The longtime home of the Sixteenth Street Synagogue, 3 West 16th Street, is hitting the market for $30 million, Jack Braha, the building’s owner, told the Observer.
The six-story building, which is currently unoccupied—the synagogue was evicted from the building last January after 68 years in residence and a decade-long legal battle to stay—has 1,500 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 12,750 square feet of residential space spread out over the top five floors, which have been gut-renovated as luxury two- and three-bedroom floor-throughs. It also has 3,134-square feet of development rights, should the future owner want to construct a penthouse addition.
Mr. Braha is listing and marketing the building himself, sans broker, as either a rental property, complete with a certificate of occupancy, or as a boutique condo. The decision to sell the entire building, rather than leap into the condo market himself, stems from the complicated circumstances under which he acquired the building.
In 2006, Mr. Braha bought the building for $6.1 million, after having been approached by Steve Ancona, a member of Magen David, a Sephardic congregation that had recently started worshiping in the building. Both the Sixteenth Street Synagogue and Magen David were facing eviction, having come to the end of a legal fight that began in 1999, when the National Council of Young Israel decided to sell the building, which it had owned since the 1940s.
The parties struck a deal in which Mr. Braha would buy the building under his name, so that he could get a tax break by purchasing it with the proceeds of another sale, and front funds to develop the top floors into condos. Mr. Ancona would handle all renovations and get a 35-year lease. After the condos sold, allowing Mr. Braha to recoup his equity and a 10 percent return on his investment, Mr. Ancona would get the bottom three floors of the building, which he would donate to the congregations.
But the deal soured over delayed renovations and financial disputes, with the end result being the eviction of Mr. Ancona, Magen David and the Sixteenth Street Synagogue, which more than a year after its eviction has still failed to find a home and now holds services at two separate synagogues on East 11th and East 6th streets.
“I told them, ‘I’m really sorry about that, but I had no obligation to you. I didn’t break any deal, Steve Ancona did,'” said Mr. Braha.
In the past year, he said that he has spent millions of dollars renovating the building, but because he purchased it with a 1031 tax break, he would take a huge tax hit if he sold off the individual units as condos. Each unit in the building measures approximately 2,550 square feet, he said, and has 10-foot ceilings and a private elevator entry. The units have also been outfitted with the full complement of high-end brands: Sub-Zero, Miele, Bosch and Bertazzioni.
Mr. Braha said that he had considered renting out the apartments, but given the strength of the condo market, particularly in the Flatiron District, he decided to try selling the entire building.
“It’s finally free of litigation, free of debt, free of tenants and I figured the market was kind of hot,” said Mr. Braha of his decision.