Church To Be Resurrected As Housing

A former State Street church and rectory are set to become home to six new apartments or condos next year.

The City Plan Commission gave its unanimous OK with conditions at City Hall Wednesday night to developer Michael Zauberman of Newcastle Connecticut LLC to convert the former church and its rectory into six residential units. The church and rectory at 847-855 State St. were owned by the Lighthouse Tabernacle Christian Church Inc., but have been empty for years. They stand near the corner of Clark Street, across State from Da Legna, Christopher Martin’s, and Modern Apizza restaurants.

Courtesy Fernando PastorArchitect Fernando Pastor told commissioners that one of the six units will be fully Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant on the first floor. The design of the conversion will aim to maintain many of the historical details of the church including stained glass windows and the church’s tower, he said.

The church, which Pastor said had been abandoned for a decade, was built in 1904 and designed by the 19th century New Haven architectural firm Brown & Von Beren.

Markeshia Ricks PhotoThe plan calls for five units in the church building proper, with two units at the main level and three on a second floor. The sixth unit, the rectory, will actually be a single-family home. The apartments or condos — it hasn’t been decided what they will be other than new places to live — will have three or four bedrooms each.

City Plan staff recommended approval of the site plan for project under several conditions including making sure that the eventual inhabitants of the building can gain access through an existing easement at 881 State St.

Zauberman said this is his first residential development in New Haven. He expects it to take a year to complete.

“I hope this is the first of many,” he said.

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posted by: wendy1 on September 22, 2016  8:03am

WILL THEY BE AFFORDABLE or BS “luxury apts.”??????  Who is getting rich off this deal???  Will they hire local poor to do the construction???  Will they be protected from dust and asbestos????

posted by: New Haven Taxpayer on September 22, 2016  8:15am

18-24 new bedrooms.
How many parking spots did zoning allow them to proceed with?

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on September 22, 2016  8:18am

Who cares if they’re luxury apartments? It just adds to the housing inventory. How does an abandoned church help the city? By not paying taxes, or by just sitting there, costing the city money in maintenance costs?

posted by: jim1 on September 22, 2016  8:35am

This apt. on first floor for Handicapped persons will be saved till some fits the requirements? I don’t think so. Will rent or sell to first person that makes a bid.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 22, 2016  9:02am

Keep on sleeping Like I said New haven is in the first stages of gentrification.

Gentrification animated

Gentrification Town

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on September 22, 2016  9:11am

Historical Preservation +
Conversion of EMPTY building into useful property +
MORE housing, regardless of luxury status + (it’ll mean more units are available for the less-wealthy that otherwise would be taken by those willing to pay more)
A revitalization of a strip of State Street that desperately feels dates / dusty. +

ON THE HIGHWAY and BUSY State Street -
NEXT to PROBATE COURT and the LITTERBUGS that go there -

Overall, this is a win for the renter / owner and a win for the city!

posted by: Bradley on September 22, 2016  11:33am

Wendy, the market will not, by itself, solve the shortage of affordable housing.  But, as the Newnewhaven notes, adding units will tend to decrease rents. I’ve lived a few blocks from this site for more than 25 years. This is the first year that there have been a substantial number of unrented units In East Rock in late September. This is due to the addition of hundreds of units to the market in recent years. If landlords want to fill these units, they will have to reduce their rents.

NHT, the developer did not need a variance for parking. There is an adjacent lot.

3/5ths, gentrification is a change in the social class of the residents of an area. While this part of East Rock is not St. Ronan Street, it is already largely middle class.and has been for decades

posted by: Politics 101 on September 22, 2016  12:05pm

@ New Haven Taxpayer, I hope they didn’t require any!! (Yes, I own a house in the neighborhood and, like you, pay taxes. No, I don’t have a driveway. Yes, I have a car.)

posted by: Esbey on September 22, 2016  12:42pm

Wendy1, here is the answer to your question, this time and forever.  Under current zoning and building laws, etc., it is not profitable to build new inexpensive housing without some explicit or implicit government subsidy.  By “affordable” you actually mean “below market,” and so pretty much by definition that requires a subsidy.

I am personally in favor of a much larger government expenditure on housing, and therefore many more subsidies. But in the meantime, if you didn’t read about some special government subsidy or favor, then the answer is “no”, it is not “affordable”, rather it is “market rate”.  Blaming developers for the government not doing its proper job is an unhelpful displacement of the blame. 

