Lifedome Cinema Ministries On ‘Life Support’ To Lose Church
A Bronx congregation and a real estate company are locked in a legal battle over ownership of the church building.
The church claims a real estate company grabbed the building away from it, but the company claims the church is trying to avoid paying owed rent.
The battle is being waged in Bronx Supreme Court, where Lifedome Cinema Ministries is suing Mohamad Saad and his Barack Real Estate Corp., which provided financial help when the church was on the verge of being evicted.
Attorney Joe Altman, who represents Saad, said the church is trying to avoid paying the $156,000 it owes in back rent.
According to the lawsuit, the church faced eviction from its building at 3942-3950 White Plains Road and invited Saad and his company to invest in the building, which includes retail stores, to save the church.
“My client has been very patient,” Altman said. “The church has been there a long time and didn’t pay their rent.
“The property was foreclosed and the church entered into an agreement to pay rent to my client, but they haven’t paid anything.”
Bishop Alexander Kissi said the company has reneged on the deal.
“We got stabbed in the back,” he said. “We have a commitment on the table to buy back the property, but they want to throw the church out of our own building.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Saad was slated to hold the title on the property for one year to give the church more time to save money to buy it back.
Saad also agreed to allow the church to continue to sublet space to the existing stores and pay $20,000 a month in rent.
The church claims in the suit that it had relied on a promise from Saad to renovate and enlarge the stores to attract more retail to the property but that after the deal was in place he refused to comply.
“Lifedome needed financial help and thought they found it,” said Lifedome’s attorney, Surajudeen Agbaje. “The new owners reneged on the deal and the church is trying to compel them to honor the agreement, but they refuse.”
Church officials said they owned the church building for more than seven years and held church services and missionary activities in the building for more than 13 years before they ran into financial troubles.