomas unless otherwise noted.

After the fire, most of the original building became a small park, and in fits and starts, the Episcopal congregation there worked to rebuild. They converted the 1922 parish hall behind the church into worship space and have used it since. But there's no way for a person in a wheelchair to reach the sanctuary, nor a casket for a funeral. Nor is there enough space for other programs.

From 2007 to 2012, Matthew Jarvis, a young architect and parishioner, designed a new church on the site of the old one. It was a modest, low building compared to the 120-foot-tall original. A roof with 12 triangular skylights would envelope the gable at one end and taper down to a two-story stone fašade on 18th Street.

A rendering of Jarvis' proposal.

The church looks to private development

But the parish and the diocese, which in the Episcopal Church controls the property, concluded that they couldn't afford to build and maintain this larger building. After long discussions with church members, they decided that the only way to be able to afford a new building was to partner with a developer, who would construct a residential building on part of the property, raising money for the church.

Working with Michael Foster of MTFA Architecture, the congregation created this draft design. Personally, I find grand religious architecture more compelling than the subdued design of the last attempt. It also better matches the other buildings along 18th Street, most of which are at least 4 stories and some rise as high as 9.

Meanwhile, a 70-foot residential building with 6 or 7 floors would face Church Street. (Disclosure: I live on this block, and can see the church from my window.) After receiving proposals from several developers, the congregation chose CAS Riegler, a firm based in Shaw, to design the residential building as well as to develop two vacant townhouse lots on P Street the church now uses for parking.

Some decisions are open for discussion, some are not

At a community meeting Wednesday night, church officials, Foster, and Kevin Riegler from CAS Riegler, emphasized that the process was still very young. Unfortunately, the meeting started out somewhat disorganized. A planned slide presentation about the church's overall plan for the site didn't materialize because of technical difficulties.

Some residents felt "surprised" that the church had already made a number of decisions with MTFA in writing their request for proposals: they will place the religious building on the 18th Street side of the property and the main residential building on Church Street; they want to demolish most of the parish hall; and there will be 15 parking spaces for the church and 41 for the residential building.

Foster never came right out and revealed these facts, which only came up because some residents had gotten a look at the RFP. It took a few questions from residents to clarify that Riegler was only responsible for the residential building and that the church's plan was largely not open for discussion.

Riegler emphasized his firm had only come on board 11 days prior and the residential building was "a blank slate." While he was laudably bringing in community members now in an effort to get input on the ground floor, many decisions about the site had already been settled before he was involved.

Residents worry about density and losing the park

"You've grieved for the loss of your church for 40 years," said one resident at the often-acrimonious meeting. "Now we have to grieve for the loss of our park." The park will no longer be public open space, though Riegler noted that with Dupont Circle one block west, there is already a good amount of space, and he didn't even mention Stead Park one block to the east.

Others, including some who had supported the church's earlier plan to build on the park, felt the building was too tall. Riegler pointed out that a 70 foot building, which is what zoning allows, is shorter than the 90-foot-tall building at 18th and P (or Massachusetts) which until recently housed the National Trust for Historic Preservation, or the also 90-foot apartment buildings on the corner of 17th and Church, at the opposite end of the block.

I personally would like to see the site accommodate as much new housing as possible, given that DC desperately needs to build 41,000 to 105,000 new homes over 20 years in order to house all of the people, at all of the income levels, who want to move to or stay in the District. But to many, the idea of what could be 58 new housing units represents a big change.

A number of residents argued that the church is not fulfilling its godly mission by partnering with a developer in a transaction that was mostly about dollars. "Is it the church's mission to build 58 condos? That's a paltry mission," one resident said. "We don't need more apartments, we don't need more autos," said another who had just moved to Dupont Circle when the church burned in 1970.

Yet another nearby resident asked why the congregation had to stay on the site at all. "Why don't you guys move? Find another facility" and donate the land to a different nonprofit, she suggested. ANC Commission Leo Dwyer argued that the church has been a treasured neighbor, letting a local LGBT congregation meet there and hosting health groups, not to mention serving as a polling place (at least for now; the DC Board of Elections plans to move and consolidate polling places).

Still, over the course of the meeting many people (including myself to some degree) grew a little more comfortable with some details that had been worrisome. Maybe some of these resemble the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. The conversation starts with claims that the community wasn't involved, then moves to arguments that a building is too intrusive, and works its way to a discussion about what neighbors can constructively get in the design to maximize their quality of life within the constraints of zoning, property rights, and fairness.

