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Thread: West-Park Presbyterian Church - Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street

  1. #46

    Default Where can I see renderings?

    I will be moving into the neighborhood in a month or two and am curious about what's going on with the church. I saw an article that said the church had sold air rights for $15 million and a 21-story condo would be built.

    Is this true? If so, does anyone know who the developer or the architect is? Is there a website with renderings of the building? I would like to see what is proposed.

    Thank you,

  2. #47
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    Church plans tower with condos and affordable rentals


    The West-Park Presbyterian Church on the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue is hoping to conclude negotiations with Richman Housing Services soon for a redevelopment of its site that would preserve its main sanctuary and tower and erect a mid-block 21-story apartment building with a total of about 70 affordable rental and condominium apartments, the Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, the church’s pastor, told today.

    In his superb book, “From Abyssinian to Zion, A Guide to Manhattan’s Houses of Worship,” David W. Dunlap wrote that “one of the finest Romanesque sanctuaries in Manhattan, West-Park Presbyterian Church is a landmark in every sense but the official one.” The building is not an official city landmark.

    The first sanctuary of the West Presbyterian Church or Carmine Street Church was built in 1831 and designed by Town & Davis and that church moved in 1862 to a Victorian Gothic Church at 31 West 42nd Street, according to Mr. Dunlap.

    The Park Church was founded in 1854 as the Eighty-Fourth Street Presbyterian Church in a wood-frame structure on West End Avenue designed by Leopold Eidlitz and that church moved in 1884 to 86th Street and in 1890 moved into the “rugged and ruddy main church in 1890 at 539 Amsterdam Avenue” designed by Henry F. Kilburn, according to Mr. Dunlap’s research.

    “It is marked on the skyline by a corner tower with bell-shaped roof so vigorous that it stands in confident counterpoint to even the enormous Belnord apartment block across the avenue,” Mr. Dunlap observed, adding that the two churches merged in 1911.

    Many preservationists have long been concerned about the future of West-Park and yesterday Landmark West!, an Upper West Side civic organization, sent out an e-mail announcing that the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation would hold a “Preservation Summit” meeting at the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman at 20 West 44th Street on Monday, November 13, at 6PM. The meeting will address preservationists’ concerns over the status of the former Dakota Stables on the southwest corner of 77th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the former Colonial Club on the southwest corner of 72nd Street and Broadway and The First Baptist Church on the northwest corner of Broadway and 79th Street because the Landmarks Preservation Commission “has shown no real interest in protecting these buildings.”

    “…given the fact that the landmarks process is increasingly owner-driven (not public- or community-, or citizen-driven), we are not hopeful that the Landmarks Commission will rush to the defense of this building [The First Baptist Church]. They didn’t for the West-Park Presbyterian Church….when development plans for that site re-surfaced several years ago,” the e-mail maintained.

    The Rev. Brashear told that Franke Gottsegen Cox is the church’s architect and SCLE is the architect for Richman Housing Resources.

    He said that the congregation will not be moving this week to the Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on the northeast corner of West End Avenue and 86th Street, but hoped that its negotiations with Richman Housing Resources will advance sufficiently to permit it move there soon. Noting that the church has been studying its facility “stone by stone” and that the planned development would not alter the exterior at the corner, he said that he hoped that more than half the units in the planned tower would be affordable rentals.

    At one point, the Related Companies planned to redevelop the site with a 23-story tower with new quarters for the church at the corner but when some neighbors and community leaders learned that the existing church would be razed they formed a group called Friends of West-Park, which commissioned Peter Samton, a partner in Gruzen Samton Architects, and Page Ayres Cowley Architects, to come up with an alternate scheme that preserved much of the church structure.

    Copyright © 1994-2006 CITY REALTY.COM INC.

  3. #48


    I am ELATED that this church will not be razed. Does anyone have a photo of the side street to show where the apartments will go?

  4. #49


    Quote Originally Posted by NYCG View Post
    I will be moving into the neighborhood in a month or two and am curious about what's going on with the church. I saw an article that said the church had sold air rights for $15 million and a 21-story condo would be built.

    Is this true? If so, does anyone know who the developer or the architect is? Is there a website with renderings of the building? I would like to see what is proposed.

