Trinity Church Enters the Residential Development Game

Image via Pelli Clarke Pelli

Trinity Church was granted one of the highest-valued real estate deals in New York City some three hundred years ago by Britain’s Queen Anne giving the church 215 acres of land in downtown Manhattan.

Trinity Real Estate, the church’s property department, manages over 5.5 million square feet of office buildings in Hudson Square. Through cautious management, Trinity has amassed a $3 billion real estate portfolio, and now plans to play things a little less cautiously by getting into the area of residential development.

Trinity has plans to develop as many as many four luxury residential towers in Hudson Square. “Hudson Square is right next to TriBeCa, SoHo and the Village, the best residential markets in the city, and so when you look at building residential there, it seems like a sure bet,” said Daniel Hollander, a principal at the residential development firm DHA Capital.

There are no sure things in business, and Trinity being inexperienced in the residential game, needs to determine whether they want to face the development that can cause the best to lose their land in a downturn.

Trinity in the past has developed land by leasing out land to partners. This comes at limited risks but caps potential profits. In 2011, Trinity signed a 99-year lease for 330 Hudson Street to refurbish and expand a Trinity owned building. One year prior, Trinity seized 330 Hudson from another developer and absorbed a $10 million tab when a developer ran out of money for work during the recession. Residential developments could bring unprecedented profits for Trinity.

Trinity now has to choose a developer for their 25-story Pelli Clarke Pelli designed tower before they can start construction. A partner is needed for a 430-foot tall residential building between Canal, Varick, and Grand streets and Sixth Avenue that will have a 444-seat public school at its base.
Along with 25 other places of worship, Trinity is in the midst of conversions.