Our Lady of Vilnius Church, built by families of immigrant Lithuanian longshoremen, started out a century ago as a beloved worship space. Now, it’s a coveted real estate asset.
In 2013, six years after the church was closed, it was sold for $13 million to one of the city’s biggest developers. The following year, that company flipped it like a pancake to another developer for $18.4 million.
Now the yellow brick church near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel awaits demolition to make way for an 18-story luxury apartment house.
“It makes you cynical,” says Christina Nakraseive, a former parishioner who supported the legal case against the church closing until it was rejected by the state’s highest court. “It seems like it’s all about real estate.”
The issue has taken on added significance since the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, citing declining attendance, rising costs, and a looming priest shortage, announced plans to merge scores of parishes and close dozens of churches this year.