Children’s Museum Relocating to UWS Site of Former Church Following $45M Purchase

The seller attempted to convert the Central Park West property into a residential condominium

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Seems as though Brooklyn-based developer Joseph Brunner has finally ended the ill-fated saga of trying to convert a former church into residential condominiums.

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Brunner has sold the landmarked building at 361 Central Park West between West 96th and West 97th Streets to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for $45 million, according to records made public today. The sale closed on Dec. 22.

The site is the former home of the 47,000-square-foot First Church of Christ, Scientist. Brunner, a Brooklyn developer, acquired the property in 2014 for $42 million, according to The Real Deal. He filed plans under the name 361 Central Park West, LLC, to convert the property into luxury condos later that year.

The project was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in March 2015, but then rejected later that year by Community Board 7, as New York YIMBY reported. The plans then went before the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals, where they were shot down again.

The museum is planning to relocate from 212 West 83rd Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway on the Upper West Side due to a space crunch. It currently rents the entire 33,000-square-foot building and has been there for more than 40 years, according to CoStar Group.

“[The church] is currently at capacity at our 83rd Street location and we had been actively looking to move to a bigger home,” Andrew Ackerman, the executive director of the museum, said in a prepared statement. “361 Central Park West will allow us to serve even more children and families across the city. We look forward to discussing our vision with the community in more detail in the coming weeks, as we begin the formal planning and design process to reactivate the building into a world-class children’s museum for families to visit, explore and feel part of our great city.”

Brunner did not immediately return a request for comment.