Sir, bless this house.
A 40-year project in the making is finally being implemented at a one-of-a-kind development site in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights.
This month, a sales launch at Claremont Hall, a 354,000-square-foot, 41-story, 460-foot-tall development that will contain mostly luxury apartments (early sales are already in full swing).
The tower’s 165 residences will house the 10th to 41st floors, with a combination of one to four bedrooms, priced at $ 1 million to $ 6.5 million.
In addition, three penthouses will lead the project, and pricing for these units has not yet been announced. Who said you have to store all your treasures in heaven?
All of this in itself will make Clermont Hall one of the most significant towers ever to reach the neighborhood in the northwest corner of Manhattan that is anchored by the lower Columbia University. But the entrepreneur’s collaboration with the Union Theological Seminary – a theological graduate school founded in 1836, the oldest independent seminary in the United States – is what sets it apart.
In fact, the building was built at the north end of the huge courtyard of the school that faces Clermont Avenue.
Adding a pedigree to the project is the office of an obsessive limestone architect to the wealthiest architectural firm, Robert AM Stern (RAMSA), who takes care of both the facade and interior of the tower’s residences. CetraRuddy, another high-profile designer, creates the public spaces including the lobby.
The developer is Lendlease, famous for its work on the Sydney Opera House and the Sept. 11 National Monument and Museum, in collaboration with L + M Development Partners and Daiwa House Texas.
The project was completed last October and is scheduled to be completed in 2023. When it opens, it will include services such as a 48-foot indoor swimming pool, a gym, a walnut-covered library, a tenants’ lounge with a terrace, a children’s playroom and a “creative creator room.”
But getting here took effort in biblical proportion. The seeds of the project were planted in the 1980s, according to Fred Davy, the seminary’s senior strategic adviser, when the school tried to find money to pay for its maintenance.
“We needed funding to sustain ourselves and move on,” he said. “We had a lot of problems with our plumbing, front and heating.”
In the process of exploring their options, school officials realized they had access to 300,000 square feet of air rights over its campus worth millions. By 2017, these unresolved maintenance issues had significantly worsened, but the school had yet to find a way to generate profits from their lucrative air rights.
“We tapped Lendlease for help, and Claremont’s idea was born,” Davy said.
In June 2020, both sides closed a $ 60 million deal to sell the rights to the air and the project broke through in July.
The Theological Union campus of the seminary was built in 1908 in the Gothic Revival style, and Paul Wallen, a partner at RAMSA who designed the Clermont Hall with partner Serge Gardiner, says the two envisioned a building that blends in with this original aesthetic.
“We wanted to stay true to the history of the building but it’s clear to make it relevant today,” he said.
Their brick structure has a gray tinge and includes failures along its entire length that help break its scale. Contrasting bricks and cast stone play in the design. Whalen says the foundation includes Gothic stonework and that the detail of the building becomes more abstract and less three-dimensional as it rises to the sky. Large-sized gothic arches frame the top.
“They’re exaggerated so you can see them from a distance,” he said.
The residences are supposed to be equally bold and have bay windows and Gothic-inspired terraces. Natural light is a key feature.
Claremont Hall is a coated addition to Morningside Heights, says real estate agent Corcoran Julia Bolland, who lives nearby.
“This is a neighborhood with so many opportunities and one that has undergone a change in recent years,” she said. “Clermont is coming at the right time and it’s a very exciting project.”
It is also one of several shiny new residential developments with famous architects appearing for the first time in the area. Others include Vandewater, a neo-Gothic luxury tower designed by INC Architecture, Eleven Hancock in Morningside Park and 300 West, a 15-story luxury building at 122nd Street. The latter two were designed by esteemed architects Issac & Stern.
Living prices in these new buildings range from $ 1,200 to $ 2,200 per square foot, Boland says.
“Ten years ago, new units cost $ 700 per square foot,” she said.
Still, Boland adds, buyers get tremendous value for money, compared to similar apartments below 96th Street, where prices are much higher per square foot.
Boland is so excited about Clermont Hall that she examines apartments in the building herself.
“I’m obsessed with clean design,” she said. “I know I want a room with two bedrooms. I’m just trying to figure out which floor plan would be best for me.”
But not everyone is thrilled that a secular exercise in making money transcends sacred ground.
As early as 2015, in the early days of the project, students from the seminary gathered to recreate Jesus driving the money changers from the temple. They protested on the tower with signs that read, “What will Jesus build?” And, “There are no apartments in the kingdom of heaven!” Gothmist reported. Segal, like Dr. Cornell West, likened it to the Tower of Babel.
But for Davy, the project allows the school to continue its 114-year legacy of sharing the gospel. He says the school has spent some of the $ 60 million to install new plumbing, air conditioning and heating. A faster wireless network and refurbished classrooms will come later.
“Money is a game changer for us,” Davy said. “We have a completely new and renewed life.”