Meanwhile, of course the city is much better off with families living on that lot, paying high New Haven taxes which will in turn help poor people.  It is not “BS”, it is a benefit to the city.  “BS” would be denying the city more tax revenue and residents because we are upset about federal government housing policy.  Recall the old saying involving a “nose,” “spite” and a “face”. 

And on parking, I pray (but doubt) that the required number of parking spots is “zero.”  There are plenty of reasonably close by paid parking lots that the well-off folks who inhabit these places can use if they want to own a car (and some won’t.)  There are literally thousands of jobs in walking/biking distance and good public transportation.  Demanding that these rich folks be provided with private parking, that they may not even want, is nuts. “Socialism for people, not cars.”

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 22, 2016  1:06pm

posted by: Bradley on September 22, 2016 12:33pm

3/5ths, gentrification is a change in the social class of the residents of an area. While this part of East Rock is not St. Ronan Street, it is already largely middle class.and has been for decades.

Not for long.In fact across this country the middle and Working class are being pushed out.

With Soaring Rents and a Vanishing Middle Class, San Francisco Becomes a City for the Rich.

As the city’s rent prices soar, San Francisco’s middle class is disappearing.

Gentrification Has Pushed The Black Middle Class Out Of NYC

Like I said New haven is in the first stages of gentrification.

I said to you before.How come the city will not call in Mo Vaughn’s Omni New York, which has nearly 12,000 housing units in various states around the country.
  94 units in Wyoming
◾558 units in Massachusetts
◾772 units in Georgia
◾964 units in North Carolina
◾750 units in South Carolina
◾1,262 units in Virginia
◾61 units in Florida
◾506 units in Maryland
◾252 units in New Jersey

I have send e-mails to city hall and ask why they will not call him in.No answer.Maybe the city does not want low income and real affordable housing.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 22, 2016  1:23pm


It is called ‘adaptive reuse’.

In fact, my college fraternity, Phi Sigma Kappa, in Troy, NY has been at the forefront of this new ‘trend’, purchasing a decommissioned church in 2012 (featured in Bloomberg Business this week).

In our case, we rehabbed the rectory as housing for the brotherhood, and kept the church ‘in tact’ as common/community space, with a newly commercial kitchen put in the basement last year.

The organ was donated to proper preservationists—and the working bell still exists, though, and was manufactured by the same company that made the Liberty Bell, stained glass present an in tact.

We also sponsor a community grants program each year, that gives regular folks money for neighborhood improvement projects, and we have the highest GPA of any ‘frat’ on campus…..

So imagine my contempt for a project like this one on State Street—call it what you will, I call it Desecration.

posted by: Renewhavener on September 22, 2016  8:36pm

@3/5, This is not a taunt, more of an FYI.  From the article: “Zauberman said this is his first residential development in New Haven. He expects it to take a year to complete.  “I hope this is the first of many,” he said”

Zauberman is not the President of the firm.  The leader is rather a one Margaret Streicker Porres, a member of the NYC Rent Stabilization Board:

Who also has an over ten year history of pushing out low rent tenants:

Now, I am very pro-development.  And, no one is being displaced here at this address.  Also find the adaptive reuse quite an interesting program.

However, we have enough of the unsavory model of development deployed south of here spreading around town already, and with this reputation foreshadowing the renovation, I for one am concerned.  Mostly because I am tired of hearing in the media and in the circles who concern themselves with the built environment here locally about the mistreatment of local firms, or their omission entirely from the opportunity to compete and deliver work.  Mr. Pastor’s work would seem to indicate that might not happen here, but Newcastle Connecticut is fully owner by Newcastle Management, who is not registered as an business entity with the State of Connecticut.  Bit of a head scratcher that.

So with all that in mind, Mr. Zauberman, if you want to have a successful project here, and do more than one, would suggest you dot your I’s and cross your T’s and do it properly.  You have a lot of people watching how you progress.

posted by: eliantonio on September 22, 2016  9:08pm

Funny they have been doing construction for four months and nie they go to zoning?  Anyone on state st today (and tomorow) will see the street is practically shut down. 
And yes they brought in a large group of local men to create a large cloud of unknown particulates back in June, covered the whole block in dust.
Three and four bedroom apartments on state st?  I smell bad fish.

posted by: DRAND on September 23, 2016  5:44am

I hope this works out well for the community although I was unhappy to see after 2 years, he pulled out of the St Aedan Convent condo build on McKinley Ave. We do need more affordable housing and I hope they aren’t priced too high.

posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 23, 2016  7:01am

Hold the phone folks! Bill Saunders, you were a frat boy? The pranks and the occasional Internet trolling make sense but everything else about you…I’m going to need to hear more over a beer.

posted by: Eva G on September 23, 2016  7:48am

My reaction to Bill’s post was much like Ben Berkowitz’s: “Saunders was a frat boy?”
Wonders never cease.

