Harlem church sale sets record five months after last trade

TRD New York /
Nov.November 06, 2013 06:52 PM

Five months after buying a church on the north end of Central Park, the owner has sold the property to overseas investors for $16.5 million, which yielded what is believed to be a per-square-foot record for the area and a $4.1 million profit over the purchase price.

A Belgium-based family office paid Emmut Properties $386 per square foot for the property on Oct. 28, according to Yiannes Einhorn, a principal with Einhorn Development Group, which the European firm hired to construct a new residential building. The property, at 145 Central Park North, between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Malcolm X boulevards, comes with 42,694 square feet of development rights, data from PropertyShark show.

Emmut, headed by John Young, purchased the site from New York United Sabbath Day Adventist Church on June 18 for $11.375 million, or about $266 per square foot, city records show.

The high price reflects the increase in values over the past year, and the high demand for residential construction, insiders said.

The church sold the property in June based on a recommendation from real estate advisory firm Zion Consulting and an appraisal from MMJ Appraisal Management, which valued the site at $10.75 million.

Richard Guarino, an associate broker with Friedman Roth Realty Services, brokered the most recent sale.

A broker who was not involved in the sale, Lev Kimyagarov, director of sales at Massey Knakal Realty Services, said the highest comparable he had in the area for a recent deal was the June sale of the property, and the next highest was about $170 per square foot from May.

Einhorn said his own projected price was lower — closer to $325 per foot — based on an analysis of the site that would yield about 50,000 buildable square feet. Einhorn declined to identify the Belgian family office.

Einhorn said it was a special site, and what he believed to be the last 100-foot-wide parcel fronting Central Park. The new owner might build a rental building to keep or sell the units as condominiums.

“It’s to be determined,” Einhorn said.

George Whiteman, pastor of the church, was disappointed that he did not sell at the higher price.

“I said I believed we could get more,” Whiteman said, although the church took the highest bidder among several vying to buy the site.

His church has been in the building since it was constructed in the mid-1950s, he said. He is now renting space in Harlem and plans to ink a contract for a new site in the coming months.

“It is the experience of life. If we could rewrite history or go back in time I guess many of us would make different decisions,” he said.

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