Tower for St. John’s?

Word has it that Eugene M. Grant, the owner of the massive St. John’s Building, which spans W. Houston St. between Washington and West Sts. across from Pier 40, was recently trying to entice developers into the idea of buying the property by saying that a residential tower could be constructed on top of it.

Chris Schlank, managing partner of Savana Partners, said he received a copy of the offering book that Eastdil Realty issued to developers on behalf of Grant. “I know that part of their marketing hook was that there was an additional 240,000 square feet of F.A.R. [buildable air rights],” Schlank said. “They were saying you could build a big tower. They didn’t get their number — they were asking $500 million — so they decided not to sell.”

Schlank noted that either a rezoning or a variance would be needed to convert to or build residential in the manufacturing-zoned area. Schlank said the lease of Merrill Lynch, which currently rents a lot of space in the building, is up in a few years, but that the existing building would be “difficult” to develop residentially because it has such large floor plates, making light an issue. The High Line used to connect to the St. John’s Building, allowing trains to roll right in and unload. Meanwhile, Schlank is still waiting for ImClone to move into the space he leased to them in the U.P.S. building across the street from the St. John’s Building. ImClone was set to move in before its president, Sam Waksal, was busted in an insider trading scandal that also implicated Martha Stewart.

—Lincoln Anderson

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