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What next for Geneva’s Trinity Episcopal Church? (video)

  • / Updated:
  • Megan Hatch 

After long negotiations and meetings, the Trinity Episcopal Church was officially sold to McGroarty Investments in early June.

Real estate developer Mark McGroarty now owns the church and two adjacent buildings.

According to the project description shared by Anne Nenneau, the chair of Geneva’s Industrial Development Agency, McGroarty plans to develop the property into a 29-room inn, 73-seat restaurant, and 195-seat event space while still allowing the current Trinity congregation to worship in the church.

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Plans in motion

“We’re completing architectural drawings and we received part one of our SHPO letter regarding our historic tax credits.”

Nenneau also sits on the Geneva Planning Board and has been familiar with the Trinity project for about two years.

The IDA approved a pilot program that will help them with their taxes for the first 15 years with a sliding scale that increases year after year.

“It’s a welcome addition to Geneva, it’s taken a vacant building, which is quickly deteriorating, and turning into useful and taxable take change it from a religious institution, which does not have property tax on it to a taxable entity,” said Nenneau.

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Some neighbors aren’t happy with the project

McGroarty explained that he had to fight a lot of pushback from the neighborhood when the process started in 2017.

“There was some pushback from about a dozen local residents which led to some court cases in which we persevered.”

“We neighbors felt the proposed project was inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood while agreeing that the church is a beautiful property and needs to be saved.” said neighbor Barbara Rokow.

“The proposed uses by the church and the developer were not consistent with the neighborhood. And none of those uses as well as the party house exist in the neighborhood at this time.”

According to Nenneau and IDA data, there will be an estimated tax exemption or abatement of roughly $2 million with the pilot program, based on current property tax rates and assessment values.

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Trinity’s congregation and priest support the project

Cameron Miller, the priest of the Trinity Episcopal Church, which has now moved to Castle Street, is excited about the project as he was the one to reach out to McGroarty in the first place when the church was deciding what to do with the property in 2016.

“The congregation had some grief about having to leave it but by the time we did there was a sense of excitement and gratitude,” said Miller.

Since leaving the church property, Trinity has gained about half of its congregation from the new property on Castle Street.

“Half the current congregation is new since this process started. When McGroarty finishes, we have a lease that says that we can worship there on Sunday mornings. So we have both this contemporary space and we’ll also have that more traditional space.”

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