Abyssinian Baptist Church’s Powerful Real Estate Arm Suffering Economic Woes; City Leaders Call for Rev. Calvin Butts III to Come Clean About Problems

Rev. Calvin Butts, III, the church’s eminent pastor, did not shirk from the charges, but he cited several problems for the delinquency.
Rev. Calvin Butts, III, the church’s eminent pastor, did not shirk from the charges, but he cited several problems for the delinquency.

When it rains, it pours—at least that’s the deluge Abyssinian Development Corporation is experiencing nowadays. It was troubling enough to learn that the corporation, the real estate arm of the prestigious Abyssinian Baptist Church, had been denied more than $3 million in city contracts, but now there are reports that the corporation failed to pay out $2 million to East Harlem Triangle.

On the first matter, the corporation, according to a story in the New York Daily News last week, failed to submit three years of overdue tax filings and independent audits to the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services. The Rev. Calvin Butts III, the church’s eminent pastor, did not shirk from the charges, but he cited several problems for the delinquency.

“We had some bad leadership,” he told the Daily News. “We spent money on some things we didn’t need to spend money on, and we made some bad decisions.”

Apparently the corporation had helped to organize and facilitate the sale of the Pathmark supermarket they co-owned on 125th Street to Extell Development for $39 million last year but did not pay the East Harlem Triangle its share of the nonprofit proceeds.

“We want to know where our money went,” Derrick Taitt, board chairman of the East Harlem Triangle, told the Daily News.

Repeated calls to Butts’ office at the church were not returned by the pastor, and at press time he had said nothing about the East Harlem Triangle situation.

“Obviously, we are very concerned about the gravity of these situations because Abyssinian Baptist Church and the Abyssinian Development Corporation are valuable and critical institutions in our community,” said Lloyd Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, in a telephone interview. “I am hoping that the city and Mayor [Bill] de Blasio can meet with the Rev. Butts and resolve this situation. I think it’s doable, so let’s make it happen.”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Frost Illustrated / the New York Amsterdam News – Herb Boyd