Updated 1:38 ET: A controversial plan from developers Ira Shapiro and Joseph Brunner to convert the landmarked Crenshaw Christian Center was rejected by the preservation committee of Community Board 7 after concerns were raised about plans to punch dozens of apartment windows into the building’s granite façade.
“When you look at a rendering of the north wall of this building it’s shocking,” said committee co-chair Jay Adolf. “This project to me really represents a dilemma.”
Adolf said that the committee is considering a more complete resolution rejecting the proposed plan. That document, however, would also outline specific changes needed to address concerns about density and architectural integrity of the property.
The developers acquired the church in June and plan to convert the 47,000 square foot building at 361 Central Park West into 32 luxury condos with one-to-four bedroom apartments.
During a presentation led by Judith Saltzman of Li Salzman Architects, plans showed significant renovations at the site. Many of the changes would involve replacing bronze windows with insulated glass, enlargement of existing windows and the addition of chillers, all designed to improve ventilation and available light.
In a statement, council member Mark Levine said the developer did make a serious effort to respect the historic nature of the facade. “But Community Board 7’s Preservation Committee raised valid concerns in their unanimous resolution last night,” he noted. “These must be resolved.”
Levine also indicated the project will be a “non-starter” for him until the developer commits to using union labor and includes affordable housing.
The property was designated as a city landmark in 1974. The church was sold to the Los Angeles-based Crenshaw Christian Church in 2004, which then sold the property in June for $26 million.
As The Real Deal reported, documents filed with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman show that Irene Shapiro, the sister of Ira, was the buyer of the property. Brooklyn developer Joseph Brunner was brought in to take control of the project and obtain financing. He is now listed on documents submitted to Community Board 7 as the owner of 361 CPW LLC, the entity that owns the church.
Ira Shapiro is listed as the owner’s representative through an entity called Hartford CP Management.
Ultimate approval for the project rests with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. That panel, along with the city Board of Standards and Appeals, is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposal on Dec. 9.
Shapiro, who sat at the table with the committee, declined to comment following the vote. Attorney Jordan Most, who represents the board at 370 Central Park West, also declined to comment.