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Land use Church redevelopment

mendelman

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A great opportunity for more housing and/or putting these properties back or finally on the tax roles.

Affordable housing here we come.
 

bureaucrat#3

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The really crazy part of it is that we've seen so many churches move into retail centers or build large mega-church campuses. I think old church buildings don't fit with most modern church uses.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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The really crazy part of it is that we've seen so many churches move into retail centers or build large mega-church campuses. I think old church buildings don't fit with most modern church uses.
Plus retrofitting them will be a bear. Most of them were built to older codes if at all. If there is one advantage to the anonymous style most modern church as built to, they should be able to be retrofitted. Don't get me going on the topic of the the decline of church architecture. A couple staff members and I actually got into a pretty good Planning conversation on the topic on a wool gathering Friday afternoon. It was an interesting discussion.
 

mendelman

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Dan

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Residential reuse of urban churches, synagogues, and other places of worship seems like it would be really difficult, considering the height and bulk of a typical sanctuary area.

For former Catholic churches, the underlying diocese often imposes deed restrictions prohibiting “worldly”reuse, like for rental halls, nightclubs, restaurants, and entertainment related uses. This tells me they’re still vested in the building, and think of it as consecrated sacred space. Other Christian denominations, and Jewish sects, usually don’t limit reuse — once a place of worship is deconsecrated, it’s no longer sacred space. Still, this makes adaptive reuse for a non-assembly purpose difficult.

In my hometown, I’ve been seeing what I call “church filtration”. Similar to aging houses in neighborhoods that have seen better days, churches and synagogues get passed down from their original congregation to increasingly poorer congregations, until they’re abandoned by a congregation that deferred maintenance past the point of no return.

There’s adaptive reuse by different faiths. That sometimes means the loss of priceless art and architectural features, especially in the case of Catholic and Orthodox churches being passed on to Islamic congregations. All iconography or depictions of humans are wiped out. This includes stained glass windows, stations of the cross, and the like.

Maybe we should be asking how we design a future-proof, scalable place of worship? How do we build a sanctuary that can be converted to apartments without having to worry about windowless bedrooms, or expensive full gut jobs?
 

mendelman

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Maybe we should be asking how we design a future-proof, scalable place of worship? How do we build a sanctuary that can be converted to apartments without having to worry about windowless bedrooms, or expensive full gut jobs?
I don't think that's really as much of a worry anymore as many new church buildings are not built like the old central city behemoths of the past.

Most of the new ones here have effectively the same designs as medium sized light industrial buildings, therefore easily adaptable.
 

gtpeach

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Maybe we should be asking how we design a future-proof, scalable place of worship? How do we build a sanctuary that can be converted to apartments without having to worry about windowless bedrooms, or expensive full gut jobs?

As a theoretical thought experiment, it's interesting to think about. As a person of faith, I also think there's some merit to thinking through the overall sustainability and future uses of the space. (If it won't always be for a place of worship, what are the other things we would like to be able to be easily converted to in order to continue to serve our community?)

But practically, I don't know that it's something that should ever actually be pursued from a regulatory angle.

More and more, though, I don't think most congregations should even have their own buildings. There are larger churches that have programs throughout the week and actually use large portions of the space more frequently. Buildings make sense for them. Congregations that meet once or twice a week and don't do any regular programming... that doesn't seem like a good use of resources. There are headaches that go along with that, of course, but I just think the building-dependent model of what churches expect to do needs to be reconsidered in most cases for the average church congregation.

I don't know where I can plug in as a church planner (not a church planter, to be clear), but maybe that should be my next job.
 
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