The Full Nelson

The Children's Aid Building at 209-19 Sullivan Street–Converting Properties Under Landmark's Watchful Eye

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The Children's Aid Society's Property at 209-19 Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village recently sold for $33,000,000 to Broad Street Development. According to the Wall Street Journal, the developer's plan is to turn the site into a 60,000-square-foot luxury condo. If they're successful in getting their plans approved, it will translate to $550 per buildable square foot.

Building in a Landmark Historic District, especially in Greenwich Village, can be highly scrutinized. Andrew Berman's Greenwich Village Historical Society launched an early offensive against the project hoping to preserve the existing structure.

Broad Street principal Raymond Chalmé was quoted as saying: "It's a sensitive neighborhood so we'll make sure to keep with its character and style. We're not planning on building one of these crazy towers.”

It remains to be seen what will be approved at this site, but Chalmé is wise to try and embrace the community, as he'll need the support.

Underwriting a project where it's uncertain of what can be built is a challenge. When we market development sites within historic districts, we are quick to tell buyers that we can't guarantee what square footage will be approved.

Most buyers will look for contingencies, but we advise sellers to avoid these provisions as a buyer could end up abandoning the project and ruining it for the next prospect. Thus, most developers will have their architects try and reach out for some type of initial feedback from Landmark's to see what might be feasible.

At the end of the day, it can be a slow roll of the dice, as these approvals can often take a year or more. In some cases like, the St. Vincent's Village campus, it can be years. Ultimately, approved developments in historic districts greatly benefit from the architectural merit which surrounds them and the lack of competition as large scale, mass development will not spring up.

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