Sacred Homes Church-Converted Condos Remain a Hot Trend

450 Clinton Street in Brooklyn is one of several church-converted condos in New York City. (David Chiu)

As demand for more residential space in New York City continues to grow, real estate developers are turning to churches to satisfy that constant need.

Following a trend that has occurred in the Big Apple and other parts of the country, churches have become hot properties for developers to acquire and transform into condos.

“With the limited amount of real estate available, all building types are subject to conversion,” said Nadia Meratla, senior vice president of design and development for Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. “I definitely think there's a sense of people being a little bit more nostalgic and really seeking interesting architecture that's a little bit more unique than our typical cookie-cutter product.”

What Makes Churches Attractive for Habitation

The trend coincides with reports of church closings in the Northeast and Midwest, including 40 Catholic Church buildings in the New York region from last year—not to mention declining attendance in America's churches. And according to a September 29, 2015 Wall Street Journal story, there were 1,502 sales of church properties worth about $1.3 billion in 2014.

“There are a variety of reasons why houses of worship might seek to explore conversion to alternative uses,” said Mitchell A. Korbey, a partner and chair of land use and zoning at the Manhattan-based law firm of Herrick, Feinstein LLP. “For example, the congregation might be dwindling. They find themselves in a situation where they need to explore a sale of a property or reuse of a property.”

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