    Thank you,
    Alexander Gorlin Architects LLC

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #50

    Default Not!

    That's not the building, at least not any more.

  6. #51
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    But this one is...

    West-Park Church redevelopment plans shown


    The design of a 21-story apartment building on part of the site of the West-Park Presbyterian Church on the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue was presented to the housing committee of Community Board 7 last night by the church and Richman Housing Services.

    The presentation was informational and does not require review by Community Board 7.

    The building will contain 50 "affordable" rental apartments and 27 "market-rate" condominium apartments, 25,000 square feet of community space and new skylit congregation space near the top of the existing sanctuary structure just to the west of the church's prominent clocktower, which is being preserved.

    Bill Traylor, president of Richman Housing Services and an 86th Street resident, told a crowded meeting at the Goddard Riverside Community Center at 593 Avenue that the affordable apartments, all studios on floors 5 through 10, will have a separate entrance that will be part of the surviving red-sandstone facade and that the condo apartments will have their own entrance with a marquee in the new mid-block tower that cantilevers slightly over the rear of the sanctuary structure. The condos will be on floors 11 through 21.

    Some members of the public attending the meeting said that separate entrances was "segregation" and Mr. Traylor replied that for financing reasons the church, the affordable housing section and the condo sections needed to be legally separate and that the intent is for the affordable units to be in perpetuity and not subject to the whims of the condominium owners.
    Mr. Traylor's company is the sixth largest residential property owner in the United States.

    In response to a question by John Michael Ziegler, the head of the board of trustees of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew on the northeast corner of 86th Street and West End Avenue, where the West-Park Presbyterian Church will conduct services during the construction project, Mr. Traylor said that the physical condition of the existing church was poor and that his company is paying the church $15 million for the development rights and that $5 million of that will create an endowment fund for the church and that if the renovation and construction of the church space costs more than $10 million his company will pay for it.

    He said that construction will start probably in May and is expected to take about two years to complete, adding that the plan is not using about 10,000 square feet of the church's development rights. He said his company was not pursuing other development rights that have been offered by adjacent properties and that his company and the church want the project to be in context with the neighborhood.

    A single person making less than $24,000 would be eligible for the affordable units, he said, adding that the Goddard Riverside Community Center, which is on 88th Street, has a waiting list of about 4,000 seniors.

    Franke Gottsegen Cox is the church's architect and SCLE is the architect for Richman. The buff-colored brick tower will have a limestone base that apparently is modeled a bit after the sinuous curves at the base of 19 West 72nd Street.

    The Rev. Robert Brasheer told the meeting that that a plan advanced by the Friends of West-Park did not generate sufficient funds to cover the renovation costs especially when the Trevor Day School opted not to pursue the venture.

    One speaker at the meeting, Mosette Broderick, said that West-Park "is the only Richardsonian building left in Manhattan" and that Henry Richardson did not try to "clone" Europe and that the church's planned new space in the project was "rather sad looking" and that the new project should not be "banal" and "look like Houston or Dallas."

    The building is not an official city landmark and was designed in 1890 by Henry F. Kilburn.

    Copyright © 1994-2007 CITY REALTY.COM INC.

  7. #52


    February 17, 2009, 11:33 am

    West Side Church on Road to Landmark Status

    By Sewell Chan

    City Landmarks Preservation Commission
    The West Park Presbyterian Church, at West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, was completed in 1889.

    The West Park Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side, a Romanesque Revival edifice of red sandstone familiar to anyone who has ventured into the neighboring Barney Greengrass for bagel and lox, took a major step Tuesday toward becoming a New York City landmark.

    The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to schedule a public hearing for the church and for three other sites: the Fort Washington Presbyterian Church in Washington Heights; the Ridgewood Theater in Queens; and the former headquarters of the Brooklyn Union Gas Company in Brooklyn Heights. The body also agreed to hold a hearing on a proposal to create an Audubon Park Historic District in Washington Heights.

    Because the commission is usually reluctant to schedule such hearings unless there is broad support for a landmark designation, most structures for which is a hearing is scheduled end up being designated landmarks.

    The church complex, at 165 West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, began as a chapel designed by Leopold Eidlitz in 1883. The congregation, which quickly outgrew the chapel, hired Henry F. Kilburn to design the main sanctuary, which includes a soaring tower that anchors the northeast corner of the intersection.

