The Real Deal New York

Italian family buys NYC Church Missions House for $50M-plus

Luxury condos, retail planned at landmarked 281 Park Avenue South
By Hiten Samtani | July 30, 2014 02:38PM

UPDATED, 12:30 p.m., August 1: An insider today revealed Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty as the true buyer of the property. Please see updated piece here.

New York City’s Church Missions House, an elaborate six-story Flemish-Renaissance landmarked building at 281 Park Avenue South, is in contract for north of $50 million, The Real Deal has learned. Sources said that a prominent Italian family — two sources identified them as the Garzoni family — landed the deal, and is expected to convert the building into boutique condominiums with retail at the base.

The nonprofit group Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies has owned the six-story, 36,749-square-foot property, located on the southeast corner of Park Avenue South and East 22nd Street, since 1963. It paid $910,000 back then to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church. J. Pierpont Morgan donated the site to church in 1892, which then built the property with the help of another titan of the gilded age, Cornelius Vanderbilt II.

Massey Knakal Realty Services’ John Ciraulo and Savills Studley’s Howard Poretsky listed the property in April for $50 million, or about $1,361 a foot. Both brokers declined to comment.

The Italian family intends to develop retail at the base of the buildings and luxury condos on the upper floors. Other investors who looked at the deal include Himmel + Meringoff Properties and Empire Capital Holdings, sources said.

Developers are getting increasingly more ambitious with pricing in the neighborhood. At Nearby 400 Park Avenue South, Toll Brothers is asking a record-setting $4,200 per square foot for the 40-story building’s top penthouse. Given 281 Park Avenue South’s architectural and historical appeal, a boutique condo development could be very attractive to high-end-buyers, sources said.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the Italian family beat out Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty to land the deal.