NYC Developer Embraces Religion in Search for Condo Sites
October 15, 2014

Extell Development Co., the New York builder that set off a luxury residential construction boom with its One57 project, is expanding its reach on Manhattan’s west side with a pending purchase of a synagogue and a plan to redevelop a Baptist church.

Extell is in advanced talks to buy the Congregation Habonim synagogue at 44 W. 66th St. in a deal valued at $75 million, with plans to build condominiums on the site, according to documents the synagogue filed in New York State Supreme Court seeking permission for a sale. Extell also is negotiating with Calvary Baptist Church for a potential project at its 123 W. 57th St. site, on the same block as One57, the church’s 2014 annual report shows.

Religious institutions across New York are pursuing real estate sales as land prices escalate. Manhattan development sites sold for an average of $657 a square foot in the third quarter, up 29 percent from a year earlier and a record for the period, Massey Knakal Realty Services said this month. Three purchases completed in the quarter were for more than $1,000 a square foot, the firm’s data show.

“The feeling is we’re smashing records every week, the residential market is on fire, which is driving land values,” said Joshua Stein, a New York real estate lawyer who has worked on deals involving religious institutions. “You’re getting prices per square foot that were inconceivable 10 years ago. So the question is, ‘Should I sell now?’”

Gary Barnett, president of Extell, declined to comment when reached by phone yesterday. David Carlos, the Savills Studley Inc. broker representing the synagogue, declined to comment. A phone message left in Calvary Baptist Church’s general mailbox wasn’t returned. The Wall Street Journal reported the talks with the church yesterday.

NYC Developer Embraces Religion in Search for Condo Sites

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