In January we told you that the Jewish Theological Seminary had sold a chunk of its campus in Morningside Heights, plus limited development rights and an off-campus residence for $96 million. Now, the Commercial Observer reports, the developer Savanna has secured a $34.6 million loan from Pacific Western Bank to help fund its plan to erect a 250,000-square-foot luxury condo building on the former campus parcel on West 122nd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway. The architecture firm Beyer Blinder Bell will design it.
Meanwhile, the seminary, which has hired the architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, is moving ahead with plans to use its windfall to build a performing arts space, as well as a residence hall above a new library that will house the school’s collection of rare Judaic books, manuscripts and scrolls.
Written by Tom Soter on February 03, 2016
The 26-unit co-op at 431 West 121st Street in Manhattan “had some access leaks along one of the facades and we knew we were going to have to do the roof,” says Beth Markowitz, the principal in Merlot Management, the manager of the property. “That, in essence, is how the project started. It is something we had been talking about for a while.”
But the job turned out to be much bigger than anyone expected.
February 02, 2016
One dubious turn deserves another. The Jewish Theological Seminary, following the lead of its Morningside Heights neighbor Union Theological Seminary, has sold a chunk of its campus and air rights for $96 million to the developer Savanna, which plans to erect a 250,000-square-foot condominium building on the Broadway property.
The developer has tapped the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle to design the project. The seminary plans to use the proceeds from the sale to renovate existing buildings and add new facilities, including a performing-arts space and a residence hall, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Like Union Theological Seminary, the Jewish Theological Seminary is cashing in on sky-high Manhattan land prices, which reached $284 per square foot last year, according to the commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.
“Most of these groups don’t have a lot of capital money available,” says Cushman’s David Lebenstein, who was not involved in the transaction. “When they can tap into hidden value in their real estate, it’s a big win for them.”
Written by Tom Soter on January 06, 2016
It was an odd situation. The Mont Cenis Apartments, a 24-unit co-op at 54 Morningside Drive, stopped a capital job in progress, sought out a second engineering opinion, and then hired a new firm to direct the work.
The project was a facade restoration at the six-story property. One of the oldest co-ops in the city, Mont Cenis was built in 1925 on West 116th Street, and is one of four sister buildings in the area. During the seventh Local Law 11 inspection cycle in 2010 (now known as the Façade Inspection Safety Program, or FISP), the engineer examining the façade cited the building for defects. Repairs had to be completed by the eighth cycle. According to Brad Taylor, an architect who was board president when the work began, “the bulk of the job consisted of replacing terracotta lintels. The building decided to match the terracotta units to be replaced with cast stone, [which] offered us some cost savings and expedited scheduling as the wait from placing the order to delivery was cut in half (three months vs six months).”
December 11, 2015
Can God and a luxury condo tower co-exist?
That’s the questions on the minds of administrators, students and alumni at the Gothic campus of Union Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights, where The Wall Street Journal reports [paywall] that the school is considering selling 350,000 feet of air rights to a luxury condo developer to fund $100 million in renovations to building exteriors as well as electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems.
Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, the seminary’s president, said the proposed tower would be a “slender” building on the northern portion of the quadrangle at the center of the campus. The school is working with L&M Development Partners. Without specifying the building’s height, she said it would “respect” the 392-foot tower at nearby Riverside Church. Robert Von Ancken, an air rights expert, told the Journal he expected the building to be between 35 and 40 stories.
The idea of building luxury condos on the campus of a religious institution has met with stiff resistance. More than 200 students, alumni and others have signed a letter urging a “complete and immediate” scuttling of the plan. At a recent rally, one student carried a sign that declared “There are no luxury condos in the Kingdom of Heaven!”
December 10, 2012
Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. A co-op board is rightly skeptical of a claim that no possible antidepression treatment even exists other than a dog. A starchitect's building in Brooklyn comes without a trash room, and the city says it's legal — but still tickets the condo for, well, not having a trash room. Manhattan condos are selling strong, but co-op bargains are to be had in the Heights. And for co-op / condo boards, a discrimination lawsuit still stands, but its lawyers don't.
Written by Tom Soter on June 06, 2013
The co-op board was complaining about the superintendent. "He sends us bills for everything he does," said the treasurer. "He paints the hallways, we get a bill. He repairs the burner, we get a bill. He fixes plumbing in the walls, we get a bill. What are we paying him for? Cleaning up the hallways and common areas?"
I listened carefully to the duties enumerated by my colleague on the board and thought, "That's an awful lot of work to do for the pittance we pay him."
Written by Jennifer Wu on May 14, 2013
Our bags were gone.
My fiancé, Mike, and I had come home after having dinner at my parents' house. While he was parking, I took a few bags of groceries upstairs to our sixth-floor walk-up apartment and left a suitcase and another bag of groceries in the lobby for Mike to bring up when he came in.
But by the time he arrived — only a brief 10 minutes later — the bags had disappeared. After knocking on a few doors and finding that no one had seen or heard anything, we realized that our bags had been stolen — from our locked lobby!
Written by Jennifer V. Hughes on August 30, 2012
Steven Schneider, an owner of the back-office company Back Office Inc., a.k.a. The Back Office, cautions that not every type of building benefits from "back-office only" (BOO) services. "It's the building that is having a lot of waterproofing issues," he says by way of example. "It's the building with the boiler they've had since year one and they've been putting band-aids on it, the building with a lot of problems and a board that needs its hand held every day."
As well, Schneider says, some potentially ideal candidates for BOO won't consider ditching their managing agents because it's seen as an issue of prestige to have an agent.
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