I personally am hoping for the best for this building, which has been a mess for a good long while, and shouldn’t have gotten to that point. Its imposing presence should be brightening that run of State Street, instead of bringing it down. I’m actually pleased to hear that units will be bigger than two-bedrooms, because it seems to me that there are a lot of families in East Rock and nearby that would *appreciate* more than two bedrooms but have a very hard time finding them (count my family among this group).
I worry about the process (going to zoning after the fact) but am glad to see a church being re-imagined as *something* rather than just sitting there rotting. This town has a bunch of old churches that have been turned into apartments, and they’re usually pretty handsome spaces, if quirky (that’s ecclesiastical architecture for you). One thing I worry about is shoddy construction, but I worry about that with all construction post-1980 or so.

To demand that every new apartment be “affordable,” read “below market,” is simply unrealistic. A sensible person will be glad that the grand list is being expanded, and pray that the developers do right by the project instead of bailing and leaving a mess behind.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2016  8:41am

Ben an Eva—

I was an Eagle Scout too, and I stand strongly behind both the Boy Scouts of America, and my fraternity, as strong positive influences on my spirit and character.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2016  9:05am

Ben and Eva,

I have also been spending occasional time at my fraternity over the past several years installing my former ‘psychedelic bedroom’ as the central altar piece in the church.  When I stay there, I sleep in the priest’s room in the back the chapel in solitude and silence—so, yeah—from my experiences, I love living in a church .  But what makes that experience ‘real’ is the integrity of the church itself.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 23, 2016  1:18pm

If anyone is curious as to why the church sits at such a funny angle on the site, it’s because prior to the construction of Interstate 91, Franklin Street (now a one block long street that accessed the Farnam Court public housing project on Grand Avenue) used to intersect with State Street in front of this church. So the building was sited to face both Franklin and State Streets. When the highway was built, the intersection was removed and the church’s positioning lost its context.

1934 Aerial of State Street:

posted by: Bradley on September 23, 2016  2:07pm

3/5ths, the extensive gentrification you describe incessantly has happened in a few cities, notably including New York and San Francisco. But nationally, the vast majority of neighborhoods that were poor 20, 30, or 40 years ago are still poor.

I’m from Chicago - the majority of neighborhoods on the South Side (where I was born) and the West Side (where I spent my early childhood) were poor 40 years ago and are poorer now. Perhaps five of the approximately 50 neighborhoods on the South and West sides (where most of the city’s low- income residents live) have gentrified.

Can you identify a New Haven neighborhood that has gone from poor to middle class in the past generation? Some blocks have clearly gentrified,  e.g., Mansfield Street and parts of Downtown that were non- residential now have middle- class residents. But it is a very limited phenomenon.

posted by: LookOut on September 23, 2016  2:26pm

great to see that New Haven is doing a better job of not letting buildings become or stay abandoned….let’s keep it going….how do we advance to the 2nd or 3rd stage of gentrification?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on September 23, 2016  6:44pm

posted by: Bradley on September 23, 2016 3:07pm

Can you identify a New Haven neighborhood that has gone from poor to middle class in the past generation? Some blocks have clearly gentrified,  e.g., Mansfield Street and parts of Downtown that were non- residential now have middle- class residents. But it is a very limited phenomenon.

You always ask me this question.And I always tell you that New haven is in the first stages of gentrification.It took over 30 years for gentrification to take over Harlem.Gentrification came to Bed-Stuy in the 2000s.Now the Bronx is in the first stages of gentrification..I was talking to some people who lived in church street south.They told me a lot of the people have move to other states.Again New haven is just in the first stage.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 23, 2016  7:37pm


Just look around at the latest round of downtown development, and tell me where there is any integrity in terms of design and sympathy to our cities historic surroundings.  Face it, even the mural at Corsair is there to hide bad design while being praised for leaving space for artists.

Now we are moving into the territory of destroying viable historic community spaces from within. 
The nice thing about this approach is that it looks great in rental brochures while being closed off to the community at large.

Historic Spaces, especially structures like Old Churches, need to have their SPIRIT and PLACE IN THE COMMUNITY respected at the very core of the development. 

Otherwise it is just greedy sons of bitches renting shit to budding social climbers.

We need to hold ALL of our developers to a Higher Standard.