crenshaw church

The historic church on the corner of 96th street and Central Park West has been purchased by a developer who wants to tear out the interior and install apartments. That plan will have to pass muster with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In the meantime, the owners are removing asbestos, according to several people who live nearby, including one who lives next door and says she was told to close her windows. Councilman Mark Levine told us his office has been contacted by several people worried about the removal, and has been attempting to reach out to the contractor. We also attempted to contact a contractor for the property, but an email listed with the Department of Buildings was invalid. The Crenshaw Christian Center, formerly the First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built between 1899 and 1903. It’s made of Concord granite.

On Thursday, workers with a large inflatable rat stood outside the church protesting the asbestos removal. They told one our readers they are fighting New York Insulation, which has taken heat for other asbestos jobs in the past. They have circulated a video with their complaints.

Levine says he is skeptical that the church can be converted into condos without affecting the historical structure. For one thing, he noted, there are very few windows. “I’m deeply concerned that we don’t do anything that could mar this historic building.”

To learn more about the condo conversion, read this Daily News account and a more recent story that claims the new owner is already trying to flip the property.

Big rat on 96th
Photo by Naomi Serviss.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 14 comments | permalink
    1. Pedestrian says:

      Asbestos. Is dangerous. Unfortunately many people including coop boards, developers and even asbestos removal contractors continue to act as if it isn’t. Using unskilled workers with improper gear and improper training is dangerous not only to the public but to the workers themselves.

      The sad thing is that the attitude of many is: “why should we worry about asbestos and spend money now, the diseases it causes don’t generally appear until 25 to 30 years later.” The human lives asbestos has claimed, shorted and estrogen don’t matter to this typenofmperson becuase they will have made their money and be gone.

      The CITY isn’t agressive enough in following up on complaints. As a result, people get away with some very dangerous behavior but then its only humans who will become ill not billion dollar corporations.

    2. Scott says:

      Wait, I’ve seen that rat before. It has nothing to do with asbestos or public safety, it has to do with unions whining about non-union labor.

      • Walter says:

        Right you are about that, Scott. So, I would guess they’re using non-union labor. I wonder what precautions have been taken to protect these non-union workers from the dangers associated with asbestos. Dangerous indeed.

    3. N Mullen says:

      You note that the developer intends to tear out the interior. Do you know if the interior is landmarked (I know that generally interiors aren’t protected) and/or whether the interior is “worth” preserving?

      • Nick10025 says:

        Your are correct, the majority of the time interiors are not protected by landmarks. At this point they have a demo permit in hand, so it would be too late to try and save it (if it was worth saving).

    4. mto023 says:

      What is going to happen to the Tiffany windows?

    5. webot says:

      Personally I think the blow up Rats and their thinly failed intimidation / shakedown for corrupt unions should be outlawed.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        so you’re against freedom of speech and freedom of assembly? or only when it applies to working people?

        it’s interesting how many are returning to philosophies of the 1870s and 1880s.

        • webot says:

          Sheesh Brice –

          All for freedom of speech and assembly- something you clearly have a problem with when it is not the lefty party line.

          Freedom for pseudo gangsters to intimidate and shakedown others which adds to everyone’s cost, not so much…

    6. Paul RL says:

      My understanding is that the exterior and stained glass windows must be preserved because of its landmarked status. I think this would make for quite unique and beautiful condos. I’m looking forward to this development as I think it will help anchor the neighborhood. I would love to see the historic bank on Amsterdam and 96th Street (currently housing a CVS) developed as well. I believe that building is also landmarked.

    7. Bruce Bernstein says:

      this is in line with the conversion of “public space” to “private space”, and private space that only the rich can enjoy.

      Churches are a form of public space. in Manhattan and throughout NYC, these spaces are more and more being expropriated by the rich, for their own use.

      • webot says:

        At one of their clandestine meetings of rich people, they voted to take the “public spaces” of houses of worship for their own nefarious private uses. The next move is to take Central Park itself.

        or maybe the church decided to sell its building for the most money it could get….

        Either way, I do think the interior should be landmarked and/or the developer makes every effort to keep us much of it as possible – although that is challenge when clearly the interior would be divided for condo use. That said, if church is going to sell, its better then the building being demolished, which is often the case when the Archdiocese sells. They market their buildings as vacant development sites, as if the historic building is not there.

    8. TheRealNY says:

      Next up let’s convert grand central, trinity church, the Empire State Building, and you know what let’s just develop all of Central Park too!!