By Carol Tannenhauser
Monday, July 18, 2022
Thunderstorms, High 84 degrees, 70% chance of rain.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner.
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All eyes are on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, July 19, at 9:30 am, to take the next step towards deciding the fate of the West Park Presbyterian Church. The hearing will be livestreamed on Zoom.
West Park is the 132-year-old, red-sandstone church on the corner of West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue: the one with the tall tower and the 20-year-old sidewalk shed.
It was landmarked in 2010, but the owner — claiming financial hardship — is applying to have the landmark designation removed, so the church can be demolished and sold to a developer who plans to build a 19-story condominium on the site.
The current owner is the congregation of the church, 12 or so remaining members who say the building has decayed beyond a reasonable possibility of repair, a claim opponents hotly contest (though they have yet to make public a concrete plan for financing the millions of dollars estimated to be needed to repair the church’s facade and interior.)
The planned new building would have a 10,000-square-foot space for the congregation and the performing arts group that is currently leasing space in the church. The selling price for the church is about $30 million, which would go to the broader Presbyterian Church, not the West Park congregation, though it would get an endowment.
The Commission held an initial hearing on June 14, but said it would take some additional time to study the presentations and public testimony made at that session, as well as written comments. Tuesday’s session could be decision time, with the LPC voting to either grant or reject the church’s request to do away with the landmark designation. Or, as is always possible, there could be another postponement.
Join the Zoom meeting using the link below:
Or Dial in using the numbers below
646 558 8656 US (New York)
877 853 5257 US Toll-free
888 475 4499 US Toll-free
Webinar ID: 868 9794 8074
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City Councilmember Gale Brewer has organized a press conference/rally to save the West Park Presbyterian Church (that is, to reject the church’s bid to cancel its landmark status) for today, Monday, July 18, at 11 am. It will be held on the southeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, across the street from the church. In addition to Brewer, speakers will include Rep. Jerry Nadler [Will Carolyn Maloney show up?], and historians, preservationists, architects, attorneys, and neighbors. We are not certain whether representatives from the other side will be there, although some were for the rally preceding the first hearing.
“Actor Nathan Lane, who, on Hulu’s ‘Only Murders in the Building,’ portrays a resident of an Upper West Side co-op building that was the site of a suspicious killing, just picked up a real-life co-op at West 71st and Broadway,” The Real DealNY reported. “Lane and his husband, writer Devlin Elliott, paid $4.1 million for a unit in The Dorilton at 171 West 71st Street, records show, slightly above its $3.95 million ask.”
“Miki Naftali is ready to take a wrecking ball to an Upper West Side apartment building that he plans to convert to luxury condos — he’s filed demolition plans. But the building’s lone holdout tenant says he isn’t going anywhere,” The Real DealNY also reported. “Naftali offered Ahmet Ozsu $30,000 to vacate the market-rent penthouse he has occupied since 2006 at 215 West 84th Street. Ozsu turned it down, looking for ‘a seven-figure payout,'” Naftali claims. Ozsu has been holding out since June of 2021, according to The New York Times, despite an eviction notice, a lawsuit, and an industrial air filter placed in front of his door. He told The Times, “‘It’s two things: I have the right to be here, and I have no place to go.’”
“Construction has resumed on 50 West 66th Street, a 69-story, 775-foot-tall residential skyscraper on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Designed by Snøhetta and developed by Extell Development Company, the tower will yield 127 condominium units and claim the title of the tallest building north of 59th Street,” YIMBY reported. “No recent news indicates any change in design, so we can expect the sleek exterior to maintain its composition of floor-to-ceiling glass, limestone panels, and bronze cladding.” Click the link for renderings.
What is with the church conversion on 81st street, between Amsterdam and Columbus? It has been going on for a very long time.
I often wonder this too. They have a security guard posted outside all the time but I don’t see anything else happening
Brewer is clearly slightly obsessed with saving this church that most people do not want. She seems to be spending a lot of time on this without presenting concrete solutions to the problem – if she had a real answer about raising money to save it I might be willing to listen to her.
And this morning I saw her on NY1 talking about the dark stores. I have some questions about these but again, not a high priority in my life. But from what she said, she is investing a lot of resources into fighting them.
Meanwhile, more reports of crime in the neighborhood, people don’t feel safe, schools are having major issues. But Gail focuses on what Gail wants to focus on and never misses a photo op. Bless her heart.
