Basic Trust Acquires $3.8M Townhouse for School Use


Basic Trust, a not-for-profit childcare center, has purchased an Upper West Side townhouse to house its programs. The organization paid $3.8 million for the four-story plus townhouse at 127 West 94th Street. The building offers 5,541 square feet. The deal closed late January.

The building is owned by The Mandell School, a preschool and kindergarten through grade 8 school which operates at several locations throughout Manhattan. Basic Trust will move into the 94th street location when Mandell’s current tenant – MCC, an organization serving autistic children – vacates in 2014, said David Lebenstein, senior managing director and principal of Cassidy Turley who represented the buyer.

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127 West 94th Street
127 West 94th Street

Basic Trust, which currently operates out of St. Michael’s Church at 225 West 99th Street, has been seeking a place of its own since about 2005, said Mr. Lebenstein, who spent years assisting the organization in their search. “On and off over many years we’ve looked at many options.” Though it had a cordial relationship with St. Michael’s, the organization felt it wanted to own its own building.

Because of the nature of its business, Basic Trust needed a townhouse or commercial condo in the same neighborhood in which it had been operating. Those specific criteria are difficult to come by in the Upper West Side Market where little new product emerges, Mr. Lebenstein said. “It’s hard to find this kind of stuff.”

In 127 West 94th Street, it found a perfect home, complete with a play area in the back yard. “It even came with the licenses they need for their preschool,” Mr. Lebenstein explained.

The Mandell School was founded in the building in 1938 by Max Mandell and three generations of his family lived in there since, including current school head, Gabriella Rowe. Originally the Mandell School served 20 children. Than number has ballooned to over 600, being served at the organization’s other locations, she said. “It all started in that townhouse.”

Mr. Mandell, who spearheaded an outreach program in the Upper West Side, would likely be pleased to see the birthplace of his institution acquired by an organization like Basic Trust, Ms. Rowe said. “It really was, I think, the perfect long term home for (Basic Trust),” she said.

Other buyers were considered but less than stellar financing put other interested parties out of the running. Basic Trust financed its acquisition with TD Bank, a mortgage and about 30 percent money down from its own reserve funds.

The building has been held in trust for the Mandell family and Ms. Rowe said the money from the sale will go towards paying for her own children’s higher education.