What will be preserved?

A lot of questions remain. Chief among them is what will happen to the stone fašade of the parish hall, which certainly merits historic preservation, and the gable and ruins, which do so even more. While the new design for a church on 18th Street is impressive, it might have been easier to preserve more of the old church by building the new church where the old church elements are instead of on the other end of the property.

Photo by A.Currell on Flickr.

I asked Ryan Winfield, chair of the church's Building Committee, who said they didn't want the church to be hidden away behind other buildings. It once had a grand entrance on 18th Street, and they'd like it to again, he said. A lot of people don't even know it's there now, and assume it's just a completely abandoned site. Plus, they'd like to make reference to the past but also move beyond it after spending 40 years literally in its shadow.

Still, there are countervailing forces between a congregation that wants to design the best site from their point of view, neighbors who might prefer the slightly lower church to be adjacent to their homes, and preservation laws that give historic architectural elements, as this most certainly is, a special legal status.

Riegler promised another meeting in a few weeks to present their early designs for the residential buildings. He and his architectural partner for the residential building, Hickok Cole, will have to find a way to design something that preserves, incorporates, and references old elements while also being very much new.

Ultimately, the church has the right to build on their vacant property, and as long as it's "historically compatible," Riegler has the right to build a 70-foot residential building. For residents who don't want any building here, in particular, this process may require moving through the grieving process to accept that the park will go away, and then working to push for the most attractive design possible.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Dear God. They're whining about losing a park while being a block away from Dupont Circle? The church should build a smaller facility that they can maintain and fill, and use the rest of the land to add housing. If there's discomfort with the idea that things cost money, even for churches, you know what the church could do to make it more compatible with their mission? Insist that most of those units, or at least a large chunk, be affordable.

This city need a lot more housing. The church needs a new building. I don't see how this proposal is anything but a win win.

by Zeus on Feb 27, 2014 11:17 am • linkreport

I live steps away from this site, and enjoy the park, but the site is very clearly marked with signs as the site of the old church, and (I believe) the signs indicate the church's hope to rebuild some day. So while I enjoy the park, I don't feel any sort of disgruntled entitlement about seeing it go away. And our neighborhood (and city!) could certainly use more housing... I haven't looked at the details beyond what David writes here, but it seems quite reasonable to me.

by Aimee Custis on Feb 27, 2014 11:22 am • linkreport

Funny that we are tearing down the brutalist church on 16th and replacing it here with something even uglier.

by charlie on Feb 27, 2014 11:32 am • linkreport

@ charlie
How can you get uglier than ugly personified?

by dawh on Feb 27, 2014 11:37 am • linkreport

I live three block away from the church and find this to be a very reasonable proposal. Sure, it is a lovely open space, but as noted we do have the Circle and Stead Park nearby. Plus, I would love for the parking lot on P Street to be gone; that is truly an unsightly gash in the streetscape.

by That Guy in DC on Feb 27, 2014 11:38 am • linkreport

looks like a good plan. It would be truly in keeping with the mission of a church if they included some affordable units (even if they had to build one floor higher or a little denser to make the financials work).

by sbc on Feb 27, 2014 11:46 am • linkreport

"Now we have to grieve for the loss of our park."

Unless he's a member of the church, it's not his park to lose. I like the park and wish it would stay... simple solution would be for a group of neighbors to buy it and establish it as a trust, just like Stead Park.

Failing that option, if the plot is to be developed, it should be done so to the full extent allowed under zoning.

by Adam L on Feb 27, 2014 12:11 pm • linkreport

sbc: The project will have affordable housing as required by inclusionary zoning, but not more than that, according to the folks at the meeting. The church basically needed to maximize the value of the part of the land they are selling to afford a church on the part they are keeping.

by David Alpert on Feb 27, 2014 12:18 pm • linkreport

Grieving the loss of the park? Really? Have any of those people spent any time in that park? It's usually full of homeless people and it's very unwelcoming, when compared to several of the other urban parks within a short walking distance.

People are ridiculous! What we need is more affordable housing and the church needs a new home.

Now, don't even get me started on the fact that churches are exempt from real estate and other taxes. Maybe the church should be grateful to have any space at all.

by LuvDusty on Feb 27, 2014 12:28 pm • linkreport

David, I was under the impression that this will not be a by-right project. If that's the case, what variances will the church/developer be seeking?