    The commission’s chairman, Robert B. Tierney, said the decision to hold a hearing was a “natural outgrowth” of two years of discussions “with church representatives, elected officials, concerned residents and preservation advocacy groups about extending landmark protection to this remarkable building.”

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
    Last edited by brianac; March 12th, 2009 at 06:40 AM.

  8. #53


    West-Park Presbyterian Church

    Leopold Eidlitz (original chapel), 1884
    Henry F. Kilburn (addition: the church), 1890
    West 86th Street & Amsterdam Avenue

    Thanks to you and many other concerned New Yorkers, West-Park Presbyterian Church is now one step closer to becoming an official NYC Landmark! On Tuesday, February 17, 2009, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to "calendar" West-Park for a public hearing (date as yet unscheduled - we'll keep you posted) to consider its merits for landmark designation. "Calendaring" itself provides a measure of protection since the LPC would get the chance to review any planned alterations to the structure, even before official designation.

    Here's what you can do to help make West-Park an official NYC Landmark!

    STEP 1: Send a letter to LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney. Click here for contact information.
    STEP 2: Send copies of your letter to key elected and public officials and urge them to support landmark designation. Click here for a contact list.
    STEP 3: Email LW! to make sure you're on our list to receive updates.

    Please let your friends, family and neighbors know how they can help, too! West-Park Presbyterian Church has been on LW's Wish List of landmark priorities since 1985. For 20 years, the community has called on the LPC to hear West-Park, which was originally included in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District when it was proposed, but left out of the 1990 district designation after vociferous opposition from church representatives. Since then, neighbors have had to stave off development proposals and demolition permits so that the landmarks door would remain open. The LPC's recent action was a direct response to email alerts and submissions made by LANDMARK WEST! to raise awareness after neighbors observed workers removing pieces of West-Park's interior (the Church explained that they were cleaning up after a burst pipe). comes none too soon. Remember, it was the LPC's failure to move quickly enough to calendar the Dakota Stables (West 77th Street & Amsterdam Avenue) that led to that building's destruction back in 2006. This time, the LPC stepped up to the plate. The real work of saving this building is only just beginning - please help!

    Recent Press Coverage
    New York Times
    New York Post

    West-Park Presbyterian Church

    The West-Park Presbyterian Church was designed to stand out in the neighborhood - its dramatic bell tower a beacon to worshipers, and its boldly massed, red sandstone façade keeping step with the fashion of the time. Indeed, West-Park may be the only example of a Richardsonian Revival-style church to survive in Manhattan.

    The robust stonework and heavy round arches reflect the popularity of medieval Romanesque forms, while the use of Lake Superior red stone trimmed with Longmeadow brownstone, a magnificent material on no other known religious structures, reveals a new interest in earth-toned materials in the 1880s. These elements combine to create a building of singular power, unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side.

    West-Park began as two separate congregations that merged in order to accomodate the neighborhood's growing population.

    The Park Church, on West End Avenue and 84th Street, purchased the prominent corner site on 86th Street in 1882. The congregation quickly outgrew a chapel built to the east of the corner and designed by Leopold Eidlitz, one of New York's most important 19th-century architects (sadly almost all of his buildings have been demolished). Henry F. Kilburn was commissioned to design a new church, incorporating Eidlitz's chapel and recladding its façade in 1889. West-Park was formed in 1911 when Park Presbyterian Church, merged with West Presbyterian Church, then on West 42nd Street.

    As of this writing, the church is closed and under imminent threat of demolition.
    Last edited by brianac; March 12th, 2009 at 07:00 AM.

  9. #54


    This is fantastic news!

  10. #55


    LOL, this is such typical B.S govt. windowdressing.

    Nothing is changing on the site. Just people making press conferences and issuing self-congragulatory press releases.

    The church now supports landmarking because LPC is only designating the portion that was never planned to be demollished anyways.

    This way the church can survive from revenue from the new housing, and the "community" groups can congratulate themselves for their "advocacy".

  11. #56
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Thy Neighbor's Will

    Pastor condemns LPC for landmarking UWS church

    What is a church? Is it a building or is it a congregation? Is it a collection of bright red, somewhat cracked sandstone bricks 125 years old or a mission of charity and public works 56 years older? Can both coexist in the hellish world of Manhattan real estate? That is the debate—and occasional argument—that has surrounded the corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue on the Upper West Side for nearly a decade.

