church 96th3

What sort of party do you throw for a long-vacant church whose new owners want to turn it into a condominium? Why, a vigil of course!

Preservationist group Landmark West plans to hold a vigil on Monday night at 8 p.m. at the Northwest corner of 96th street and Central Park West to draw attention to the drawn-out process to convert the church on that corner (formerly the First Church of Christ, Scientist and later the Crenshaw Church) into a condo complex. The landmarked church won approval last year from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to be filled with apartments. The inside was gutted.

But it’s been held up since then at the Board of Standards and Appeals, which grants exceptions to the zoning code. The BSA has been mulling this project for months, and reports came out in March that the developer had decided to drop the idea for now. But the BSA is continuing to review it and another vote is now set for June 2.

Landmark West also says the public should be especially vigilant because of the involvement of lobbyists in attempting to get the deal approved. Their flyer about their opposition is here.

The still-open question is: what will this vacant property become if this project fails?

HISTORY, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 13 comments | permalink
    1. The Bloomberg administration constantly promoted selling off library sites in real estate deals, leaving the libraries in the ground floors (and basements) of new buildings. This church could make the greatest library built in New York in 100 years, 1,000 times better than the UWS library a few blocks away.

      The residents of New York have never been richer than they are today. Why can’t we build new libraries as good as the old ones? Or at least put one of them in a great old building that’s being thrown away.

      • cMa says:

        A bit of history: those old library buildings were built by Andrew Carnegie (to give back to people some of the millions he’s made off their backs; education became important to him) and given to NYPL with the proviso that NYC fund and maintain them in perpetuity.
        See heading: Creating the Neighorhood Libraries in the History of NYPL, .
        It takes a LOT of money to build a new library.
        What you and others can do now is write to the mayor and ask him to fund library services to meet increasing demands for services and programs. Funding is still below the 2008 level. .

      • I went to the vigil and found out that there is a church that would like to use the church as a church! So I take back what I said, because that would be the highest and best use. It was moving to hear former parishioners describe how important the church had been in their lives.

    2. dannyboy says:

      Another repurpose of a Church. So many Schools and Hospitals have been converted that I try to imaging a future without them. Repurposing playground next?

    3. Jay says:

      Landmark West are not preservationists. They are a group that want this landmark to fall apart from neglect, like the Metro Theater.

    4. Great building if you can find a use for it. A non profit like Landmark West should buy it. As a meeting hall and multi-purpose building, it could be rented to the community board and other users of meeting, event and office space. It could be used as a polling site and poll worker training facility. Landmark West could move their offices into the building and save the cost of renting. Local government such as council members and the community board could also move in. Other uses could be for recycling and swap events.

      A participatory budgeting grant from the City Council members of the adjoining districts could provide some of the funding towards renovation. The rents collected from users could help pay day to day expenses such as utilities and mortgage. It would still need subsidies to make it work.

      The developer could also do all of the above or sell it at cost. The city could pick up the property at eminent domain prices and start the process rolling.

    5. Neighbor says:

      Two non-profits wanted/want to acquire this church building. The present variance application does not meet any of the findings required for approval. The church is c. 5 feet from the property line, not the 30 ft. required of a multiple dwelling on this type of lot. The developer’s desire to cut huge curtain windows out of the 2-foot granite walls will create health problems for neighbors, many of whom are children 12 feet away.

      Good adaptive use of this building: YES!
      THIS condo plan: NO!

      • jay says:

        I’ve heard this before. Every time I’ve asked for details, like who is interested and if they have the needs and resources to buy the building, all I hear is silence.

        Be a good neighbor and provide some facts and details.

    6. Ground Control says:

      Several news articles as well as the public record from the BSA hearings have shown that the Children’s Museum was very seriously interested in buying the church. The church was never marketed by the current owners and still the Children’s Museum stepped forward with serious interest. Yes, they are in a position to do it. From what I’ve read, the developers are looking for extraordinary profits, which can only be had with luxury condos. Seems to me they should have picked a building that conformed to their use-rather than pick a landmark with very little floor to window ratio that does not fit this use.
      But whether or not anyone thinks the current plan by the developer should go ahead because its thought it preserves the building, the developer’s plan thus far does not meet the regulatory findings of the zoning board!! It becomes a matter of whether or not the zoning board/BSA follows the facts and the law. I believe they will. And there is no question that this plan radically alters a in a very heavy handed manner a century old designated landmark. In addition, the property rights of the adjacent building are at stake. Multiple dwellings are to have 30′ between property lines-the church is 5′ from the adjacent proper line.

      • Jay says:

        Seems like the Children’s Museum is no longer interested, if they ever were.

        Google doesn’t have any other information on the Children’s Museum’s interest or any other non-profit interest. Care to share anything verifiable?

        Variances are given all the time for non-conformity to the zoning laws. Did you see the article in the Times this weekend detailing all the buildings that don’t fit within our current zoning laws. Don’t act as though this is some huge earth shattering event.

    7. Dismayed says:

      Very disappointed to see snark replace responsible reporting. Developer’s application doesn’t meet requirements for granting variances–that’s why the BSA hasbn’t approved it. Why the BSA is still “mulling this project” is the story.

      • dannyboy says:

        WSR is irreverent and effective. The WSJ is “responsible reporting”. See what’s happening ?

    8. I live in Central Park Gardens and my kitchen window view and balcony view is of Central Park and the back of the church. Building a condo complex will mess up our view to a degree. But as a Real Estate Agent for Corcoran Group, i must admit we need it. 360 CPW did not have any Studios under $800k, and their 1BR are all over $1450 per square foot, asking for over $1.1M. So if the Attorney General approves the plans and prices range from 600K upwards in schedule A, then 27 year olds like myself and my fiancĂ©, who have lived in this very neighborhood for over 22 years, would be able to put money down to remain residents in our favorite neighborhood in nyc. I certainly hope so. I specialize in New Development in the UWS and the evelyn is asking $4M+ for their units and they haven’t even been released yet, 175W95 was a conversion that completely sold out in a year’s time, 272W86 is a boutique building who’s cheapest apt# is $4M, etc. So i truly pray and wish for something we can afford! And low Common charges, nothing over $2k/month.