Religious leaders fight to recover Harlem church from builders

Developer never delivered on $6 million project, suit claims
March 20, 2014 06:32PM

Two congregation leaders recently filed suit as alleging they are the rightful owners of a Harlem church that was seized after a pair of developers failed to rebuild it as promised.

Saadia and Maria Shapiro, a husband-and-wife team for a Brooklyn-based limited liability company called Parade Place, planned to erect a 12-story mixed-use building on four parcels.

Reverend Shirley Sutton and her son, Pastor Tyrone Holmes, at 75 East 125th Street own the parcels.

The Shapiros agreed to pay the Samuel’s Temple Church of God in Christ $2.5 million and to house the congregation inside the new space, the New York Daily News reported. They obtained the deed, took out a $1.95 million mortgage on the church and took an additional $4 million in equity — even though the agreement required them to develop the property before taking out a mortgage, according to the Daily News.

The project, which was supposed to be completed in 2011, was never built, according to the paper. Parade Place went bankrupt in 2009, and so did the bank it borrowed money from, the Daily News reported. Now the property belongs to the Bluestone Group, who did not return the Daily News’ call for comment.

The reverend and pastor seek $40,000 in legal fees, ownership of the building, more than $1 million that is allegedly owed and damages, according to the suit, filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court at the end of last year. [NYDN]Angela Hunt