Urgent: New State Bill Would Strip Landmark Protections from Historic Churches and Religious Properties — WRITE NOW!

l. to r.: Grace Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. Luke’s-in-the-Field, and St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery — just a few of the landmarked churches and religious properties that could be altered or destroyed if current state legislation is approved.

A new bill in the State Legislature would for the first time remove landmark protections for churches and other religious properties, allowing structures of national historic significance to be altered, built upon, and even demolished. Far from an obscure piece of legislation, it has 50 co-sponsors and a well-funded campaign behind it being led by real estate front group Open NY, a tech-funded advocacy organization dedicated to stripping away protections for historic properties and neighborhood zoning protections.

The innocuously (and misleadingly) named “Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act” would in fact for the first time nullify protections for churches and other religious properties that have been landmarked, to allow developers to build market-rate (including luxury condo) housing on site, so long as a fraction of the units (about one-quarter) are made available at below-market rates.

Village Preservation has reached out to sponsors of the bill regarding this disturbing provision, and has been told by the office of the Senate’s main sponsor that nullifying landmarks protections was not an intention of the bill, and they intend to amend the bill’s language to address that. However, until and unless that happens, the bill remains in its present form, with dozens of prominent co-sponsors, and an active campaign to secure its passage by a group that is in fact dedicated to seeking to nullify landmarks protections. We, along with fellow preservation organizations, have called upon sponsors of the bill to ensure this language is changed as soon as possible, and to withdraw their support for the legislation until and unless that happens. 


April 3, 2024