East Village playground in contract for $10M

Sep.September 09, 2008 02:12 PM

Two thirds of a 15,000-square-foot East Village playground that was home to a popular flea market is under contract in a quiet, all-cash sale for $10.4 million to the Archdiocese of New York, court documents said.

The playground, divided into three ownership lots, is adjacent to the shuttered Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church on the east side of Avenue A between 11th and 12th streets. The Archdiocese owns the church located on a 13,000 square foot lot, city records show.

The two parcels, under contract since July, total 7,500 square feet and are owned by a Roman Catholic order called the Salesian Society, based in New Rochelle, NY. The third part of the playground, totaling 7,500 square feet, is owned by the Archdiocese, records show.

The Archdiocese did not respond to requests for comment, but real estate professionals speculated the church parcel and playground would be sold and developed into residential housing.

The church acknowledged the low-key nature of the sale in a letter of thanks to the Salesians.

“Permit me to extend my deepest gratitude for the collegial and generous manner exhibited by you and your colleagues in handling this most sensitive matter,” an August 14 note from Archbishop Edward
Cardinal Egan said.

The Mary Help of Christians church was closed in May 2007 and the flea market, which attracted hundreds of shoppers on weekends, was shuttered at about the same time.

By law, the Salesians, as a religious nonprofit organization, need approval from a Manhattan State Supreme Court justice to sell the property. The court’s approval was filed September 2.

Arik Lifshitz, president of real estate brokerage DSA Realty Services, was not familiar with the deal but speculated that any future development of the East Village site would involve community input.

“I think it is a great location and would be a great opportunity for someone,” he said.

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