Yankee Reliever Mariano Rivera Looking to Buy and Rehabilitate Dilapidated Church in New Rochelle

Written By: Robert Cox

MoGrillYankee pitcher Mariano Rivera is asking the New Rochelle City Council to consider a proposal under which the future Hall of Fame reliever would purchase for $1 a church building located on North Avenue, next door to the New Rochelle police station.

Under the plan, the full details of which have been shared with the City but not yet made public, Rivera would rehabilitate the existing structure which would remain a church but also serve as the home for a community center offering educational support services for area students. Rivera’s church is Refugio de Esperenza.

This is hardly Rivera’s first such project.

Through the Mariano Rivera Foundation, the Yankee star has built school cafeterias in Puerto Caimito and La Chorrera Panama, and provided hot lunches at a rural Panamanian elementary school. Money has been donated to the Panamanian National Program “Escuelas Ranchos – Escuelas Dignas” which focuses on education for children from the indigenous communities and poor urban areas and for the construction of schools in rural areas of Panama. With the assistance of The Mariano Rivera Foundation Houses of Worship have been built in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Panama and The United States.

Rivera’s deep commitment to his faith is well-known. He has previously announced plans to become a evangelical minister after he retires from baseball. The Mariano Rivera Foundation annually distributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to underprivileged children in the US and Panama through church-based institutions.

“Mariano liked the location because it is in an area that is centrally located to reach a diverse group of students”, said former City Council member Joe Fosina who is working with Rivera to bring the plan to fruition.

Fosina said that Rivera is proposing to put up his own money for the project. The Church would be used for prayer services on Sunday, making use of the parking lot at City Hall which is largely unused over the weekend.


The Rivera/Church proposal may be considered at the next City Council meeting.

“The cost to the City to tear down the building and convert the space to a parking lot for the New Rochelle police would be close to half-a-million”, said Council Member Louis Trangucci who is aware of the plan. “The property is already off the tax roll so the sale of the property for use as a church would have no material impact on property taxes”.

Some critics have expressed concern that the property, estimated to be worth over a million dollars, is being given away at a time when the City of New Rochelle is strapped for cash.

“The property as zoned is worth over a million dollars,” said one real estate expert which did not wish to be identified.

UPDATE: City Manager Chuck Strome informs Talk of the Sound that the City is currently reviewing proposals but cannot sell the property until it has been appraised. Once the appraisal is done, the matter will be brought before Council.

“The decision to put the property out under RFP came from the City Council,” added Strome. “Council will have the opportunity to review all proposals before any decision is made.”

Talk of the Sound has learned that the City put out a Request for Proposal to buy the property only to churches with the intention of putting an RFP to developers if no churches responded. Three two churches did respond, including Rivera and one from Rev. Hudson of the Union Baptist Church which was destroyed by a massive fire. Correction — Bezer Holiness Church was the second church. There was one late application.

Stones and masonry from the bell tower at the Church began to fall off last summer and on August 10th, 2010 a company was hired to dismantle the tower. The stone was given to the contractor as part of the deal and the estimated value of the stone was deducted from the cost. The precise terms of the deal have not been made public.

NorthAveChurch BellTower03

NorthAveChurch BellTower02

Rivera is a deeply religious man. According to an article in the Baseball Almanac, Rivera has financed the construction of a church in Panama City, Panama and said that after the end of his baseball career he intends to become an evangelical minister.

His Wikipedia entry says that Rivera is “involved with philanthropic contributions in his native Panama, which include building an elementary school and a church, providing Christmas gifts to children, and developing a program that provides computer access and adult mentors to youths. The Mariano Rivera Foundation annually distributes more than US$500,000 to underprivileged children in the US and Panama through church-based institutions. Rivera intends to dedicate himself to philanthropy after retiring from baseball.

RELATED: Mo’s Grill, New Rochelle Restaurant Owned by Yankee Reliever Mariano Rivera is Closed, May Re-Open in May

8 thoughts on “Yankee Reliever Mariano Rivera Looking to Buy and Rehabilitate Dilapidated Church in New Rochelle”

