NY Trinity Church to Replace Two Historic Buildings With Tall, Modern Residential Tower

The board of the historic Trinity Church in lower Manhattan has accepted a grand plan to replace two of its old buildings with a new modern structure comprising six to seven stories for church offices with a 25-story residential tower on top of it.

For the project totaling 296,000 square feet, the world's richest Anglican parish has hired the firm Pelli Clarke Pelli, which is led by César Pelli, an Argentine American architect known for designing some of the world's tallest buildings and other major urban landmarks.

"The new structure will include a six or seven-story base dedicated to mission activities and related offices, topped by a 25-story residential tower," says the church's rector, the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, in a statement announcing the new project.

The plan is to replace its existing 90-year old parish office building at 68-74 Trinity Place with a new structure. This will provide a source of revenue "so we can begin to prepare for significant expansion of our core ministry activities, which include philanthropic grant-making, homeless outreach, and the program life of one of the city's most diverse congregations," Cooper adds.

The rector of the more than 300 years old was accused of subversion of the institution's mission and extravagant spending last year, and 10 of the 22 members of Trinity Church's board of directors were allegedly either forced out or quit.

"The case for a new structure was overwhelming: the basic rehabilitation of the two-building site, including substantial work to meet new code compliance standards, would have required an expenditure of $33 million, without addressing the issue of restrictive floor plates which discourage large scale gathering spaces and ease of accessibility," says board member Lawrence Graham, former development director of Brookfield Properties. "Funding for the new ministry space, plus a continuing revenue stream, can be generated by the projected 25-story residential portion of the mixed-use development."

César Pelli says he is "thrilled" to receive "this entirely unique assignment." "This gorgeous jewel of a site, a very clear urban room with a natural landscape surrounding, is unlike any place else in the world."

The project will begin in the fall of 2014, with completion slated in 2017.

Accusations against tje Rev. Cooper included misreporting of numbers of worshippers on Sunday services; demands for a $5.5 million SoHo townhouse, an allowance for his Florida condo and a fat salary; trips around the world at church's expense, wasting more than $1 million on development plans for a luxury condo tower; and spending $5 million on a publicity campaign. The rector's compensation was worth $1.3 million in 2010 and it included a salary of $346,391 and deferred compensation of $507,940.

Located at the head of Wall Street, Trinity Church has been part of New York City's and America's history since its charter in 1697, says the institution, which has 6 million square feet of commercial real estate in lower Manhattan.