Ken Griffin, Rudin and Vornado to Spend $78M for Air Rights Above Historic Cathedral

reprints


St. Bartholomew’s Church in Manhattan is planning to sell heaven itself, or at least 250,000 square feet of it.

Ken Griffin of Citadel, Rudin Management and Vornado Realty Trust are in contract to purchase the air rights above the landmarked church at 325 Park Avenue for $78 million from the congregation, Crain’s New York Business first reported.

SEE ALSO: Developer Legion Files Permits to Demolish Office Building It Just Bought for $58M

The development rights will help the trio’s planned 51-story office building at 350 Park Avenue to serve as Citadel’s headquarters. Citadel was not involved directly in the deal pursued separately by Griffin and his joint venture partners, according to a source.

The deal was negotiated last spring but only recently became public Wednesday after a court filing in Manhattan Supreme Court surfaced. A judge is needed to approve a sale by the Episcopal church parish in line with the requirement for nonprofits selling real estate.

And it won’t be the first iconic New York City House of God being eyed by Griffin either, as the firm is going into contract to buy 525,000 square feet of air rights from St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue for a sum of $164 million, Crain’s reported in December.

Citadel did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Rudin and Vornado declined to comment.

St. Bartholomew’s also did not respond to a request for comment, but in a monthly financial update posted on its website, the church said with an undertone of dismay that it had collected only $2.2 million in financial support in 2023, below its expectations.

Citadel partnered with Rudin and Vornado in 2022 — master leasing 350 Park and 40 East 52nd Street properties and buying 39 East 51st Street — to make way to build the 1,350-foot tall skyscraper at 350 Park.

The hedge fund is currently a tenant at the 578,584-square-foot office property at 350 Park and it plans to occupy about 54 percent of the new tower, which is expected to be completed in 2032, Bloomberg reported.

The air rights from the two Midtown houses of worship Citadel needs for its office tower also would not be the first in Manhattan targeted by developers. The West-Park Presbyterian Church in the Upper West Side found its appeal to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to grant a hardship application — allowing them to demolish the church and redevelop the site with Alchemy Properties — being met with vitriol from the community and celebrities such as Mark Ruffalo.

In the end, the congregation withdrew its hardship application, which would remove its landmark status, in January.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.