Deputies vote to sell the church center headquarters in New York

July 6, 2012

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] The House of Deputies today voted to direct Executive Council to sell the Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Avenue in New York, where most of the church’s administrative staff offices are located. The action came through a resolution proposed by the Joint Legislative Committee on Structure.

The resolution now goes to the House of Bishops for its consideration.

Deputies on the floor removed a requirement that the sale take place before the 2015 General Convention, to give the Executive Council greater flexibility to sell at the best price possible.

The Rev. Gay Jennings, the deputies’ chair of the Structure Committee, said the issue of selling the property has been studied several times in the past, and committee members decided that now was the time to do it.

The Rev. Frank Hubbard, deputy from New Jersey, urged deputies to agree. He said, “815 Second Avenue is the relic of our delusions of being an established church from an imperial era. Constantine has left the building. Unfortunately, Constantine has left us the building.”

Deputy Karen Phillips Smith of Southeast Florida said this was not the time to force a sale, given that the building’s tenants are paying only $35 a square foot in rent. Noting her background in international real estate development she said. “There’s no way I could sell that to anybody.” She added, “I’m not saying not sell it, I’m just saying, not now.”

The resolution’s explanation noted that the building will cost more than $11 million to operate over the next three years. Debt service amounts to $8.7 million, with facilities management nearly $6.5 million. Rental income offsets those expenses by just over $4 million, for a net cost of $11,093,156.

— Melodie Woerman is a member of the Episcopal News Service team at General Convention.