Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Tonight’s All-Star Game means we’re halfway through the baseball season and the Yankees and Mets are in first place. We’ll see what one of our sports editors has to say about a Subway Series in October. But first, we look at a landmark church on the Upper West Side that is seeking permission to demolish the nearly 140-year-old building for an apartment building.
Today it will hold a meeting about doing the opposite – allowing the demolition of a landmark building that, the owner claims, involves hardship. The commission has done so just 13 times in the 57 years since its inception.
It is the legendary West Park Presbyterian church, which has dominated a corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street since the 1880s. The church wants to move forward with a deal worth more than $30 million that would replace the structure with an apartment complex. Inside the new structure would be a 10,000-square-foot community center that the council could use or rent out, just as it now rents its building to an arts group, the Center for West Park.
The church’s proposal has put it at odds with conservationists and lawmakers, including city councilman Gale Brewer, whose district includes the site.
Building owners often grumble about a monument’s status, even requiring them to make routine repairs with the monument commission. But West Park needs more than routine repairs. Roger Leaf, the chairman of the West Park Administrative Commission, estimated that fixing all the problems in the building would cost $50 million, money he said the church doesn’t have.
As in many congregations, pews have dwindled: Leaf said West Park has 12 members. The church has not had a full-time pastor for years. It asked the New York City Rectory, which oversees 89 churches and 14 communities of worship in the five boroughs, to establish the Administrative Commission in 2010.
That was 10 years after the West Park building was designated a landmark due to church objections. By then, concerns about the building were nothing new. It was surrounded by pavement level scaffolding for years and still is.
The scaffolding makes the building difficult to appreciate except from a distance, but the monuments commission said it was “one of the best examples of a Romanesque Revival-style religious structure in New York City.” The committee praised the “extraordinarily deep color of its red sandstone cladding” and its “monumental and distinguished presence”, making it “one of the most important buildings of the Upper West Side”.
But the Church leadership voted in 2020 to sell the building.
Leaf said the building “no longer meets the needs of the Church” and is “in our view beyond repair.” The deal with Alchemy Partners, which converted the top 30 floors of the Woolworth Building in lower Manhattan into apartments, is $33 million.
“The problem we have here is a lack of will on the part of the rectory and the developer as they have invested a lot more in destroying this building so they can replace it with luxury apartments,” said Michael Hiller, a lawyer representing the center. who opposes the proposal of the church. “This development is money-making.”
Hiller said the center had offered $3.5 million for the building and would let the rectory share in the profits if it sold the air rights or the building itself. He said the Church had not responded. The church said, through a spokeswoman, that the center had failed to show it had the money for the purchase or repairs that would be needed.
Leaf said the new building would refocus the church. “With the right resources, this congregation can resurrect itself, if you will,” he said, adding that if the proposal to demolish the church, “it is almost certain that this congregation will eventually dissolve.”
Monday’s drenching rainstorms came on: It was the rainiest July 18 on record, with 1.85 inches in Central Park, according to preliminary National Weather Service figures, pushing the record 10 years ago by 0.09 inches.
Now we are in line for some scorching days starting today with highs in the mid 90s from now until at least Friday and lows in the high 70s overnight. The humidity and temperatures together will provide a heat index of about 100 degrees.
Here’s how to stay hydrated over high heat. And here’s how to keep pets safe.
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Well, how about a Subway Series?
The All-Star hiatus — the midpoint of the baseball season — seemed like the right time to wonder about a Subway Series. Is that what we should expect for October? I asked Benjamin Hoffman, a senior sports editor who manages the section’s baseball coverage, to weigh the prospects.
It had started at feel like fate. The Yankees were a Molochwho excels in all facets of the game, while the Mets kept winning no matter how many injuries piled up. The notion that the season would end in a Subway Series began to form, with seemingly few obstacles for either team.
But when May turned to June and June to July, the magic of the Mets’ season began to wear off. Batters not mentioned Pete Alonso began to falter, near wins turned into small losses, and the Atlanta Braves—who roared back last season to overtake the Mets for the National League East and eventually win the World Series—began filming a shot-by-shot remake.
Even the Yankees, who have the best baseball pretty much all season, started to show some wear the past weeks.
But with the All-Star break now here, it’s still easy to look at both clubs and see the possibility that this year’s World Series will only be in New York City.
The Yankees are seemingly unstoppable. With two blowout beats the Boston Red Sox to end the first half, they are 64-28, and have outdone their opponents by 199 runs. Their pitching has sustainability concernsbut there is no doubt that the team is talented enough to win it all.
The Mets have held back Atlanta so far and go into the break 58-35, good enough for the second best record in NL behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They have recently Max Scherzer back from the injured list, and his co-ace, Jacob de Grom, comes close to making his first Major League-start in over a year. Factor in the Mets that gets attached to every trade rumor, thanks to owner Steven Cohen’s willingness to spendand the team’s offensive problems can disappear overnight.
However, expectations must be tempered. While the Subway Series was once a reality for Major League Baseball—the Yankees faced the New York Giants or the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series 13 times between 1921 and 1956—it has been a rarity ever since. The only edition to come since the Giants and Dodgers shot to California for the 1958 season was in 2000, a World Series that was equally reminded of Roger Clemens’ decision to throw a piece of a broken bat at Mike Piazza of the Mets (Clemens claimed he thought it was the ball) as it is for the actual league (the Yankees won the series in five games).
I was with my brother in New York in the winter of 2004. He took me to dinner at Honmura An in SoHo.
Soon there were two people sitting next to us.
“Yoko Ono,” Matt said. “Sean Lennon.”
We pretended New York cool, didn’t interrupt or acknowledge them while we all enjoyed our delicious Japanese noodle dinners.
A few nights later we were at the Park Avenue Armory for the winter antiques show. And there she was again: Yoko Ono.