The future home of the Anna Delvey Foundation hits the market
The Flemish Renaissance building at 281 Park Avenue South that brought down trickster socialite Anna Delvey is being put on the market. The $135 million asking price is more than five times what Delvey was trying to raise to lease the building for her namesake foundation — an effort that ended up landing her at Rikers. “She tasted really, really good,” said Nicole Oge, founding partner of the OFFICIAL new firm of brokerage brothers Tal and Oren Alexander, who owns the property listing.
The historic six-story building at the corner of Park Avenue South and 22nd Street was built shortly after the turn of the 20th century, funded by donations from J. Pierpont Morgan and Cornelius Vanderbilt for Protestant missionary work. It has always attracted attention – Jan Broman, one of the founders of Fotografiska, the Swedish photography museum who beat Delvey for the lease, was hit after seeing it from a taxi window – but now, Oge said, it’s also an unofficial stop on tourist bus routes thanks to Delvey and Invent Anna.
In 2014, Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty bought the property for $50 million from the nonprofit Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, the property’s only second owner, who had paid just $910,000 in 1963. The Church Missions House, as it is officially called, was the last major holdout in what was once known as Charity Row. After buying it, RFR did a $30 million renovation, overseen by CetraRuddy with interiors by Roman and Williams, and signed a 15-year lease with Fotografiska in 2017, which put the museum space on three floors, the Veronika restaurant on the second, an event space on the top floor, and a private club bar in the adjacent chapel.
Veronika, the restaurant on the second floor.
Delvey’s vision for the place was a little grander: rotating pop-up shops curated by artist Daniel Arsham, exhibitions by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, three restaurants, a juice bar and a German bakery. She told people that artist Christo had agreed to wrap the building for its opening. When Delvey learned that Fotografiska was about to sign a lease, New York reported that she was furious: “How do they even pay for this? It’s like two old guys.
That Rosen registered the property with the new Alexander company is a bit surprising. The brothers are known for doing huge residential deals — they represented Ken Griffin when he bought the record-breaking penthouse at 220 Central Park South for $238 million — but lately they’ve branched out: they’ve created their own company, sold real estate in the metaverse, occasionally taking the commercial trophy list. And 281 is a trophy, Oge said. “It’s the same demographic, mental and psychographic profile,” she said of the buyer persona. “This person could be anywhere in the world and they want the best.”
Considering the building sold for $50 million eight years ago, the asking price of $135 million seems steep. But a business source suggested 281 Park could get as much out of it, given the quality of the renovation and the decade remaining on Fotografiska’s lease, which is likely paying well. (RFR was asking $125 per square foot in 2015, according to The real deal, although the number may have fallen closer to $100 by the time Fotografiska signed.) “I can tell you there’s nothing like it: the detail, the character, the feeling, the lighting” said Tal, when asked how they arrived at the asking price. “You’re never going to find a comp for this building.”
Even with more (real) money than she (legitimately) had before – a few hundred thousand dollars from the sale of her lifetime rights to Netflix, proceeds from her recent NFT sales – Delvey certainly won’t be. not in the running this time. If ever she was – although a former RFR executive helped Delvey set up meetings with big names in the restaurant world to discuss uses of the space, it’s unclear if she was really on RFR’s radar as a potential tenant. When the concierge at the boutique hotel where Delvey was staying told Rosen’s son that a guest was renting 281 from his father, he asked which room she was staying in before dismissing the story. “If my dad has someone buying her property while staying here, would she be in a deluxe room or would she be in a suite?”