July 17, 2019; Crain’s New York
NPQ has reported many times on sales of iconic real estate owned by charitable organizations in New York City. The decision generally makes sense for the organization, which often can use the capital for better things than hanging on in a market that’s so overpriced. But in the case of the Boys’ Club of New York, which sold its East Village building across from Tompkins Square Park on Tuesday, there is a little twist.
The $32 million price tag would generally translate into the development of exorbitantly priced condos, but in this case, an anonymous donor has bought the building to rededicate it to community use. The property will be managed by a foundation and eventually sold—even at a substantial financial loss—to another nonprofit.
“The goal is to keep this as a community facility,” said Paul Wolf, who is co-president of the real estate firm Denham Wolf. “The intent is to sell it to a nonprofit at a lower price than the purchase price.”
The building has been the Boys’ Club since 1901, but of late it has found the facility hinders, rather than aids their work, which takes them to other neighborhoods where there is more need. If they are like other organizations experiencing the same set of dynamics, selling the building will not only raise unrestricted capital but reduce fixed costs—in the end providing for greater ability to be nimble and innovate.
New York, of course, is not the only city with this dynamic. The 153-year-old YWCA in Boston placed its Back Bay building up for sale so it could focus more tightly and powerfully on racial justice.—Ruth McCambridge