The controversial real estate developer Ira Shapiro, who is currently affiliated with a new Manhattan based real estate firm called Hartford CP Management, is continuing to make headlines for all of the wrong reasons. The latest hullabaloo surrounds his plans to convert a landmarked church on Manhattan’s west side into condominiums. The church was acquired through an LLC called 361 Central Park West for $26 million.
According to a report in The Real Deal, Shapiro purchased 361 Central Park West under his sister Irene’s name. He probably did so because Shapiro still has creditors chasing after him to collect on the tens of millions of dollars in debt that the courts have ordered him to pay over his failed One Madison project.
The Real Deal explains that the reason for Shapiro to list himself as only a consultant on the project was to make it easier to raise financing for it due to his bad reputation.
Irene Shapiro is listed as a principal at Hartford CP Management. She signed the deed for the Crenshaw Christian Center East, formerly known as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The plan is to convert the 108 year old landmark house of worship into anywhere from 20 to 30 luxury condos.
The Beaux-Arts building has 30, 000 square feet and 60 foot high ceilings. Because it has landmark status it cannot be torn down but can be divided into smaller sections. The exterior with its stain glassed windows, however, must be fully preserved.
Shapiro denied any knowledge that his sister had signed the deed and said that he has already paid off $7.2 million of his debt. “I have been settling with the creditors and making payments. My role in this is purely consulting, ” he said.
He is partnering on the deal with the Brooklyn developer Joseph Brunner, who put up the $26 million.
The church bought the property over a decade ago for only $14 million. The Upper West Side is overcrowded and in depurate need of new housing so the project should prove to be profitable.
Several other Manhattan churches are also currently undergoing conversions to residential.
Shapiro is said to owe more than $100 million over the One Madison project which went into bankruptcy back in 2010. He and his wife Heather are also facing a number of law suits involving debt over their Manhattan and East Hampton homes.