It began life in 1903 as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. In 2014, the Brooklyn investor Joseph Brunner bought the charming granite Central Park West structure from Ira and Irene Shapiro for $42 million, then announced that he planned to convert it to luxury condominium apartments. The Board of Standards rejected Brunner’s plan, however, and some legal ugliness between buyer and sellers ensued.
Now for the happy ending: the Children’s Museum of Manhattan has announced that it has bought the church at 361 Central Park West from Brunner for $45 million. Instead of becoming yet another luxury condo development in a city that’s already overflowing with the things, the former church will become the new home for the museum, which has outgrown its current quarters on West 83rd Street.
In a statement to The Real Deal, the museum’s executive director, Andrew Ackerman, said, “We look forward to discussing our vision with the community in more detail in the coming weeks, as we begin the formal planning and design process to reactivate the building into a world-class children’s museum for families to visit, explore, and feel part of our great city.”
The legal dispute over the property stemmed from Brunner’s claim that $10 million of his $42 million purchase price was contingent on the city approving his condo project. When the Shapiros sent Brunner a notice of default, he sued. That suit was dismissed in September.
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