Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York, NY)

Wells Hill was engaged by the Cathedral to assist in formulating and implementing a plan to monetize the Cathedralā€™s most valuable asset, its land, while retaining long-term ownership of such land. First, Wells Hill helped to identify certain vacant areas on the Cathedralā€™s 11.3-acre urban campus in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan best suited for development. Then Wells Hill assisted in creating a two-project strategy that would enable the Cathedral to realize the value of the sites through long-term ground leases to third-party developers. Wells Hill and Cathedral Trustees defined the real estate initiative’s mandate to produce financial sustainability for the Cathedral while insuring that development would be architecturally compatible with the rest of the buildings on the campus and would be congruent with the Cathedral’s mission. In addition, Wells Hill led a specialized team to interact with the community and the Landmarks Preservation Commission to restrict the development of each of two sites to a specific envelope and to maintain control over design. Wells Hill then managed a discreet marketing and negotiation process for the first site, resulting in the selection of AvalonBay Communities as lessee and the execution of a 99-year ground lease, under which AvalonBay developed a 300-unit residential rental building. As a result of a similar process run by Wells Hill with respect to the second site, The Brodsky Organization was selected as lessee under a 99-year ground lease, whereby Brodsky developed a 450-unit residential rental building. Additionally, in two separate transactions, the firm arranged financings on the Cathedralā€™s behalf on each fee interest subject to the respective ground leases mentioned above.