“Our church, Inspirational Ministries at United Palace, has been the steward of the 175th Street Loews Theatre / United Palace since Rev. Ike purchased it for his congregation in 1969 when the building faced an uncertain future. The church has spent enormous amounts of money over the years maintaining the Palace without government support. In December the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the United Palace a landmark, over our objections. Now any interior or exterior work we do that requires a permit from the Department of Buildings will also trigger LPC review, even though only the exterior was landmarked.
After consulting a dozen previously landmarked buildings uptown and around the city, we have reaffirmed our understanding that the LPC review process adds time and cost to renovation projects. Landlords - public and private - described the designation as “burdensome,” “complicated,” and “annoying.” This takes away valuable resources for the programming we provide now and continue to expand. Unlike some other private buildings that can leverage the landmark designation to increase public funding, as a building that is owned by a religious organization we will continue to be ineligible for capital funding from the city.
We are touched by the outpouring of concern from the public, supporters’ fears that the Palace could someday be demolished or altered beyond recognition. Contrary to what has circulated online the building is not in danger, demolition is not imminent, and there are no plans for compromising the architectural integrity of the exterior or selling the building. We have cared for the Palace for nearly 50 years and will continue to for the foreseeable future. It is our legacy. We love this building as much as you do.
To guarantee its preservation we offer to enter into a binding agreement with the city pledging our continued fidelity to the building’s historic character and requiring future owners to do the same. This will “save” the building “forever,” which is the promise of the LPC. What we do ask is that after 48 years the church may preserve its right to have full control over its building in order to best continue its mission of serving the community, which is why we hope City Council will rescind the landmark designation.
If you really want to help the United Palace continue to flourish then visit our programs and events. As the message on the building has stated for decades: ‘Come on in or smile as you pass.’”
President, United Palace
Spiritual Director, United Palace House of Inspiration
Founder, United Palace of Cultural Arts