Also, will the residential parking being accessed off of 18th or Church? If neighbors are concerned about traffic impacts from parking ingress/egress, then it might make sense to encourage the developer to seek a variance and limit the number of off-street spaces being provided -- with the community's support -- while prohibiting new residents from getting RPPs.

I'm sympathetic to your long-time resident neighbors. It no doubt sucks to lose a park that you've grown accustomed to over the decades. As has been said, though, you can't dictate that the church continue to use its property as public space.

Like many long-time urban congregations, they are probably under financial pressure. They clearly have a need for a new facility. It seems to me that an appropriately-scaled development on church property where the developer agrees to fund a new church building -- as with Third Church -- is proper in this case.

by Patrick Kennedy on Feb 27, 2014 12:42 pm • linkreport

Petrick: They haven't designed it yet, so we don't know if they will want variances. The RFP asked for a developer to build something of a certain size which is by right. They could design something by right, or they could design something with some adjustments that requires some variances in an way that they feel, and hope the community will feel, makes for a better project than the by-right default.

Certainly it will have to go through historic review no matter what, but that might be it or it might not.

As for the parking, I did bring that up. The problem is that most of the people in the room want more parking (or fewer residents). So asking for less parking seems like a fight they won't want to pick, and that won't be a strong community consensus thing to ask for. If anything, it could be the opposite and I would oppose adding more parking.

by David Alpert on Feb 27, 2014 2:26 pm • linkreport

There's a lot of difference between "6 or 7 stories". If it's 7 or more it will have to be solid concrete with a deep excavation underneath and will take 2 years. (That's 2 years of construction hell for Church Street).

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 27, 2014 2:59 pm • linkreport

What he said was it's 70 feet either way but might have 6 internal floors or 7. Do more floors mean more construction (more weight etc.) or is it about the height?

by David Alpert on Feb 27, 2014 3:05 pm • linkreport

I was also at the meeting last night -- frustrating to see all the vitriol from the community and so many people not acting as civilized adults. The current masterplan keeps the church on the site with a new facility to provide more programs to more people and the community, and adds a condo building. While the neighbors don't want a new condo development on one portion of the site on their street, they fail to see that the diocese could sell the ENTIRE property leaving the whole site for an even larger development, and no church building with no spaces or programs available to the public. There is a process ahead between the community, church, developer, and architect and with reviews and approvals needed from HPRB which will hopefully bring about a thoughtful project and excellent design.

by sansserif on Feb 27, 2014 3:17 pm • linkreport

@David Alpert:
Generally, you can build 5-6 stories as stick-built (often with a concrete base floor.

Above 6 stories, you need to use steel and concrete.

As a result, you generally don't see residential buildings in the 7-10 story range. Because you need more development to offset the cost of more expensive building materials.

So a 6 story building might cost $X per floor. A 7 story building will cost $X * Y per floor. And the additional cost of the first 6 stories isn't offset by what you can make off the marginal 7th floor.

So I suspect if this is a building capped at 70 feet, it will be stick built. There's probably not enough margin to warrant an additional floor. Generally, the rule for estimating building height is 10' per floor + 10 additional feet for the base.

So a 70' building is likely to be a 6 story building.

by Matt' Johnson on Feb 27, 2014 3:37 pm • linkreport

@LuvDusty -- When I visit the neighborhood, I often sit in that park in the afternoons and find it delightful. DuPont Circle is also fine but very different: large and grand. Stead "park" is largely treeless and seems much more like a playing field.

I would be sorry to see this charming little space replaced by a condo-box.

by Willow on Feb 27, 2014 3:49 pm • linkreport

Matt- That's the same "70 feet" as was next to my house and we got a 7 story with "roof addition" (additional story). That's how we learned the hard way how much worse an effect buildings over 6 stories have. Evidently there's enough profit from additional floors to make it worthwhile in some areas.

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 27, 2014 3:51 pm • linkreport

Good point Tom, he could be saying 70 feet and mean 70 feet plus "mechanical penthouse."

by David Alpert on Feb 27, 2014 4:06 pm • linkreport

I am more of a fan of traditional style churches but this sounds like a very logical proposal. I hope it lets the church rebuild.

by BTA on Feb 27, 2014 4:49 pm • linkreport

I'm not sure the proposed church is any more grand than Jarvis's. It was a little severe for my taste, but it looked like it would have made a distinctive presence on 18th street.

