The Hurdles of an Upper West Side Conversion Condo

The condo conversion of a landmarked church in the Upper West Side might be stalling out.  The design team heading the renovation of 361 Central Park West, previously known as 1 West 96th Street, hasn’t received the approval of the necessary parties in order to commence construction on a building that renowned architect Robert A.M. Stern has described as, “one of the city’s most compelling religious structures in the Classical manner.”

Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel submitted a proposal to CB 7 late in November, but the designs were summarily rejected by community members, who were displeased by changes to the facade, and commented on the installation of numerous windows and the removal of the stained glass.  The stained glass windows are allegedly the work of John La Farge, but since GKV hasn’t found definitive proof of this, they intend to donate them.

Kelly Carroll, the Director of Preservation and Community Outreach at the Historic Districts Council, voiced her concern regarding modifications to the landmark’s facade, reasoning that “Arbitrarily cutting window openings into a building described in its designation as being the ‘finest tradition of Beaux Arts classicism’ will be permanently damaging to the landmark."  Interestingly, the church’s landmark status is meant to protect the building’s exterior, meaning that overall, there shouldn’t be too many issues with the conversion inherently.

The new construction condos will likely number less than 30, and while there is some skepticism as to how many buyers would actually enjoy living in a building clearly designed as a church, considering the Upper West Side’s available inventory (or perpetual lack thereof), not to mention its status as a sort of technically prewar apartment, and a true-to-form apartment by Central Park, they will likely be sold at a premium — that is of course, if a design ever gets approved.

GKV is also responsible for The Beekman at Temple Court, alternatively known as 5 Beekman Street, as well as the Chelsea House at 130 West 19th Street, in the Financial District and Chelsea, respectively.  The church first went on the market in 2003 for $24 million.

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