From the religious heart of the city to a center of commerce hung with Christmas bulbs, Rockefeller Center’s transformation is nearly complete.
An entity affiliated with a long-extinct church, St. Nicholas Collegiate Church, has sold the land rights to its former Rock Center site at 600 Fifth Avenue to Tishman Speyer for $165 million, according to public records.
A partnership of Tishman Speyer and the Lester Crown family of Chicago already owns most of Rockefeller Center, including the 326,000-square-foot tower that rises at West 48th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The church, part of the Reformed Church of America, was first built on the site in 1847, according to the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists. It was replaced several decades later by an “exuberant” Gothic building, dominated by an enormous steeple. Theodore Roosevelt and his family occupied pew No. 39.
It was torn down shortly after World War II to make way for the office and retail development that we know today, but the church retained its claim to the prime land. Over the last several years, the Collegiate Asset Management Corporation, affiliated with the church, has sold off several prime assets, including 306 West 77th Street, according to city records.
Several churches have been consolidating or selling off assets of late, as The Observer has noted. Still, rarely are we likely to see one this financially grand. We weren’t the only ones intrigued by the transaction: Real Estate Weekly also had news of the deal.