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 provides 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. The former director 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
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, Kentucky. 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.
estimated that ABS occupied about 40 percent of the building and rented
out the rest to other organizations. The land, he said, is likely worth around
$300 million. “The base of the building could itself be a gold mine given the
astronomical level of retail rents in the area,” reports Cranes New York Business.