The Separation of Church and Real Estate

Churches want to cash in on New York’s property boom
Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn Photograph by Beyond My Ken

After being ordained in 2012, the Reverend Christopher Ballard was assigned to an historic Episcopal church in Brooklyn and got to work on a key part of his new job: real estate development. Ballard decided to sell the rectory of the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew as well as an adjacent parking lot—43,000 square feet of buildable residential space behind the landmarked church in the Clinton Hill neighborhood. The site is listed with Halstead Property for $8.6 million, money that would help cover maintenance on a house of worship that dates from 1891. There’s no point in waiting because the market is not likely to have another rally like this one, says Ballard in an office on the second floor of the Romanesque Revival church, a half-mile from the new Barclays Center arena, where the Brooklyn Nets basketball team plays. “This is the time to do it,” he says.

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