On the other hand, the density is good. If the new design had a more powerful door, it bet could have the same street presence.

by Neil Flanagan on Feb 27, 2014 5:56 pm • linkreport

As long as they are structurally sound, it might be nice to see some of the old stone blocks incorporated into either the new church or the housing building. Kind of a nod to old the aesthetic.

Also, it looks like the new church design has a third/fourth story open deck. I hope there will be some opportunity to hold community events up there.

by Tom Amfivolia on Feb 27, 2014 6:00 pm • linkreport

The zoning there used to allow 90 feet which is why a couple buildings are that. About 10 to 15 years ago several downzonings took the area to a 70 foot limit.

I can understand how the lower church might seem more compatible with the rowhouses on Church while the tall building would be more suitable for 18th. If a church has to depend on a building on a main street to achieve recognition there's a problem. St. Thomas will probably reconsider.

If it is a concrete building the ramp to the garage in the alley will become the construction staging site. The worst months will be when the pyle driving or boring takes place.

After it's finished the worst aspect will be the dumpster emptying in the alley at the loading dock. Mine is 4 dumpsters emptied 3 times a day because of the cafes. What urban America needs most is a good plastic dumpster

by Tom Coumaris on Feb 27, 2014 10:21 pm • linkreport

The church should sell the whole lot to the developer who will build the biggest, boxiest by-right building possible, and thumb their noses at these ridiculous "good neighbors".

by Mike on Feb 28, 2014 7:10 am • linkreport

I am amazed at people who think they have a right to dictate how private owners (in this case the church) will use their property to best suit their purposes. I see this going on out in Reston where people are outraged at the potential loss of "their" golf course (Reston National). Ummm ... if you don't own it, it's not yours! It is NICE when community opinions are sought, and it's good when legal and historical issues are included in the design, but ultimately, this private owner can do what they want with their property, assuming the new building complies with legal requirements.

by Amazed at Arrogance on Feb 28, 2014 8:17 am • linkreport

[This comment has been deleted for violating the comment policy.]

by Jasper on Mar 1, 2014 1:12 pm • linkreport

"Is it the church's mission to build 58 condos? That's a paltry mission,"

you know what the church could do to make it more compatible with their mission? Insist that most of those units, or at least a large chunk, be affordable.

That would be fantastic (though, as David indicates, incompatible with the purpose of raising funds). I imagine that this outcome would not go over well with most of the nearby residents, even the ones complaining about the Church's mission. It would be like, if you'll forgive the expression, a fart in church.

by dcd on Mar 1, 2014 3:10 pm • linkreport

This article is an unfair characterization of what happened at the ANC meeting. The concerns of the neighborhood are absolutely legitimate and the overwhelming sentiment at the meeting was that the church is not doing right by the neighborhood. Yes, some residents were angry--justifiably so--but most were just shocked that such a beloved institution would betray the neighborhood in this way and wanted to find another solution. The meeting attendees did NOT warm to the idea as the meeting dragged on.

The church does not need to sell its soul to developers who will increase parking problems, create noise and safety issues, build something that does not fit with the neighborhood (wouldn't anyone be angry that suddenly seven floors of condominiums are taking the place of an historic structure?), and yes, ruin a wonderful green space. Instead, it can work with the neighborhood (something it hasn't done to this point) to raise the funds to rebuild the church. We'd love to help make something work. There is still a chance to find a win-win.

by N.B. on Mar 1, 2014 10:59 pm • linkreport

I am not sure what the church owes to the neighborhood. If it had been able to rebuild in the early 1970's, there wouldn't be any kind of discussion at all.

This is a relatively modest proposal that as was already characterized a 'win-win." Silly to think that people feel entitled to the property of another.

by William on Mar 2, 2014 8:48 am • linkreport

I don’t buy the idea that the church is private and can do what it darn pleases with the property. The church is a nonprofit, and given that status because of the social benefits it offers to the community, not to mention the values it espouses, such as loving thy neighbor and personal sacrifice in pursuit of a larger good. The church has been dithering for decades over this property and they should have sold it and repurposed the parish for another socially beneficial cause long ago.

What Dave didn’t mention in his otherwise excellent précis are two key admissions voiced by church officials when pressed for reasons why church members did not elect to merge with some of the 35 other parishes nearby. The first admission, given by Ryan Winfield, their building committee chair, is that there are two “vibrant parishes nearby.” The second, spoken by the minister of the church is that her members “just don’t get along” with the other parishes. Again, one wonders why the diocese didn’t step in years ago to help mediate between their parishes and merge this very small group (150-ish I hear) with other thriving parishes. Isn’t mediation and understanding ‘the other’ their business?

