This summer, we brought you the story of the closure of the Nativity Mission Center, a Jesuit-run middle school that provided education to low-income boys from the neighborhood and had made its home at 204 Forsyth St. for four decades. This week, city land records show that a new chapter is opening in the history of the school building–which may well mean its demise. In a deal recorded Oct. 22, developer Charles Saulson acquired the property for $4.5 million. Combined with his March purchase of a vacant lot next door at 206 Forsyth St. for $1.7 million, Saulson now owns a parcel that stretches 50 feet wide and 100 feet deep, facing Sara D. Roosevelt Park just south of East Houston Street.
When we interviewed leaders at the now-shuttered school a few months ago, they believed that Saulson eventually planned a mixed-use development on the two parcels. Saulson did not immediately respond to requests from The Lo-Down for details on his plans this week.
We can’t really blame him for being press-shy: he’s deep into unrelated civil litigation stemming from a nasty squabble with his neighbors at a condo building he owns at 259 Bowery. In that case, which made many a scatalogical headline last year, Saulson is being sued by Sperone Westwater Gallery next door. The gallery’s owners allege that Saulson repeatedly vandalized their Norman Foster-designed tower, including removing exterior aluminum paneling and hurling “fecal matter” onto their sculpture terrace from above. Saulson has disputed their claims, as well as complained that the gallery’s construction infringed on his property line by 4.8 inches. The lawsuit passed its one-year anniversary in August and is still going strong, with the Sperone Westwater side just changing attorneys, according to court records.
Whatever the future of 204-206 Forsyth St., the nature of any development there will be limited by certain Roman Catholic Church principles: In deeding the properties over to Saulson, the church included covenants that specifically prohibit “public obscene performances” and “performing any abortions or euthanasia proceedings,” there, as well as the posting of any signs relating to “abortions, euthanasia and birth control.”
We’re hoping to learn more about Saulson’s plans soon; stay tuned.