Developers eye deals with churches as land prices rise

Gary Barnett (inset), Stephen Kliegerman (bottom inset) and 1010 Park Avenue
Gary Barnett (inset), Stephen Kliegerman (bottom inset) and 1010 Park Avenue

More churches are considering deals with developers as land prices reach historic highs, paving the way for disputes between builders, strapped-for-cash religious institutions, preservation groups and neighborhood residents.

“Churches are on the radar” of several developers, Stephen Kliegerman, president of Halstead Property Development Marketing, told the Wall Street Journal, adding that he knew of at least three church deals in The Works Below 96th Street.

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Extell Development, for example, is in contract to buy the Park Avenue Christian Church, located near 85th Street. The developer plans to build a 210-foot-tall building hovering over the site. However, The Landmarks Preservation Commission And Park Avenue residents are trying to halt the deal. The congregation of Park Avenue Christian Church said it needs money to keep the institution afloat.

Extell plans for the tower to bend around the 70-foot spire above the church.

Additionally, Extell is trying to flip a contract it has to buy 568 Broome Street in the Hudson Square area, a development site that is home to the shuttered Our Lady of Vilnius church.

Trinity Church is building a 25-story residential tower at Its Historic Trinity Place property in Lower Manhattan, and Williamsburg’s 81 Ten Eyck Street is set to join the fold of New York City churches converted into residential spaces. [WSJ]Mark Maurer