Church sale falls through
$60K in fines still hanging over Bleecker property
GLOVERSVILLE — A potential sale of a downtown church has fallen through, according to city attorney Anthony Casale.
During Tuesday’s Common Council meeting, Casale said a potential sale of the property would not be going forward because the interested buyer withdrew its interest.
Casale said local attorney Paul Kolodziej was representing the potential buyer. Kolodziej was unavailable for comment.
The Church of God of Prophecy Northeast Region, based in Albany, has owned the Bleecker Square Church since 2000, when it was purchased for $60,000, according to tax map data.
It has listed the former First United Methodist Church at 7 Elm St. for sale at $100,000.
“[The attorney] confirmed to me [Tuesday] morning that his client is no longer interested in pursuing that [purchase],” Casale said. “So that is not going to be a way these problems are going to be solved.”
Plans were initially in place to repair the church and make it into a site for a congregation. Those plans later fell through.
The structure’s tax-exempt status was removed in 2009 because it was no longer used as a congregational meeting place.
The city fined the church $60,000 in 2011 for removing almost all of the stained glass windows and functional clock from the church, without approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Review Board.
The $60,000 is broken up into five $12,000 fines — one for each of the four facades of the building and one for the steeple, where the clock was removed.
While city officials say the windows were taken out roughly, the property remains structurally sound, although drainage issues could affect it in the future if not addressed.
The owners have stated the windows are available in storage in Westchester County. The location of the clock is not known.
Casale said the fines have since been turned into a lien against the property and a civil judgment.
“Now that I’ve gotten word from attorney Kolodziej, I’m going to be reaching out to the church, asking them to pay up. Hopefully they do,” Casale said. “If they don’t, I’m going to be chasing them.”
Church officials told The Leader-Herald in November that they had been working with a developer who wanted to turn the building into condominiums. Those plans fell through.
Church leaders say they bought the building in good faith, hoping to create a new congregation in the city. They told The Leader-Herald in November that the people responsible for the removal of the windows are not the same people who are currently in charge of the Northeast chapter.
They said they want to see the building sold to someone who will renovate the property.
Third Ward Supervisor Vincent DeSantis said there is a chance the city could work the church into its potential plans to reapply for a $10 million downtown revitization grant.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has included in his proposed budget another round of the $10 million for 10 counties plan that sees winning municipalities awarded funds. Gloversville applied for the funding last year, however Oneonta was named the winner for the Mohawk Valley.
“We did a lot of work last year developing that application. I think it was very well received by the committee, in fact we were one of the finalists,” DeSantis said. “Because that church is kind of a central thing, it may very well be something that we put into this application.”
DeSantis said the city may have to try and attract a developer for the property, creating a public-private partnership included in the grant application for the building.
Kerry Minor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.