Civic gets 1-month window to move St. Savior’s Church

By Nathan Duke

The civic has been fighting for two years to preserve the 160-year-old church, located at 57-40 58th St. in Maspeth, and demolition of the building appeared imminent after the city issued a permit in late February to a contractor allowing it to knock down the structure.But Richmond Hill-based developer Maspeth Development LLC has agreed to give the civic one month to move the church from its current locale to another site, Juniper Park President Robert Holden said. Now the civic is scrambling to come up with funds for the transfer, he said.”The good news is St. Savior's will be saved,” he said. “This has been a two-year struggle, so a lot of people will be happy to see the church saved. We have the will, which is important, but now we need the money.”Holden said there are currently two plans to move the church, including one that would disassemble the structure, store it and rebuild it at another neighborhood site, and another that would move the building intact.Middle Village's All Faiths Cemetery has agreed to put the structure on a part of its property at 69th Street and Juniper Valley Road, said Dan Austin, the cemetery's chairman.”We want to save part of our history,” Austin said. “The location [at All Faiths] would be ideal for the church, so we hope to have it reassembled in three to four months.”Austin said the church building could become an active nondenominational chapel used for community meetings or treated as a historically significant community landmark.The civic also has an agreement with a local storage facility to keep the pieces of the building if the structure needs to be taken apart and rebuilt at another site, Holden said.State Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) has pledged $100,000 for the transfer, while state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) has secured $50,000, Holden said. The total cost of the move would be more than $150,000, he said.Holden said he originally had difficulty reaching Maspeth Development LLC, the church property's current owners.”The lines of communication are open now,” he said. “[The owner] was gracious enough to talk to me. He's a reasonable guy who wants to work with the community.”Holden said that consultants have told him that the church could easily be disassembled or moved intact from its current site, but that the process could take a few weeks. But he said he expected the civic to be able to move the property by its late April deadline.Community activists praised the fight to save St. Savior's.”This campaign represents the heart and soul of the grassroots preservation community in New York,” said Paul Graziano, president of the city's Historic Districts Council.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.