    The RElated Companies' proposal to demolish the church and
    replace it with a new one, plus a luxury tower in back.

    The flashpoint is the 1880s West-Park Presbyterian church, designed by Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn, which was designated a New York City landmark on January 12. Parishioners of the church claim they may have to abandon their century-old home now that they cannot count on a renovation and expansion to help with maintenance and alleviate financial difficulties.

    Preservationists, neighbors, and local politicians counter that it is arguably the finest Romanesque Revival church in the city, and point to the church’s longstanding refusal to be landmarked—dating back to the creation of the Upper West Side Historic District in 1990—as the real problem.

    In 2003, two years after a devastating storm revealed signs of serious deterioration in the building’s sandstone facade, the church, through a connected patron, contacted Related Companies for help. The developer proposed demolishing the church and replacing it with a boxy glass tower and crystalline modernist chapel designed by Franke, Gottsegen, Cox Architects.

    Neighbors, including Friends of West-Park, cried foul. The group’s founder Vitullo-Martin still questions the church’s motives, telling AN recently, “This has nothing to do with the stones, which are in pretty good shape. This is all about money.”

    Related abandoned the project over public outcry, but the church continued to work with the Friends group on a Tate Modern-style addition that would keep the facade but replace most of the church with a school. The plans were devised by architect Peter Samton of Grusen Samton and preservationist Page Cowley (both locals), but faltered because the New York City Presbytery argued it would not generate a sustaining income.

    The church then turned to another developer, Richmond, who proposed a plan to retain 85 percent of the building while demolishing the offices in back, replacing them with a residential tower. Despite including a number of affordable housing units, the tower angered the community not only for its height but also because it would replace the original parish house.

    “It is and has always been our desire to rebuild, restore, and renew what was given to us by our forebears,” said Reverend Robert Brashear of West-Park in an interview. “At the same time, the building is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.”

    Friends of West Park created two similar proposals for maintaining the church without a tower,
    carving out its innards but preserving much of the facade.
    They were designed by Peter Samton and Page Cowley.

    Courtesy Pave Cowley Architects

    All the while, the Landmarks Preservation Commission was flooded with petitions and thousands of letters, as a spokesperson confirmed, begging it to take up the matter. The church was calendared for review last February—at which point Richmond walked away—after a burst pipe raised fears about its continued maintenance. The church was designated by a unanimous vote on January 12.

    Stephen Byrnes, who joined the commission five years ago, said landmarking the church was at the top of his wish list since Day One. He acknowledged that the church may not now be able to raise the money it needs for restoration. “We know that, but that’s not under our purview,” he said. “We’re looking at this in terms of its architecture and its significance to the city, and that’s our responsibility.”
    Brashear’s frustration is clear—he booed the vote—though he said “a non-profit educational institution in the community” was still considering a deal for the building. “We will do everything in our power to renew our own life through this building,” he said.

    Matt Chaban

    more coverage in WNY's Upper West Side Story thread (pages 9 and 10)

  12. #57


    Quote Originally Posted by Merry View Post
    [B][SIZE=5] Stephen Byrnes, who joined the commission five years ago, said landmarking the church was at the top of his wish list since Day One. He acknowledged that the church may not now be able to raise the money it needs for restoration. “We know that, but that’s not under our purview,” he said. “We’re looking at this in terms of its architecture and its significance to the city, and that’s our responsibility.”
    Stephen Byrnes is an idiot, and really encapsulates why Landmarks needs to be dramatically altered, or disbanded outright.

    He KNEW that landmarking the church would destroy it, and did it anyways becuause of political pressure from NIMBYs who don't want affordable housing and don't want their views blocked.

    Now, instead of a restored church, and much-needed middle-income housing, we're about to get a giant abandoned and decaying church. Gee, what a "landmark"!

    And no one bothered to landmark it for a half-century, but the second the church was to be renovated, they had to designate it, thus preventing the fixup.

    Maybe if the Upper West Side is REALLY lucky, they will get a Limelight drug den-style situation, when the only tenant willing to pay rent to occupy an abandoned church will be a community-destroying nightclub.

