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Renderings via Jack L. Gordon Architects (JLGA) and Morningside Heights Historic District Committee Renderings via Jack L. Gordon Architects (JLGA) and Morningside Heights Historic District Committee
The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) filed construction permits last month for a new academic building on their Morningside Heights campus at 3080 Broadway between West 122nd and 123rd streets. Earlier this year, the 130-year old academic institution sold 262,000 square feet of its air rights and a residence hall to Savanna Real Estate Fund for $96 million. JTS later sold a second residence hall on West 120th Street to a separate undisclosed buyer. According to the Wall Street Journal, the sales are in line with real-estate strategies pursued by many of the city's landowning nonprofit organizations who are seeking to cash in on Manhattan’s high real-estate values.
The courtyard-ed campus, opened in 1929, overlooks the 1-train’s subway tunnel entrance and is distinguished by a conservative red brick building and a tall, gable-roofed entrance tower. JTS plans to use the sale proceeds to fund a $96 million multi-year modernization which will build a new performing arts space, a residence hall and a new library that will house the institutions rare collection of Judaic books, manuscripts and scrolls. Acclaimed architects, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien will be designing the new academic spaces and construction is expected to begin within the coming months. Permits show the new building will rise 11 stories and 135 feet high and the schools various functions will be scattered throughout.
JTS photo via Curbed / The Jewish Theological Seminary Facebook page.
Savanna will be replacing the dormitory it purchased on JTS' campus with a residential tower that will soar between 30 and 40 stories. The building will be positioned midblock along West 122nd Street and Beyer Blinder Belle has been tapped to design the 250,000-square-foot high-rise. The firm is well known for their sensitive and contextual solutions in historical areas and have served as the architects of record for many of the city's top condominium buildings. Unconfirmed, and likely preliminary renderings of the tower have emerged online. Both show conservative designs rising roughly 30-stories tall. For context, the nearby Riverside Church rises approximately 380-feet high.
Vision of the JTS Campus residential tower, via Jack L. Gordon Architects
The proposed size of the tower has alarmed residents in the neighborhood where buildings rarely rise above 20 stories. City Councilman Mark Levine launched an online petition last spring demanding Savanna to build a tower that respects the scale and context of Morningside Heights. Later this week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will also hold a long-anticipated hearing regarding the creation of a historic district in the neighborhood. Maps yet to be finalized show that Savanna's proposal would not be affected and the district would stretch south and west of JTS’ campus, from 109th to 119th streets.
JTS’ deal with Savanna mirrors one that the Union Theological Seminary is trying to put together across Broadway. That organization hopes to raise approximately $100 million by selling land and air rights to a developer who would be allowed to build a 350,000-square-foot condo tower. While dominated by pre-war rentals and co-ops, the handful of condominiums sales in Morningside Heights average slightly above $1,000 per square foot, per CityRealty data.
Flyer created by Historic Morningside Heights The Morningside Heights Historic District Committee
Google Earth illustration with 30-story JJTS tower on the right, massing of 450-foot high Union Theological Seminary tower ont he right
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