City churches reap real-estate cash

Downtown congregations are striking deals with developers
Robert Brashear, a New York City pastor, rubs his fingers against the 117-year-old walls of his church, and a shower of red dust sprinkles the sidewalk. Above him, scaffolding protects pedestrians from falling 20-pound chunks of sandstone.

Inside, water stains line the walls and cracks trace the barrel-vaulted ceiling of Brashear’s West-Park Presbyterian Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Brashear estimates that repairs would cost at least $10 million.

There are, he says with a sigh, “no resources to cover that kind of expense” in a 100-member church. But like so many other urban pastors, Brashear has seen his financial salvation—and it’s coming out of thin air.


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