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Queens Chronicle

150-Year-Old Maspeth Church May Make Way For Housing

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Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:00 am

A 150-year-old Maspeth church may be facing the wrecking ball.

The development company that bought the former St. Saviour’s Church off Rust Street in October has applied for a zoning change that would allow housing to be built on the property.

The developer, Maspeth Development LLC, could not be reached for comment. A call to the attorney representing the company was not returned.

The developer submitted its request to the city Department of Planning on Dec. 22. The department now has 45 days to review the application and request more information and changes.

The department usually ends up requesting and getting revisions in the developer’s plans in these cases, said Jennifer Torres, a spokeswoman for the department. “They will most likely change.”

After the Planning Department reviews the application, it will need to go through the land use review process, which requires multiple public hearings and reviews by Community Board 5, the Queens Borough President’s Office, and the City Council. That process will probably not get under way before the end of spring, Torres said.

The property is currently under a mixed-use zone that excludes housing. The R5B zoning the developers have applied for allows for one- and two-family detached and semi detached rowhouses.

The requested zoning does seem to match the church’s immediate surroundings, which include a few blocks of rowhouses and detached homes on the edge of Maspeth’s industrial section.

The lot covers an entire block between 57th Drive and 58th Road. It is a hill dotted with trees, with the church sitting on top of the hill offering a commanding view of the surrounding neighborhood. An attached hall, a two-story home, and some storage sheds are the only other structures on the property, which is still littered with items like children’s toys and a rusty barbecue grill. The 10 bright yellow construction waste bins in the rear of the property appear to be a more recent addition.

The fence surrounding the property is still hung with signs for the San Sung Korean Methodist Church of New York, which owned the church from 1997 until last October.

Before that, it was an Episcopal church, founded in 1847 at a time when Maspeth was still a rural suburb of New York City.

The original church was mostly destroyed in a fire just before Christmas 1970, but it was rebuilt with a similar appearance and rededicated in 1972. A dwindling congregation led the parish to close in 1995.

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