David vs Goliath: The Other Pilgrim Village Story

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.”