With large community support and all of the elected officials that represent Morningside Heights, a successful protest was held on Saturday, April 5, 2014 in front of Saint John the Divine.
In addition to all the elected officials, also joining us were Brad Taylor, President of Friends of Morningside Park, Noah Kaufman of the 113/ABC Block Association and numerous other supporters from all over the area.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler, joined by state and city elected officials and neighborhood activists, protested the Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s plans to build two luxury apartment towers immediately adjacent to its landmark church that will desecrate one of the city’s most important architectural and cultural centers.
“I am deeply concerned that the construction on the grounds of St. John the Divine jeopardizes the historic nature of the Cathedral’s close and will overwhelm the surrounding neighborhood,” said Congressman Jerry Nadler. “I call on the Church to work with the community to find an appropriate use for the space.”
Nadler was joined by state Senator Bill Perkins, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell and City Councilman Mark Levine, all of whom represent the area, in calling for the Cathedral leaders to stop the construction, which is poised to begin.“This site is simply inappropriate for a development of this size and scope,” said Assemblyman O’Donnell. “It will have a gravely negative impact not only on the historic Cathedral itself, but on our shared community for generations to come.”
Council Member Mark Levine said,” The cathedral is a precious historical structure of national and global significance. The construction of a huge residential building along the entire northern façade will undoubtedly diminish this landmark, and will increase overcrowding on a busy street, which is the sole access point for a hospital emergency room. We need to challenge the notion that every square inch of open space in this city should be developed for luxury housing. I will continue to work with the community to fight this project.”
The Cathedral plans to build two 145-foot-tall towers containing 426 apartment – the overwhelming majority of them luxury rentals – and a large underground parking garage directly to the north of the Cathedral on its historic close. The towers will sit immediately across from the emergency room at Saint Luke’s Hospital.
Cathedral leaders acknowledge that the construction has no connection to their historic spiritual or social mission.
St. John’s is the largest Gothic – style Cathedral in the world, a global landmark and has been nominated as an endangered historic site. As the illustrations show, the new towers will rise up to the eaves of the Cathedral, blocking the superb stained glass windows, the beautifully detailed Gothic statuary and dramatic buttresses. The towers will darken the north portion of its glorious nave. The project will also impinge upon two other adjacent landmarks – Morningside Park and the old St. Luke’s hospital – and disrupt the hospital’s active emergency room.
Laura Friedman, President of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, which has collected over 1,100 petition signatures states that,
“What a legacy of shame the Cathedral administration is bringing upon one of America’s most beautiful cathedrals,” said Friedman. “No other major cathedral would even think of doing this.”
Friedman noted that Daniel Brodsky, whose Brodsky Organization is the main developer for the project, professes to be dedicated to protecting the city’s world-class artistic heritage as Chairman of the Board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
“Here he is zealously desecrating an architectural and spiritual treasure while he claims to be a champion of protecting our artistic heritage,” Friedman said. “The only way to be true to our heritage is to stop this project.”
Please see our photo gallery for photos of the event and in our Press section you can find links to the media coverage that the protest received.