According to Reverend Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, CEO of CCBQ, the 110-year-old Our Lady of Loreto Church needs about $9 million worth of structural work to make it safe.
“It’s not worth doing that,” he said. “You’d be taking money and throwing it out the window.”
So the organization has secured demolition permits and expect work to begin in the next couple of weeks. He plans to keep the community apprised during the four to six months the work will take.
“Once we’re in the process of taking the building down, I will meet with the community board,” LoPinto said. “We’ll engage them in a conversation about what can come.”
CCBQ is examining the possibility of adding a community center to the 24 units of affordable, as well as preserving all or some of the building’s facade.
“This is my home parish,” LoPinto said. “I’m not there to destroy it, but I have to be real about it. You can’t live in the past.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio agrees.
“The church has been empty for six years,” he said. “We don’t need it. We have a church two blocks away. [Housing] is the greater need.”
Preservationists are continuing to fight the demolition. The church was built in 1907, and was built and designed entirely by Italian artisans.
Mario Toglia of the Italian American Studies Association is not fond of saving just the facade.
“No good preservationist believes in facadism,” he wrote in an email. “The Sacred Sites Division of New York Landmark Conservancy has already dismissed the idea as an unsound engineering travesty that would actually put the facade at greater risk, regardless of how it was braced, and involve prohibitive cost.”
Toglia also believes that 24 units of affordable housing is not worth destroying the church.
“Twenty-four more housing units will not make a positive impact on the people of Brownsville,” he said.