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Crescent Heights neighborhood working to save historic church

ST. PETERSBURG — The Crescent Heights Neighborhood Association says it wants to save one of the area's historic buildings from demolition.

The association says the American Baptist Church of the Beatitudes, at 2812 Eighth St. N, is being sold to a local developer, who plans to demolish it and build single family homes. The neighborhood says it's trying to work with the church and buyer to preserve the sanctuary part of the facility, built in 1928.

The church's pastor, the Rev. Phillip Miller-Evans, said his congregation of 59 faced bankruptcy without the pending sale.

"It was heartbreaking for us to come to that decision. We certainly do that with a heavy heart," he said. "We are still negotiating with a local congregation about sharing space with them."

Miller-Evans said he believes there's already an understanding about saving the historic sanctuary.

"The developer, the church and the neighborhood, we have sat down and talked together and we believe that's already been resolved," he said, adding that the developer "has agreed to work with the neighborhood on the development of that parcel that the sanctuary stands on."

Nonetheless, the Crescent Heights Neighborhood Association plans to meet at the church at 12:15 p.m. Saturday to create "heart bombs," letters to historic places written on large, colorful paper hearts.

"Then we're going to take a big group picture in front of the church," neighborhood president Jennifer Wright said. "We are used to having this beautiful sanctuary in our neighborhood. The church has been so generous to serve as a polling location and an event place and I believe others in surrounding areas would be devastated to lose this church that has been in our neighborhood since 1928."

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