By Rebecca Henely
Members of the United Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood presented plans for building affordable housing for seniors on the site of the current parsonage house adjacent to the church to Community Board 5’s Zoning and Land Use Review Committee Monday.
While church representatives said the affordable senior housing would fill a need in the community and help the church raise money for its services, committee members worry that the height of the proposed structure — 57 feet — would be out of character with the surrounding houses.
“Most of the structures that are over there are smaller than that. The church is taller than that, but most of the structures nearby are smaller than that,” said Gary Giordano, district manager for CB 5.
Giordano said the church’s plans are in the preliminary stages and currently call for 48 studio apartments measuring 450 square feet each. The apartments would be sold for about $225,000 each, although the church hopes to get a government subsidy to knock down the price to $165,000 per dwelling unit.
The apartment building housing these units would be built on the site of the parsonage, which would be demolished, and the project would require a variance from the city Board of Standards and Appeals.
“[The church representatives] were really trying to get a sense from the Zoning and Land Use Committee and the community board whether or not this was feasible,” Giordano said.
The church, which has federal and state landmark status, would not be touched by the construction, Giordano said.
“Ultimately, it’s to preserve the church and the programs that the church currently administers,” Giordano said. “And they don’t have the funding to continue to run the church and the programs, and this is a way for them to get income into the future.”
The church runs many programs in addition to the religious services, including a Rock Fitness Center, which pays for its food pantry. The church’s website currently has a survey for senior residents about whether they would be interested in affordable housing.
It said the studio apartments would have a monthly maintenance charge of $950, a medical office on premises, on-site parking, roof gardens, a community room and senior activities. It would be open to all races, religions and ethnic backgrounds and all residents must be 55 or older with no live-in grandchildren or children.
“I believe that the great majority of the committee members believe that there’s certainly a need for senior housing and for affordable senior housing,” Giordano said. “They just have concerns as to the height of the proposed development.”
In response, the church representatives said that height would be needed to make the project fit on the space and be financially viable, Giordano said. He said the board has not yet reviewed the financing associated.
He said after the meeting that the church members are in a position to pursue this project a little further — and potentially do a market analysis for the demand of dwelling units of that size at the government-subsidized price.
Only members of the church community were at the meeting, Giordano said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.