Instead what we have is essentially a failed franchise that has made a Faustian bargain with developers to keep their separate parish, while breaking the implicit bond of trust in their mission and goodwill with the community in which they reside. There is no stronger proof of their sense of spiritual uncleanliness than the hermetic and secretive way in which they have proceeded, first with a failed attempt at a larger structure (some would say because their connection to the community is so weak) and secondly with the quiet employment of architects and land-use lawyers and even the selection of a developer, the former for so many months (more than a year?) before springing it on the community last Monday evening. Clearly the strategy was to present facts on the ground, averting our eyes from the primary question, both for the diocese and the community, of what should properly be done with the land. Reading many of the comments on this site, the strategy succeeded brilliantly and we are discussing parking spaces and building heights rather than more primary issues.
The argument that DC needs more housing and that this effort materially contributes to that effort strikes me as rather disingenuous. Fifty-eight luxury condos, with perhaps ten slated for middle to lower income singles , will not push the needle on the 120,000 units supposedly needed. The District has done an excellent job of taking blighted areas, such as 14th St., the Penn district, and NOMA and revitalizing them with massive new numbers of housing units. This land is not in such an area, in fact developers have been salivating over that property for a long time and it is only now, through the sad story of this beleaguered parish, that they have found a way in.
Is the St. Thomas parish house and park worth saving? Yes, it is. By sheer serendipity, the Wordsworthian remains of this structure, with its burnt but still standing gable, is one of the most beautiful testaments to hope and resurrection we have in this city. Its offering is completely other than Dupont Circle, with its carnival-like atmosphere and Stead Park, which is essentially a playground and sports field. The long-term resident (since the ‘70’s) who said at Monday’s meeting that by keeping the park the church is fulfilling its mission was absolutely right. It is a place of spiritual contemplation, uplift, and peace—even for the homeless. The peaceful power of that space is such that I always feel a common humanity with those also seeking respite from a dense urban environment.

In view of the above, I would propose that we ask the diocese to give us one year to find the funds to purchase the property in order to repurpose the parish and refurbish the park for public use. I suggest we do this before entertaining any of the architects or developers proposals.

S. R. Dupont Resident

by Suzanne Richardson on Mar 2, 2014 10:35 am • linkreport

I actually had called and asked about hosting a wedding ceremony in this park in Fall, 2014, and the church replied they had submitted building permit requests and couldn't guarantee availability.

Given the general trend of things, the ANC and associated residents will continue to get riled up, but they will never coalesce an organized method to attain their goal (keeping the park). The church will have its way, and break ground, erasing the park from the community. It's sad, because it was a pleasant space, but there's nothing stopping anyone from offering to buy it to preserve the park.

That said, these architectural proposals are the worst kind of awful, and dooms the building to stick out like an ugly sore-thumb amidst Dupont's blessedly-preserved mix of brownstone and Victorian grandeur.

by Adam on Mar 2, 2014 12:59 pm • linkreport

"The church is a nonprofit, and given that status because of the social benefits it offers to the community"

A church like other non profits, is given a tax ememption in a community WHILE it engages in giving social benefits to that community. Nothing in the tax exemption prevents them from selling their property and leaving a community at some point, and under property law in DC and every other part of the US (AFAIK) they ARE considered private property holders with all the rights of other private property holders.

"Fifty-eight luxury condos, with perhaps ten slated for middle to lower income singles , will not push the needle on the 120,000 units supposedly needed. "

A journey of a thousand miles ...

No one project will provide all the units needed, but that does not mean there is no cost to holding back supply.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 2, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

Two forms of silliness

1. Giving churches special privileges over and above their tax exemptions, such as special city focus on their parking issues

2. Non members telling churches what their mission should be, how they should spend their funds, what they should do with their property.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Mar 2, 2014 3:36 pm • linkreport

As a parishioner who attended the meeting, I appreciate the discussion and comments. While the return of the entrance to 18th Street would help with our visibility and welcome, St. Thomas is already a vibrant and growing church that simply has a need for additional space and is not depending on this reorientation to help bolster our numbers. The design for the church includes a roof deck, which would be made available for community events, as would many of the spaces inside.

by Parishioner on Mar 3, 2014 9:20 am • linkreport

70 feet is tall to be abutting and facing 2-story rowhouses on Church. The 70' R-5 limit is why we downzoned in Dupont/Logan to R-4 with it's 45' limit.

