The Real Deal New York

Williamsburg church conversion has some holy stipulations

Watermark Capital lease bars activities deemed "obscene" by Catholic church

September 24, 2015 03:00PM

321 Wythe Avenue

321 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg

Waterman Capital Group’s residential conversion of a century-old Catholic church in South Williamsburg is staying devout — with a series of stipulations in the deal prohibiting profane or sacrilegious activities, in the eyes of the church, from taking place on the property.

The developer is leasing land from debt-ridden Saints Peter and Paul Church, at 321 Wythe Avenue, with plans to convert one of the church’s buildings and its parking lot into a multifamily residence. Waterman’s lease starts at $2.1 million per year.

But while 321 Wythe Avenue won’t be used for worship anymore, the church stipulated that certain activities not in line with Catholicism will continue to be banned from the property even after its conversion, according to DNAinfo.

A clause in the lease bars activities associated with abortion, birth control, euthanasia, stem-cell research or pornography at the location. That includes any “obscene” performances and the sale or distribution of pornographic material, as well as counseling on abortions, birth control or euthanasia.

Any violation of the clause “would be seriously damaging and harmful to the reputation and standing of [Saints Peter and Paul Church] as a religious corporation” and would be grounds for a lawsuit, according to the lease.

The church, which was founded in 1844 and arrived at its current location in 1920, owes more than $450,000 in liabilities including $275,000 in long-term debt. The organization will maintain its building at 288 Berry Street.

Numerous church properties across the city have been converted into residential developments over the past several years. Recently, Brookland Capital revealed it is marketing a Clinton Hill church that it plans to convert into a 21-unit condo project. [DNAinfo]Rey Mashayekhi