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September 14, 2013- The FiDi subcommittee of the CB1 met to discuss the controversial plans of the Trinity Church to build a residential and cooperate skyscraper across the street for the historic church. This is far from the first controversy that church leader, Reverend James Cooper, has stirred up.
The Catholic Church usually comes to mind when one thinks of large landowners in Manhattan, but the Episcopal Anglican Trinity Church is the richest of them all, according to The NY Post. The article lists all of the properties held by the church, ranging from the site where the skyscrapers are planned to the reverend’s personal SoHo townhouse worth more than $5 Million. The total portfolio is worth more than $1 Billion.
According to the article, “Today, Trinity’s holdings — in addition to the church and nearby St. Paul’s Chapel — include 14 commercial buildings in the Hudson Square area of Manhattan. The revenue from the rents is some $200 million a year, which pays the operating expenses of the commercial properties and funds the operations of the church.”
The Post article portrays the reverend as man spending less on charitable mandates than on his pawn profligacy. The 67-year-old Cooper was paid $1.3 Million in 2010, including perks such as a Florida condo with maintenance fees, and African safaris paid for by the church.
The 22-mmeber board of the church has been upset, and half of them have either quit or been ousted. Cooper panned to step down, then reconsidered, subsequently targeting the members who criticized him.
Despite the largess of real estate possessed by the church and millions spent each year of PR campaigns, Reverend Cooper leads a small flock. One person counted only 49 people in the pews, then noticed that the church reported 113, counting tourists who wandered in.
The Post explains the history of the church, “Trinity Church opened its doors in 1698 at Broadway and Wall Street, chartered by King William III of England. Seven years later, Queen Anne gave the church a wide swath of land, 215 acres that stretched from Wall to Christopher streets and the banks of the Hudson. George Washington and Alexander Hamilton worshipped at Trinity, and Hamilton is buried in its graveyard on Trinity Place. The original church burned down in 1776 as the British took Manhattan, but was rebuilt twice. The current Gothic Revival brownstone church, with its distinctive spire, opened in 1846.” (Note, the church leader is the “rector”, which is where Rector Street and Place get their names).