Landmarks vote on Park Avenue church a victory for Extell

Decision paves the way for developer to construct condo on site of building's rectory

Gary Barnett And 1010 Park Avenue
Gary Barnett And 1010 Park Avenue

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has voted in favor of The Proposed Park Avenue Historic District, which comprises approximately 68 buildings between 79th Street and 96th Street on Park Avenue.

Also included within the vote was the decision to designate a Park Avenue church rectory a “no style” building, which could potentially hold sizable consequences for the future of the church. Representatives at The Park Avenue Christian Church, located at 1010 Park Avenue at East 85th Street, have been in negotiations with Extell Development, which hopes to build a condominium tower at the site of the church’s parish house.

If the Commission had voted to designate the church’s rectory a “Gothic style” structure rather than voting “no style,” it would have made it extremely difficult for Extell to go forward with plans to build on the site of the parish.

The proposed Extell development plan has triggered a lot of opposition, particularly from residents of the adjacent residential building at 1000 Park Avenue.

Stanley Cortell, a resident at 1000 Park Avenue for seven years, whose apartment overlooks the church, came to the public meeting in support of preserving the church. “It would ruin a beautiful view of a beautiful church, and it would markedly reduce the value of my apartment,” Cortell said.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Responding to the commission’s decision, Stephen Kass, attorney from Carter Ledyard and Milburn, and the counsel for residents at 1000 Park Avenue said, “I think it’s shameful. Everyone on that commission knows that the front of the parish house rectory building is of great significance and that it is an integral part of the church design.”

Six of the members of the commission indicated that they were prepared to insist that any new development proposal be evaluated in terms of its impact on the church and on the front of the rectory building.

Kass added that the fight was not over yet. “If the commission continues to accommodate the developer, as this decision unfortunately does, there will undoubtedly be major litigation,” Kass said.

Greg Arzt, a representative for the church, called the decision “well-reasoned.”

“We still have to get all our people together and basically see what can do be done on the site,” he said.