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Developer of UWS Church-Condo Conversion Withdraws Plan, Report Says

By Emily Frost | March 1, 2016 3:20pm
 A developer planned to convert the church into condos, which required adding additional windows to the facade.
A developer planned to convert the church into condos, which required adding additional windows to the facade.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The developer behind a proposed church to condo conversion has withdrawn its application because the final approval it needed from a city agency seemed unlikely, sources and a report said. 

The plan to convert the interior of the landmarked church at West 96th Street and Central Park West into 35 condos was withdrawn by 361 Central Park West LLC, as first reported by the real estate news site YIMBY.

The developer was in the midst of a nearly yearlong review of its plans at the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) where it sought allowances to bypass light and air requirements, but withdrew the plans Monday, according to YIMBY. 

The proposed changes to the landmarked exterior of the 113-year-old church met with resistance from neighbors who said the new windows made it looked "pockmarked" and the conversion plans were "inappropriate." 

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plans, which added new windows on all sides and removed religious iconography from stained glass windows at the front of the church, last March. 

The BSA process, in which the developer asked for exemptions from various zoning regulations, started last March as well. 

The developer initially bought the aging church, which some locals suggested become a community center or have some other public use, for $26 million in the summer of 2014. The fate of the building, which its most recent congregation could not afford to upkeep, is now even more unclear.  

LANDMARKS WEST!, a preservation advocacy group that has opposed the project, viewed the news with guarded optimism.

"The zoning variance process is set up to provide relief to property owners under exceptional circumstances, not to produce a financial windfall. It is cause for some hope that this shell-game application has been abandoned…for now," said the group's President Kate Wood

Neither a representative for the developer, nor the BSA, responded to request for comment. 

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