It can’t be said often enough: She’s been in office every single day since the church was landmarked and she’s done nothing.
And the “dark stores?” At least they treat their employees as employees with overtime, workers’ comp, etc. (the opposite of seamless and grubhub), while paying rents, taxes, and adding economic activity.
Why this obsession with private property restoration when the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is allowed to deteriorate?
I’m sorry *you* don’t feel the plight of small businesses and historic preservation in a neighborhood where half the buildings fall in a historic district are important issues, but I can assure you, they are to many of us on the UWS who have lived here for a long time. Gale is more than capable of addressing more than a handful of issues simultaneously, especially as they are not mutually exclusive.
A political rally, taking one side on a problem a day before a crucial vote, while there isn’t even a general, imperfect, could-be-off-by-30% agreement what this is actually going to cost and who’s footing the bill.
Politicians are useless.
If that’s so, you’re completely right. See you tomorrow morning at the meeting.
Other than the posters on here who rail against the removal of landmark status (and I suspect they oppose it for more than just aesthetic reasons) no one in the area I’ve spoken to opposes tearing it down. Everyone appreciates the place is falling in on itself, and as a landmarked building will cost millions to repair and millions more to maintain moving forward. The congregation does not have the money, and those most adamant about keeping the church intact have done nothing in 12 years to raise money for even partial repair. The Center at West Park which claims to have made a fair offer (according to its most recent filing with NYSAG’s office its $200k in the hole) has never released the actual dollar figure of its allegedly “fair” offer, so given its precarious situation the bona fides of any offer would seem suspect. Of course, an eight figure repair job would only be the beginning, the structure would have to be operated and maintained, and that will likely run at least seven figures per year. Ms. Brewer et al seem to be trying to shake down the congregation to accept a knock down offer so that “city money” can be released to a non-religious entity. What she neglects to mention is the City Council must approve and the mayor has to sign off before any money is forthcoming. I don’t think any reasonable person foresees the City Council, a body of 50 other members, approving $xxm or so to repair and maintain the church, when each of them has his/her own pet local projects far more necessary for re-election than steering $xx million to the UWS.
Three new housing developments facing cancellation or delay. In what I’m sure is totally unrelated news, the average rent in Manhattan is now over $5,000 per month for the first time.
That $5K rent per month is actually very misleading. It only refers to apartments currently on the market available to be rented.
If you take into account apartments not listed to be rented the $5K figure is much lower, especially considering the substantial number of rent-regulated and public housing apartments.
Gale and the other supporters have had over a decade to help secure the funding they promised. The church is still waiting….
I’m sure Miki Naftali has Josh P in mind when he subjects all of us to another 2 or 3 years of stress from construction noise by demolishing a pre-war rental building with 128 units last renovated in 1984, to build what he describes as luxury condominiums. We are still suffering from the noise of the 18 story development next door, which at least replaced a row of inefficient 2-story commercial buildings.
We can reasonably debate difficult situations like the church, and include community needs as part of the equation. But, how exactly will the community benefit from Naftali’s development project?
Is “quality of life” only measured by the number of panhandlers?
“But, how exactly will the community benefit from Naftali’s development project?” New housing directly benefits the people who will get to live in modern apartments. It indirectly benefits everyone in the neighborhood by putting downward pressure on rents (the link between increased housing supply and lower pricing can be counterintuitive, but among experts it’s about as accepted as climate change or vaccine effectiveness). It benefits the environment by reducing sprawl and giving people the chance to live a car free, low carbon lifestyle in one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the country. The Upper West Side is a fantastic place to live and a lot more people should have the chance to live here. The upper west side is a vibrant, living city, not Colonial Williamsburg on the Hudson. The neighborhood’s strength is its people and location, not it’s buildings.
They said they would never sell, but when the offer got good enough they sold the northern half of that block. Notice the south facing side of that building, its completely blank – no windows. Zabars had that requirement put into the deal. It keeps the value of the south half of the block that still has a taxpayer much higher, as they can build right up against the other building.
I would not be surprised at all if the store moved soon, perhaps into the new building that would go up there, so they could demolish their existing lowrise buildings
Welcome to the city of New York, or any other for that matter. I’m a born and raised UWSider. Construction has been going on for years in the area, Since the late 70’s we have all seen and known that any and all taxpayers and buildings under 6 stories were on very borrowed time. The gas station at 96 has already been sold, which will become effective when the older own dies.
Zabers will shortly enter a deal to build on the southern part of their 80-79th street