The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City is preparing to lease a part of its property to a developer. The plan is to build a second tower containing residential apartments that will in turn provide a steady revenue stream to the Cathedral. The first tower, finished in 2008, contains 295 apartments with a mix of subsidized and non-subsidized rental agreements.
“The new agreement raises the specter of a second for-profit tower impinging on the Gothic stone silhouette of the church, whose cornerstone was laid in 1892. No significant work has been done on the cathedral building in close to 30 years.
The dean of the Cathedral Church, the Very Rev. James A. Kowalski, said he was resigned to being castigated for the pending construction but was not apologetic about the need for it: “I’m not surprised when I hear from people who say, ‘You’re too lazy to raise money any other way,’ but that opinion is simply incorrect.” Dean Kowalski said that after the north transept of the cathedral was gutted and its historic organ damaged by a fire late in 2001, church leaders realized they needed to seek outside income.”
More about the plans here in the New York Times.
The lease on the first tower generates 2.7 million dollars a year of revenue for the Cathedral’s operating budget. That is about 30% of the total Cathedral annual budget (9 million). If the second tower does the same or better, then nearly 2/3rds of the Cathedral budget will be supported into the next century.