The dispute over the landmark but crumbling West Park Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street has moved to the second front, the Manhattan Supreme Court.
The small congregation wants to sell the 140-year-old building to developer Alchemy for $33.5 million. As The Property Check previously reported, the church has appealed to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to revoke its landmark status on the grounds of hardship, and the LPC plans to consider the application shortly after Labor Day. is.
Alchemy demolished the church and built a twenty-story apartment complex that included a large community center and new facilities for worshipers— a move that was fiercely opposed by local conservationistsSome of the activist views from the apartments are blocked by the new building.
The congregation is now seeking to extend the site’s tenant, the Center in West Park, a non-profit arts institution, on a “void,” “void,” and “non-enforceable” lease that expires in December. I am suing for doing so.
In its lawsuit, the church argues that the lease signed in 2018 does not give the art center the right to unilateral renewals or extensions. claims to have been unable to raise funds to restore the abandoned building.
The church says it will cost at least $50 million to restore the church, which has been surrounded by scaffolding for 20 years and has been closed several times by the Building Authority.
A church source called the arts center’s move “hypocritical. The center was set up to save the church.” [by raising restoration funds]Having failed, they are now trying to stop the church from doing what it needs to do.
“The building is literally collapsing,” said an insider.
If the court rules in favor of the arts center, the lease extension could affect the timing of demolition, but is unlikely to deter a sale.
The center, backed by council member Gale Brewer and several local activists, has yet to respond in court.
However, the organization’s attorney, Michael S. Hiller, said the lease “explicitly grants the center a unilateral right to extend the lease term for five years.”
He said the “false allegations” in the lawsuit were “a ruse to circumvent the promises and representations made by the congregation and to obtain financial gain by selling the building.”
Brewer, who led the campaign to landmark the church ten years ago, said: [by] A developer whose appetite for financial gain seems insatiable. ”