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165 West 86th Street

Block 1217 Lot 1

West-Park Presbyterian Church

West-Park Presbyterian Church on northeast corner at 86th Street

By Carter B. Horsley

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 in 2008 by the church and Richman Housing Services.

View from the east

View from the east

The presentation was informational and did not require review by Community Board 7. In 2009, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission held a hearing on possible designation of the church.

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 Amsterdam 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 façade 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 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.

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