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Presbyterian Church delays plans to tear down building after Damon and Ruffalo object

by Premier Journalist
DAMON CHURCH.jpg - Banner image

An Upper West Side congregation's controversial plans to demolish its 19th-century Romanesque Revival church building and sell the property to a developer have been put on hold.

The dispute had garnered nationwide attention due to the involvement of celebrities like Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon, with the hope that the reprieve might pave the way for a more favorable outcome for the historic structure.

West Park Presbyterian Church had sought permission from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to tear down the landmark building, citing financial constraints and the need to fund the broader work of the church, including community service initiatives.

The proposal faced opposition, gaining support from elected officials, including City Council member Gale Brewer, as well as celebrities such as Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo.

The building, designated a landmark in 2010, triggered a preservation movement, prompting the commission to schedule a vote on the demolition application for Tuesday.

In a letter to the commission on Friday, the church's lawyers announced the withdrawal of the application, citing a lease dispute lawsuit with a tenant as the reason.

The congregation expressed confidence in reapplying for approval in the future, emphasizing the need for the building's sale to secure the church's future.

Supporters of the preservation effort, including Gale Brewer, welcomed the decision, expressing hope that the hold could lead to an alternative solution for the building, potentially involving a buyer with plans to preserve rather than demolish it.


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