Harlem pastor accused of illegally selling church for $175K — when it’s possibly worth $2 million

A Harlem pastor accused of selling his church for a song is now singing the blues.

The Holy Cross African Orthodox Church, a longtime local fixture in its W. 129th St. townhouse, is the center harlem5n-10-webof a holy war started by recently-defrocked Bishop Alfred Drake’s last-ditch land deal.

Drake claimed he was tricked in the $175,000 sale, while top church officials said he had no business peddling the property at all — much less for a fraction of its possible $2 million worth.

“That’s a paltry sum for that type of building,” Drake admitted during a recent appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court. “What was I supposed to do?”

Real estate values are exploding in Central Harlem, where the church has welcomed worshipers since 1931.

The bishop said he sold the five-story building because the church was desperate for cash. The roof needed fixing, while utility bills and building department fines were mounting.

“That’s a paltry sum for that type of building,” Drake admitted during a recent appearance in Manhattan Supreme Court. “What was I supposed to do?”

Real estate values are exploding in Central Harlem, where the church has welcomed worshipers since 1931.

The bishop said he sold the five-story building because the church was desperate for cash. The roof needed fixing, while utility bills and building department fines were mounting.

The church also owed $20,000 in property taxes — because Drake allowed its tax-exempt status to expire.

Enter Harlem neighbor Andrade (Andy) Newby and his Queens-based group, the Positive Youth Organization. Drake said he cut a deal with Newby that the bishop claimed was billed as a “good marriage” between the church and the group.

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By Barbara Ross | July 5, 2015

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