Annex of Catholic school in Chelsea will be base for Alchemy condo project

April 16, 2013 08:30AM

A Roman Catholic school in Chelsea is getting to grow because of a creative partnership with developer Alchemy Properties, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Xavier High School, at 30 West 16th Street, will add a 35,000-square-foot six-story annex with classrooms, a gymnasium and a recital space. Unlike most Catholic schools in the city, Xavier – whose alumni include Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross – needs the space to house its growing number of students. The annex will be the base for a glass-walled condominium known as 35XV, Alchemy’s most ambitious project to date. 

“We are bursting at the seams,” Xavier president Jack Raslowsky told the Journal.

When a deal to sell the school’s air rights to Tishman Hotel & Realty for a hotel fell through during the real estate bust, Raslovsky told the Journal that the board attempted to “have some control of our destiny and meet some necessary needs.”

Xavier ended up making a $13.77 million air rights deal with Alchemy president Ken Horn, giving him the leverage to buy the union hall next door for $16.6 million and use it as the site for 35XV. The proceeds from the air rights deal covered the cost of the school’s new wing as well as some of the furnishings. And Alchemy used the deal to help it school as a basis to secure a “community-use” zoning bonus to build a larger structure. About 40 percent of the apartments are listed in contract, according to the Journal.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s David Noonan and Jennifer Schwartzman, who represented the union hall in the transaction, won an award from the Real Estate Board of New York for 2010’s “most ingenious deal of the year.” [WSJ] —Hiten Samtani