The American Bible Society will sell its 12-story building on Broadway, vacating prime real estate in the heart of Manhattan that serves other evangelical ministries.
The society rents space to several New York-based evangelical organizations, such as Q Ideas, Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith & Work, the Museum of Biblical Art and Young Life. Through the years, the building had become a destination for Christians in the city.
The 200-year-old ABS first occupied the 1865 Broadway address in 1966 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Billy Graham. The organization has not made any decisions about a new location, but a spokesperson said it remained committed to New York City.
“The decision to sell the property was made to unlock the value of the site to further the mission of American Bible Society,” board Chairman Pieter Dearolf said in a statement. ”I believe we will always maintain a presence in New York City, the epicenter of American culture and commerce.”
ABS was last in the spotlight in January, when it named Roy Peterson to succeed Doug Birdsall as president. Birdsall was fired by the ABS board in October after only months on the job. He expressed surprise when he was told that ABS was selling the building.
“It’s the best Christian real estate in the country, some of the best Christian real estate in the world,” Birdsall said. “It may add to the financial assets, but it doesn’t necessarily expand the significance of the ministry.”
Birdsall pointed to other historic ministries that have waxed and waned in importance based on their location. For instance, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has declined since it moved from Manhattan to Louisville, Ky. After the Salvation Army tore down its London building and built a new one, it was able to create a self-sustaining international headquarters, by renting out part of the building, he said.
“Many ministries have left major cities for lower cost in other areas but often at the expense of ministry impact,” Birdsall said.
Birdsall estimated that ABS occupied about 40 percent of the building while it rented out the rest to other organizations. The land, he said, is likely worth around $300 million.
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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Sarah Pulliam Bailey