pictured: Pilgrim Missionary Baptist church and Rev. Bostic
Most of what the community has heard about Pilgrim Village Housing has had to do with its proposed redevelopment.
But there’s another story. One that involves land, deeds, manipulation and what could potentially bring a new meaning to gentrification to downtown Buffalo.
For some years now, Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church , 665 Michigan Ave., has been in litigation with the McGuire Group Corporation as it relates to the Pilgrim Village project located just steps from the Medical Corridor.
Rev. Frank Bostic, the savvy and determined Senior Pastor of Pilgrim, points out that the church was given the land in 197 4 and was given the green light to start development in 1978 of a 110-unit affordable housing complex.
The church, he said, was ultimately “manipulated by ungodly partners which has now resulted in this lawsuit because of fraudulent activity in the transferring of the land without the church’s permission.” However the courts have found that the Pilgrim does have legal standing to the ownership of the land. “The church and I understand the complexity of statute of limitations, but we also have recognized the manipulation that has occurred bringing us to this point,” continued Rev. Bostic.
He refers to his years long struggle as a “David vs. Goliath” battle. And now he is calling on the faith based community to stand and support him in this effort to get justice. Rev. Bostic said what prompted him to reach out for support to his fellow ministers was the offer that was made labeled “The Pilgrim Village Baptist Church Settlement Proposal.”
“They didn’t even have enough respect to get our church name right,” he said. “Then you want the pastor to be a slave ; speak where you want me to speak go where you want me go, say what you want me to say.”
The settlement included the immediate release of notice pending and discontinuance of all claims against McGuire; for the church and pastor to provide support and assistance reasonably requested by McGuire Including publicly supporting the sale, all rezoning requests and all development. Failure to do so would void payment obligations. Additionally the church and its pastor are not to visit the property (yet Rev. Bostic has members who live there) or the church loses any funds in a settlement.
“So if I already have the settlement they can come back and sue me for breach of the settlement! Do they think we’re dumb? And that’s what’s offensive, ” said Rev. Bostic
He said the settlement they offered was “racist and ignorant.”
“They offered me a settlement then insulted me, my church and the people in my community. We have over 801 documents that shows the church involvement.The deed that we had was called an unclear deed (in legal terms a clouded deed) – but the address goes back to 665 Michigan – the church.
“McGuire did a rush for deed – they took the land. I put an juction on the land so you can’t do nothing with it….They got the Cadillac but not the Keys!”
“I’ve been waiting three years and I don’t have to wait any longer,” continued Pastor Bostic. “Now I can stand. We have proof. We have facts. We’re not making anything up. We’re not living in lala dream land.”
What Pilgrim is basically seeking is influential and major involvement in the Pilgrim Village Project moving forward.
“All we ask is a seat at the table so that we would have influential say so – that would allow the church to talk so the community and allow members to say this is what we would like to see.”
“Development needs to be done,” he agreed. “The area needs to be fixed up. Properties were built in 1978 and falling apart. So I’m not against development. I’m for development! But I want the right people at the table. I have a right. The church has that right. The church’s claim to the money part is so we can do more investment… so we are part of this community.
“If we lose this battle,” Pastor Bostic concludes, “ this will bring a new meaning to gentrification to the downtown Buffalo area that will be negatively impactful to this Black community for years to come.
The approximate value of the Pilgrim Village project is well over $210 million.”