Extell pays Catholic Church $16M for Hell’s Kitchen air rights

Plans 40-story residential tower on same block as Silverstein project

TRD New York /
Aug.August 10, 2012 04:00 PM

Gary Barnett’s Extell Development has acquired a large amount of development rights, which it will use to increase the size of a little-noted residential tower project in the neighborhood, for $16.46 million from a Roman Catholic Church in Hell’s Kitchen.

Barnett’s company bought nearly 140,000 square feet in air rights from the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Raphael, located at 502 West 41st Street, near 10th Avenue, on July 31, city property records published today show. The developer is planning to build a residential tower of more than 40 stories on the west side of 10th Avenue between 40th and 41st streets, just to the east of the church, Barnett, the company’s president, told The Real Deal.

The new tower will extend over some portion of the church’s property by way of a cantilevered structure, the city records show, but did not say exactly how far.

Barnett does not own the land he is building on, at 537-547 10th Avenue, however. Instead, on Aug. 22, 2011 he acquired a 99-year ground lease with one of the city’s major landlords, the estate of Sol Goldman.

The Barnett project is on the same city block, and just to the east, of a proposed residential tower that Silverstein Properties is building — only separated by a mid-block access road for the Lincoln Tunnel. Silverstein’s project, at 514 11th Avenue, was first reported by TRD, and is in the early stages of planning.

It’s not a coincidence that developers are announcing residential projects on the Far West Side, Michael Greenberg, CEO of the residential-focused Level Group, said. He said rental vacancy rates are low and condo stock is burning off.

“If you look down at Manhattan from the air, you can see the east side of the city — east of Eighth Avenue — is heavily developed but west of that it is sparsely [built up],” he said. “So it is no surprise that we see another large project going up in that area.”

Barnett said he has not decided whether the apartment building will be for sales or rentals or who the architect would be, but expected to begin development next year.

“We think it is a good site and we think the deal will be worthwhile for us,” Barnett said, noting, “That is the usual reason we go into deals.”

It will be just to the east of the large neo-Gothic church that the Encyclopedia of New York City says was built in 1902, and that once counted Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan as a member.

A spokesperson for Manhattan’s Roman Catholic Church declined to comment, and the pastor of Saint Raphael’s was traveling and not available for comment.

Extell Development is one of the city’s most active builders, with projects such as One57 rising at 157 West 57th Street, and the International Gem Tower at 50 West 47th Street, among others. In May, the Midtown-based firm said it was moving forward with development of a 1.7 million square foot office tower dubbed One Hudson Yards at 11th Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets.

Extell had another project planned at 356-366 10th Avenue a few blocks south of the 40th Street site, but gave it back to the lender in 2010.

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