    Hopefully, this landmarking does not really preclude redevelopment of the site. Assuming the parish house isn't landmarked, the church can still be restored and saved, and the housing will be built. The NIMBYs will obviously complain, but there is no possible scenario where they won't complain.

  13. #58
    Senior Member
    Join Date
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    The Catskills


    ^^ I'm more perplexed by the two renderings/proposals by the "friends" of West Park Presbyterian. Those tumors on the roof protect the integrity of this landmark because they incorporated the facade into such monstrosity?

    Where has intelligence gone? The city is in desperate need of a building and design committee, and yet without proper guidelines and controls, it could become a monster instead of a constructive instrument that protects and furthers the built environment of the city. This is more than a cautionary tale, it is one more chapter in a continuing horror story. God help us.

  14. #59


    The first proposal looks OK. Revitalization.

  15. #60


    Oh, God, No

    By Eliot Brown

    February 16, 2010 | 6:24 p.m

    In the world of New York Presbyterians, the decision last month by a city agency to designate an Upper West Side church a landmark landed with a thud. With the church facing a repair bill for its iconic red sandstone building at 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, a bill far greater than any available funds, the action was viewed by the congregation of the West-Park Presbyterian Church as an affront to its autonomy and a potential death knell, given its strained finances.

    Church leaders argue that the decision, urged for years by the city's major preservation groups and the local councilwoman, Gale Brewer, would hold the congregation hostage to the new landmark restrictions, precluding their plans to sell off a piece of the property to a developer to help fund a future existence.

    So West-Park is fighting back. It's making a last-ditch effort to convince the City Council to take the highly unusual action of overturning a designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Enlisting the help of New York's broader Presbyterian community, the church leadership has requested that pastors and their members lobby the Council to stop the designation.

    On the Presbytery of New York City's Web site is a set of talking points on the issue, including a less-than-friendly suggested draft letter a pastor could send to a council member: "If you and your fellow City Council members approve the LPC's action, every church, synagogue, mosque, temple and religious institution across the city will not be safe from the actions of marauding preservationists," the draft letter reads. "The LPC's recommendation solely benefits a handful of neighborhood preservation groups who are not members of West-Park's congregation. Brewer is mining the LPC's action for her own personal political gain, calling it 'a victory for the Westside.'"

    In an email Tuesday, West-Park's pastor, the Rev. Robert Brashear, said that "[t]he government has no right to take away the life of a church to save a building," and that he "will be interested to see if council members are willing to look at the principle."

    Aspersions aside, the decision to designate the church is a rare one, garnering much attention in the preservation world given that it involves landmarking a notable religious institution over the objections of its owner.

    The LPC typically avoids landmark designations without the owner's consent, and churches and synagogues around the city loath the concept of submitting to eternal restrictions on their properties, lest they be unable to sell off or change their buildings when finances tighten.

    But West-Park has topped the wish list of preservationists for at least two decades, as they've sought to block any possible changes or demolition of the handsome, historic Romanesque Revival structure. The fears of preservationists were especially ignited in recent years as the cash-strapped congregation began tapping developers-first the Related Companies, then Richman Housing, in a $15 million deal-to knock down all or part of the structure and build an apartment tower in its place (with the proceeds going to the church). With a need for an estimated $5 million-plus in structural repairs, the money for which was to come from the development sale, the church is now closed, and the congregation is temporarily housed in a neighboring church.

    All that is not to say that the push to overturn the LPC's decision has much chance of success. The Presbytery is by no means the most politically powerful religious group in town, claiming a membership of just 17,000. Further, the Council, which must vote later this winter or spring, almost always defers to the local member on land-use decisions such as this, and Ms. Brewer has for years been a devoted proponent of landmarking the church.

    "I don't think we're going to have a problem with it," Ms. Brewer said, saying that thus far, her constituents have voiced far more support for the designation than opposition.

    Then again, a Council vote upholding the landmarking may not end the issue. The LPC has a "hardship" process meant for charities and other groups that are under strain because of their expensive buildings. One of the possible end results of that process: demolition, which was last used by St. Vincent's in Greenwich Village in its effort to build a new hospital on the site of a landmark Modernist building.

    Copyright The New York Observer.

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