The largest evangelical church in New York City is hoping to break ground on a $1.2 billion urban village development that would revitalize the area neighborhood.
The Christian Cultural Center is working through the city’s approval process.
“If I’ve got land, and it’s valuable, I’m going to leverage that land to partner in its future, not surrender it,” said A.R. Bernard, pastor of The Christian Cultural Center.” What can we do to better the quality of life?” Bernard told Christianity Today in early August as he thumbed through the proposals for the urban village. “My theology is summed up in two words: human flourishing. That’s the story from Genesis to Revelation.”
The proposed village will be on 10.5 acres of church land and is set to include affordable housing units, a trade school, a supermarket, a performing arts center, 24/7 childcare for night-shift workers, senior living accommodations and other amenities.
“I’m a big Jane Jacobs fan, when it comes to understanding the urban landscape. And community means amenities are within a 1,000-foot walking distance,” Bernard said, referring to the urban planner who is famous for saving lower Manhattan from highway development. “She was a genius. Absolute genius.
“When you have lights, activity, shopkeepers, people, you have eyes on the street,” he said. “So there’s less of a need for strong policing, because you have so many eyes, and so many stakeholders. That’s what community is about.”
In the proposed neighborhood, 33 percent of households are rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 50 percent of their income on rent.
Tony Carnes, who has documented the histories of New York churches for his project “A Journey Through NYC Religions,” said the CCC’s project is “perhaps unprecedented [in] size and scope for one congregation to undertake.”
Church officials are hoping to break ground on the project as soon as spring 2023.
Photo courtesy: Luca Bravo/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.