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Park Avenue Church Site Turned Condo

Category: Finance,Real Estate

An Upper East Side condo that displaced a popular Park Avenue preschool in 2013 and had to be scaled down to meet historic district requirements will finally start sales this month.

The condo, 1010 Park Avenue, is an 11-unit offering from the Extell Development Company at East 85th Street, on the site of an annex to the Park Avenue Christian Church, whose small congregation reaped $25 million from the sale, plus two basement levels of new meeting and event space in the new building.

But the deal uprooted a longtime annex tenant, the Park Avenue Christian Church Day School, an upper-crust preschool that had to abruptly relocate to the Upper West Side just as the 2013 school year was to start. At the time, angry parents called Extell to complain, the company’s executives said.

But if disgruntled families are no longer as much of a concern, the condo could face other headwinds.

Although prices were reduced earlier this year, units in the new building are comparatively costly, an average of about $4,000 a square foot, according to Extell, or more than 40 percent higher than the price similar projects nearby fetch, based on market data.

“Prices don’t seem realistic,” said Donna Olshan, the president of Olshan Realty, a boutique Upper East Side brokerage, who has toured the building. “Developers can try to market and throw parties and all kinds of things, but in the market right now, there’s only one tool in the toolbox — only one — and it’s called ‘price.’”

Yet Extell’s aggressive approach is perhaps understandable, given its original plans for the site.

The company, known for large-scale projects like One57, the 94-unit, 90-story Midtown condo, had planned a much larger project. The original version had 20 stories, according to Extell; the current building has 16. And the previous version had six additional apartments, for a total of 17.

More significant, the original plans called for a cantilever, with a glassy hulk that jutted over the roof of the adjacent 1911 Gothic Revival church. Facing community opposition, Extell withdrew the cantilever plan in 2013.

But even a scaled-down and more traditional-looking tower struggled to pass muster with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which didn’t give its final approval until 2015. The site is in the Park Avenue Historic District, which was created in the spring of 2014 as neighbors protested this project.

Less detrimental to revenue than the downsizing of the project, but still burdensome, was the Commission’s request that fieldstones from the annex be reused on a portion of the new building’s facade, said Gary Barnett, Extell’s founder: “It cost us a fortune.”

The city approval process also delayed the closing by several years, piling on expenses, he said. That is partly why Extell, in an atypical move, did not construct a sales office for 1010 Park, which might have required an extra $5 million, Mr. Barnett said. Instead, Extell is marketing a completed building that buyers can move into immediately.

“To be honest, if I had known how difficult this would be, I wouldn’t have started,” Mr. Barnett said. “But at the end of the day, you’re in a risky business. When you start a development like this, you don’t know where you will end up.”

At the same time, the developer may be squeezed by the market. Since the state approved 1010 Park’s offering plan in May 2017, Extell has reduced prices by about 10 percent, Mr. Barnett said.

The revised offering plan, approved this spring, calls for a starting price of about $13 million, for a 3,900-square-foot unit with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, or more than $3,300 a square foot. To put those prices in perspective, new condos on the Upper East Side averaged $2,306 a square foot in the second quarter of this year, according to the Corcoran Group.

All told, there are nine single-floor units — each occupying a full floor — and two duplexes, both of which have private terraces.

Inside, kitchen cabinets are from Smallbone of Devizes, the English company known for its hand-painted woodwork, and veiny white marble adorns the master bathrooms.

The limestone building, designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, also has three levels of amenities, including a 50-foot pool, a lounge with a marble fireplace and a circus-themed children’s playroom.

Mr. Barnett predicted that his building, a condo in an area filled with co-ops, would do well and sell all of its units in a speedy six months. “Co-ops can have creaky elevators, leaky roofs and no amenities,” he said. “This is a really great alternative.”

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A version of this article appears in print on , on Page RE4 of the New York edition with the headline: Once Home to a Preschool, It Had to Scale Back to Old School. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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