  1. Are they kidding ????????
    Is this going to be another back room deal like the Ecco Bay project ? This land belongs to the citizens of New Rochelle, who is representing the citizens, people who haven’t made a profitable real estate deal for the city yet ? I’m not directing this to the newest council members since they had no say in the past real estate disasters.
    Regarding former City Council member Joe Fosina doesn’t he or didn’t he work for Mariano Rivera and isn’t Mr. Fosina’s son partners with Mr. Rivera in the restaurant Mo’s ? How is it that Mr. Forina and Mr. Rivera knew this property was on the market when to my knowledge nobody else knew except from what they say one more New Rochelle Church. If they sent out an RFP to churches, when was it done and how many churches were notified ?
    The land is currently off the tax rolls due to the fact that the City owns it, wouldn’t it make sense to sell it to a tax paying entity instead of selling it for $1.00 to a non paying entity. The purchase price is an insult and in a economic downturn shouldn’t the City look to make money or are they just going to raise taxes again ?
    This property is contigous to the Police Station, Court House and City Hall parking lot, anyone who has visited City Hall knows you can’t find a parking spot due to the fact that most of the spots are taken by employees of the City. Wouldn’t it make sense to keep the property for future decked parking ?
    The Citizens of New Rochelle should be outraged by this.

  2. Another abandoned and neglected city owned property!
    Nothing but good comes out of this.

    As the building stands now, its another abandoned and neglected city owned property waiting for demolition which might be what city hall wants so they can expand the parking lot.

    It’s about time we do something to preserve the past. Let’s take the dollar & move on!

    And as for the property being worth $1 million that’s laughable, aside from the fact that its practically falling down its a small lot w/no parking. If some re broker thinks its worth money, let him/her pony up and start writing the checks.

    1. I’ll double the offer to $2.00
      Dear Fifth Avenue Guy,

      If you read the article you would see that the intended use is for a Church, not to extend the inadequate existing parking lot. That would make to much sense.

      1. I did read the article and
        I did read the article and think it should made/kept a church and not more parking for city hall. I personally think if there’s a shortage of parking at city hall, they should lay off a few people.

        The building is a disaster and may take a Million or 2 to bring it back to life, just how much do you think its worth? Certainly not the investment that its going to take to bring back which is why I’d support Rivera taking on this project, he has the money and apparently wants to do it for some reason.

        Also I don’t know if the property was ever on the tax rolls, wasn’t it a religous school before the city purchased it to build the new police station?

      2. Value
        There is no way I can estimate the value of the property since it was combined into the police / court house property.
        As you know the city has no money, why they would seek out a tax free entity is beyond my belief. They have a obligation to the taxpayer to sell that property for its highest and best use which will gererate an income for the city and lessen the tax burden on its citizens. The City has the ability to zone the property for the use that will bring the most bang for the buck. Wouldn’t you agree ?
        I wonder what the taxpayers paid for it when the city bought it, I would bet it wasn’t $1.00 so how much money will be lost here ?

      3. Unless you find someone that
        Unless you find someone that wants to rehab the building, the property is worthless in its current condition so what tax benefits could the city ever hope to achieve? Another vacant lot? Another boarded up North Ave property? Who in their right mind is going to invest that kind of money in New Rochelle? I don’t think there would be alot of takers. Oh yeh, whoever undertakes this is going to want tax abatements for 20-30 years so what’s the point of even going down that road?

        I would have preferred it if the city had maintained the building properly for the last 15 years and this is what you get when you have bad/poor property management. Your (& mine) tax dollars at work (or not at work).

        The property was purchased to build the new police station back in the 90’s. What it cost is anyone’s guess. I know the city bonded/borrowed millions to build the station at a time when the coffers were flush w/the money generated from the sales tax Idoni passed.

      4. Development
        Dear Fifth Avenue Guy,

        As I said, we don’t know what is for sale since the church roperty is part of the courthouse / police station.
        I think there are lot of people out ther who would love to have a chance to buy this property and there would be no tax incentives involved. The only deals with tax incentives were deals that the city made and we know how those turned out.
        Out of the three private deals on Weyman Avenue, I brokered two of them (Harley Davidson & Safeguard Self Storage), I represented the sellers and both of those companies are paying full taxes and never had any tax breaks. Everybody made money, even the citizens of New Rochelle.
        The city needs to stay out of the real estate business and seek the advice of the professionals.

  3. Another bright idea
    Does New Rochelle need another church? Why not put requests out to developers and put this property back on the tax rolls? How long before this place gets turned over to the tax payers after its a so called communty center i remember the childerns libray theme no taxpayers dollars well did anyone look at the libarys budget as of late. We the taxpayers are paying for it in full! Yeah Yeah i hear all you so called faith folks but this building has been sitting idle for many years and no one wanted it and now the city puts out proposals for a church and you can have for a buck well Hell yeah there going to come out. Let,s get the IDA in on the act and we will strart really losing money. Another bright idea New Rochelle Vote them all out in 2011

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