Rental Building to Rise Behind Brand New Church in Manhattan Neighborhood

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorNew York–The Rocky Mount Baptist Church congregation and North Manhattan Construction Corp., a New York-based development and construction company, have struck a deal to build a new church, as well as thousands of square feet of community space and an apartment complex in place of the existing 5,000 sq.-ft., one-story church, located at 37-41 Hillside Ave. in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.Starting this fall, North Manhattan will start construction on the new church which will be15,000 square feet. In addition, there will be 100,000 square feet of rental housing behind the church. Rocky Mount Baptist Church, which is housed on a 20,000-sq.-ft. lot on Hillside Avenue, has appreciated to $6 million dollars in value, from its original purchase price of $140,000 in 1980. Originally used as a senior citizen center, the 45-year-old building was in severe need of renovation, which the Church could not afford. “North Manhattan Construction offered us the best deal, beating out three other development companies,” says Reverend Eugene Hudson who bought the property more than two decades ago. “They were also the only company that said they would make no profit off building the church.”Of the 75 rental units in the 16-story residential complex, 20 percent will be reserved for affordable housing with an additional 11,000 sq. ft. of community facility space planned on the lower floors. “With the new Rocky Mount Baptist Church and community space, we will have the room to restart our old outreach programs, such as English speaking classes and a daycare center,” says Hudson.Hudson plans to welcome additional members by reaching out to tenants in the new apartment building behind the church.Two architecture firms will work together to construct the project. Oliver Franklin and partner George Jones of Johnson Jones Architects Planners Inc. will design the church and Mario Canteros, the principal for Mario A. Canteros Architect P.C., will be undertaking the residential portion of the project.“The idea of merging an ecclesiastical structure with a residential, urban structure has its unique challenges,” sys Canteros. “But we believe this solution will provide the initial path to a harmonious relationship that will enhance the neighborhood beyond the original vision.”