Body Lawson Associates Architects & Planners

Body Lawson Associates Architects & Planners Diversity Badge

Black owned

New York, NY


BDB Construction Enterprise Revitalizes Bronx Community with New Mixed-Use Church Complex

May 17, '24 11:10 AM EST

Industrial structure adapted for LaGree Baptist Church reimagines the 1925 brick-clad building as a spiritual and commercial hub with a community center and high-tech sanctuary

THE BRONX, N.Y. — The leading national building company BDB Construction Enterprise has announced the completion of an adaptive reuse project converting a three-story, 1925 former manufacturing building into the home for a church along with community and commercial uses. Offering opportunities for spiritual uplift in the Melrose neighborhood of the South Bronx, the sensitive adaptation also brings economic revitalization through its new commercial rental spaces and mix of uses.

Opening this winter, the 31,000-square-foot LaGree Baptist Church building both recaptures the original concept of the wood-framed structure that has been lost over the years as it reinvents the interiors for the house of worship and offers the community new commercial rental spaces on the ground and third levels. Working to stabilize the historic building while also integrating new and modern elements, BDB Construction has collaborated with Body Lawson Associates Architects and Planners (BLA), designer of the adaptive reuse.

“As a specialist in conversions and renovations, BDB Construction is honored to complete this unique project that respects and reinforces this New York City neighborhood as it also reenergizes the social and commercial fabric for area residents,” says Tallal Bhutta, founder and CEO of BDB Construction Enterprise. “We congratulate the architect and the leadership of LaGree Baptist Church for their vision and commitment to this Bronx community.”

The new facilities, which open to the congregation later this year to welcome congregants and new tenants, include a number of state-of-the-art elements to accommodate all unique individuals on their spiritual journeys. “The building contains a sanctuary with a capacity of 211 seats as well as a fellowship hall with a table seating capacity for 152 that can be arranged flexibly according to the needs of the church,” says Victor Body-Lawson, FAIA, principal of BLA, adding that the cellar includes space for storage for both the church and commercial tenants.

According to BDB’s Bhutta, the prominent project aims to recover some of the original detailing and expression of the classic industrial loft structure, enhancing elements such as its large arched windows on the first floor with fireproof translucent glazing. Behind the arching openings, the sanctuary invites worshipers with wood finishes, an acoustical ceiling installation, and all-new audiovisual systems so that church leaders can broadcast services and events to homebound or traveling parishioners.

Just beyond the sloped volume of the sanctuary’s 34-foot clear span, which occupies about half of the first floor, the project team created adjacent retail storefront spaces. On the second and third floor are church offices, rentable spaces, and the fellowship hall, which lead to a planted green rooftop and a playground on the fourth level to promotes outdoor social activities and community wellness. Two new elevators and stairwells allow for comfortable circulation and egress, an active design feature encouraging increased usage and healthful activity for churchgoers.

“Our new home has really changed the block and the way it looks, and people have been so happy to see this project happening and to know that a church where they may worship is coming to their neighborhood,” says Rev. Laura Rivers, an associate minister who has been with LaGree Baptist Church for over 20 years. “We have had so many compliments on how the building looks, and our sanctuary is very nice, as is the office upstairs, and the roof is a wonderful and safe outdoor space. We hope our membership will grow as we become a productive asset for the neighborhood.”

Known for diverse and innovative conversion projects that meet client goals and vision, BDB Construction Enterprise has earned a reputation for meeting all schedule and budget requirements. The company offers a wide range of services from preconstruction through operations and maintenance, and has been recognized by leading developers, real estate companies, institutions, and commercial end-users as a successful leader in its field. 

“Tallal consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the project and showed excellent judgment when making decisions under pressure. His skill in conveying complex information in an understandable way aided in LaGree Baptist Church's productivity and collaboration,” says assistant church clerk and youth leader Sade Williams, who volunteers for their Back to School program with events and a backpacks giveaway for area schoolchildren. “Tallal has shown a remarkable level of responsibility and dependability throughout, staying consistent and still by our side until the end. We are glad to have worked with him on this.”

Rev. Laura Rivers adds, “Tallal Bhutta goes beyond what he is required to do, and he is patient, approachable, reassuring, and takes pride in what he does. His whole focus is to make the client happy.”

Acclaimed for its diverse project portfolio and consistently elevated professional capabilities, BDB Construction offers a proven track record and longstanding relationships with many clients, reflecting its unmatched commitment to excellence — and delivering on every promise. As reported recently by the U.K.’s Construction Today Magazine, “One specialist in the sector, BDB Construction, is working twice as hard to get ahead of the curve for clients. Specializing in conversion and renovation of existing buildings, Tallal Bhutta is an expert in getting the job done quickly.”