Savanna plans condo on Jewish Theological Seminary site

Developer pays $96M for Morningside Heights parcel and dorm owned by institution

Jewish Theological Seminary Christopher Schlank
The Jewish Theological Seminary at 3080 Broadway in Morningside Heights and Savanna's Christopher Schlank

Savanna bought a parcel of Morningside Heights land from the Jewish Theological Seminary with plans to develop a 250,000-square-foot condominium building.

The developer paid $96 million for a piece of land, as well as air rights, on the east side of Seminary’s 3080 Broadway campus. The funds will go towards renovating the Seminary’s existing buildings and adding new facilities including a performing-arts space and a residence hall. Savanna is tapping architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle to design the project.

The transaction also included an off-campus Dormitory On West 120th Street. Savanna assigned the rights to purchase the dorm to an undisclosed buyer, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The sale closely resembles a plan undertaken by one of the Seminary’s neighbors, the Union Theological Seminary. That organization also hopes to raise about $100 million by selling land and air rights to developer, with the prospect of building a 350,000-square-foot condo building at Its 3041 Broadway campus.

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Both organizations are capitalizing on the current astronomical price of development rights in the city. Land prices in New York hit an average of $284 per square foot in 2015, up from $240 in 2014, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

“Most of these groups don’t have a lot of capital money available, and it’s challenging to do this [major building improvements] on their own,” Cushman’s David Lebenstein, who wasn’t involved in the transaction, told the Journal. “When they can tap hidden value in their real estate it’s a big win for them.”

Last week, The Real Deal reported that Savanna filed demolition permits at 106 West 56th Street, where the company has the potential to build an 80,000-square-foot building. [WSJ]Ariel Stulberg