Congregation Seals $107M Financing for New Bronx Church, Resi Building


In the second such deal that closed in June, a New York City religious congregation has landed financing to develop multifamily housing atop its worship space.

Property records filed this week show that Azimuth Development Group secured about $107 million in affordable-housing financing from the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) towards the construction of a new multifamily building on the site of the Bronx Pentecostal Deliverance Center, at 1755 Watson Avenue in the borough’s Soundview section. The church, through its partnership with Azimuth, arranged to have its lot rezoned last year to allow for the nine-story, 313,000-square-foot mixed-use complex it aims to put up at the site of its current church.

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The financing—at 35 years, exceptionally long in duration for a commercial project—is divided among a portion funded by tax-exempt bonds, a portion funded by a corporate loan from the HDC and a third piece sourced from a grant provided by New York City Housing Preservation & Development.

Upon completion, the structure will contain 326 apartments, almost 17,000 square feet of retail space and a 10,000-square-foot section for the Pentecostal congregation, according to building permits. The lease-up date is near the beginning of 2021, according to Anthony Richardson, the HDC’s senior vice president for development. Two-fifths of the apartments will lease at affordable rents. The site, currently occupied by a one-story church building for the religious group surrounded by a large parking, will retain 54 parking spaces after construction.

Last month, the Shaare Zedek synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan sold its building to developer Ornstein Leyton for $34 million, Commercial observer reported. The deal that will create a 9,000-square-foot religious space within a new 14-story building, with a $40 million mortgage from Bofi Federal Bank to finance the acquisition and construction.

The total development cost of the more ambitious Soundview project, on the other hand, is $132 million, Richardson said.

“It is safe to say that, given the robust demand we see anytime we develop affordable [housing], there’s a need for it across the city,” Richardson said. “Certainly, we’ve done a lot of work in the Bronx.”

The Pentecostal Deliverance Center sees its addition of affordable housing as a new way to serve its community, Bishop Clarence Jones, who leads the church, explained.

“We’ve been conscious about the status of affordable housing in the area, and we wanted to do something that would actually be able to help people,” Jones said. One portion of the new development will be reserved for senior citizens, he said. Until construction is done, the congregation will meet in a temporary space four blocks away.

Richardson affirmed that churches and affordable-housing developers make good partners because they share a community-minded purpose.

“There’s an alignment of mission, certainly. A lot of churches already facilitate programs that are intended to better their communities,” Richardson said. “Affordable housing is in that vein, trying to provide a resource. There is a fortuitous situation when [a church] actually has developable land.”

An inquiry to Azimuth was not immediately returned.