18th, which already has a couple 90' grandfathered buildings, would be more suitable for 70'.

by Tom Coumaris on Mar 4, 2014 11:31 am • linkreport

I don't really buy the poverty plea from Episcopalians, of all denominations. I would think that the diocese could have helped them rebuild long ago. The Episcopal church attempts to maintain community which makes even more ironic. If they're not a strong parish, it would have made sense to disband, esp. with other churches like St Margaret's a very short distance away. Given decades of community use, there might be actionable rights of easement by local residents to the parkland, as gloomy as it currently is. Churches make many claims on community but often seem to be poor neighbors.

The proposed building is ugly and doesn't really fit the surroundings. The building height is important, because it will need a variance if it is non-conforming with existing zoning, although some grace seems to be offered for penthouses that are functional in nature (utilities, sunroof, etc.).

I don't get why so much parking is needed. St Margaret's thrives w/o basically no parking, ditto the churches around Thomas Circle. The condos will be walking distance to multiple buses and Metro.

It sounds like the church waited a a little too long to let their neighbors in on their plans (which suggests they don't have much in the way of neighborhood roots). I really can't be too sympathetic if they did that and then planned to build an ugly building and obviously have no way of dealing with the most obvious NIMBY objections. They would have been smarter to sell the property and relocate elsewhere.

by Rich on Mar 4, 2014 9:09 pm • linkreport

"It sounds like the church waited a a little too long to let their neighbors in on their plans"

You do have to have a plan before you can let people in on it. No construction has started, no variances issued, no permits issued. Not sure when people expect to be included in these things but it always seems like the answer is "earlier!" no matter what.

by MLD on Mar 5, 2014 8:40 am • linkreport

I used to enjoy the walking labyrinth in the little park, although i believe its upkeep has been abandoned for a while now.

Related to the "why can't we all get along" meeting tonight announced on another one of these pages, the tone of these comments is disturbing. Why are people so angry? Would it be okay to acknowledge the value of "pocket parks" and other forms of green oases in the city? I'm sure the people who like that little park are aware of Dupont Circle and Stead Park. The parks and what they offer are not identical, though. A little empathy is really not that hard: "I know it's going to be hard to lose the little park, but perhaps we can work with Dept. of Rec to make a more intimate spot in Stead Park or something."

It would be nice if some of the more vocal new arrivals to DC would stop talking to everyone who doesn't immediately agree with their metrics as if they were idiots.

And MLD, one doesn't have to have a plan before one can let people in on it. One can invite people to participate in a planning process from the very beginning. Unless one doesn't want to.

by a change gon' come on Mar 7, 2014 12:57 pm • linkreport

To those who've said that the church should work with the neighborhood to raise funds, I believe the church tried that a few years ago with the previous design but without much enthusiasm (or money) from the neighbors. As for the neighborhood roots, the parish has been there for over a hundred years, considerably longer than anyone else living around there.

Now from everything I've heard about the church, they actually do seem to be a strong, growing community that's quickly outgrowing its current building. That building, btw, is falling apart and, frankly, isn't exactly the prettiest structure I've ever seen; so I take them at their word when they say they need to rebuild. I'd also say that they're making the right choice in building a new church that is cheaper to maintain, uses less energy, and provides more spaces for community events.

And as for the park, the church has said for sometime that it's been planning to rebuild; so for people to say that they've been caught by surprise at the possibility of losing "their"(?!) park is a little disingenuous.

by Church Friend on Mar 14, 2014 4:05 pm • linkreport

Apropos easements, an easement is only acquired if the owner fails to assert an ownership interest. The parish need only adhere to zoning regulations, its policies and procedures, and diocesan and national canons.

As for the notion that proximity creates entitlement, if nearby residents feel that they are entitled to tell the parish what to do with its property, then it logically follows that the same right extends to the parish and applies to its neighbors. I doubt very much that neighbors would want, for example, for the parish to tell them, for instance, what color to paint their living room, or how long a lease could be in neighboring apartments. Yet somehow they feel that they are entitled to tell the parish that they cannot rebuild after a fire? Please.

by TEC blogger on Sep 26, 2014 6:16 am • linkreport

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