New York’s Queen Sofía Spanish Institute Hopes to Sell its Historic Headquarters for $48 Million

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Queen Sophia Spanish Institute on Park Avenue

New York’s nonprofit Queen Sofía Spanish Institute is cashing in on equity—and good timing—to sell its historic Park Avenue headquarters for $48 million. That’s “mucho dinero” in any language, but if the recent run on nonprofit Manhattan headquarters is an indicator, the home will attract many well-financed suitors.

Queen Sophia Spanish Institute on Park Avenue

Queen Sophia Spanish Institute’s neo-Federal style architecture.

The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute has called the six-story townhouse at 684 Park Avenue its home since 1965, after philanthropist Mary Rockefeller Strong purchased the property (as well as several neighboring homes) and subsequently donated it to the organization. The institute was founded in 1954 to promote the Spanish language and Spain’s culture (designer Oscar de la Renta is currently its chairman). Originally called the Oliver D. Filley House, the building was erected as a private mansion in 1926 by prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, according to The New York Times.

The Spanish Institute features ornate moldings throughout.

Interiors feature ornate plaster moldings, oversized windows, lavish mirrors and chandeliers.

The 11,000-square-foot mansion showcases a neo-Federal style brick and wrought-iron-fenced exterior reminiscent of a Washington, D.C. embassy—down to its flying American and Spanish flags. The impressive interior features ornate plaster moldings, oversized windows, lavish mirrors, elegant winding staircases, marble fireplaces with carved mantles, and lofty vaulted ceilings decorated by tiered chandeliers. It also boasts a huge grand parlor, a distinguished library, and a courtyard terrace.

The institute's high, vaulted ceilings with chandeliers.

The Spanish Institute is emblazoned with bright Spanish hues (yellow walls and red carpets), high vaulted ceilings, tiered chandeliers, and marble fireplaces. – Photo Credit: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

Rockefeller Strong acquired the townhouses on this block to prevent them from being replaced by apartments, and thus, “saved the block from modernization,” according to The New York Times. Designated a landmark in 1970, the building appears safe from developers who have scooped up other nonprofit headquarters recently to convert to luxury residential space.

Queen Sophia Spanish Institute's garden terrace.

The mansion boasts a 26′ x 29′ courtyard terrace.

Nonprofits struggle to afford New York City’s expensive overhead so they often cash in by “selling out” for big bucks (if they own their headquarters). Recent examples include the United Cerebral Palsy, which plucked $135 million for its East 23rd headquarters, and St. John’s University, which sold a Tribeca dorm for $233 million. Now, the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute is the latest nonprofit headquarters in Manhattan to go on the block. Apparently, the “nonprofit” distinction ends at the doorstep with a wink, a nod, and an extremely generous offer.

The Spanish Institute's classic library.

The classic library boasting chandeliers, large windows and, of course, books.

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