Sacred Heart buys $23M UES building for athletics

The Convent of the Sacred Heart school paid Verizon New York $23 million for a three-story building on a 12,500-square-foot lot at 406 East 91st Street, more than six avenues east of its main campus at 1 East 91st Street at Fifth Avenue.

The sale, which was first announced in July when it went into contract, closed September 26, according to property records published today.

The school plans to build offices, a gym and a pool at the site, where Verizon has a 35,778-square-foot garage and repair center, the school said.

A state filing by telecommunications provider Verizon said the school planned to demolish the garage, but Craig MacPherson, director of institutional advancement at the school, said a decision had not been made.

“We are not far enough along at the moment to know how much of the current structure will remain or be changed, but we are keeping all of our options open.  We hope to have firm plans for the space in early 2009,” he wrote in an email.

The maximum building size allowed under current zoning would be an 81,828-square-foot structure, according to David Noonan, a broker on the sale and a principal with Newmark Knight Frank Capital Group. That size building costing $23 million, translates to $280 per buildable square foot, far less than the $500-plus-per-square-foot number seen in recent years for residential developments.

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“Don’t draw any great conclusions about what residential land goes for on the Upper East Side because this is not a residential piece,” he said.

Noonan said construction at the site was limited by the zoning, which permits office, hotel and a small amount of residential use. The site drew bidders from other schools in the neighborhood as well as garages.  

Sacred Heart’s Web site said the campus space currently used for a gym, weight room, locker rooms and gym offices would be converted to classrooms.

Sacred Heart is a private school for girls from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.
Verizon, which acquired the property in 1971, plans to relocate the approximately 30 employees at the site to other locations in Upper Manhattan or the Bronx, the state filing said.