New Condo to Rise at Historic Papaya King Site

Papaya King demolition

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The corner of 86th and Third Avenue may finally see some changes as developer ZD Jasper files plans for a residential building at the site. The former home of Papaya King, which has been empty since they were forced to close almost exactly a year ago, will become a 16 or 17 story condo building with approximately 25 units, according to The Real Deal.


The site at 171 East 86th Street has been a point of contention for some time now. In 2020, the historic hot dog restaurant was in a dispute with its then landlord, Imperial Sterling, over unpaid rent and an accusation of entering the property and operating a business unlawfully. With lawsuits ongoing, the property, a one-story building that also housed a Children’s Place and a Cohen’s eyeglass store, was sold to Extell Development, which was planning on demolishing the building.

Papaya King’s owners and neighborhood residents fought the closure, with neighbors and Barstool Sports organizing a “cash mob” to save the restaurant in September 2022. Despite their efforts, they were forced to vacate last April. Though they had plans to open across the street in the former Modell’s building, that has also fallen through and signs have been removed.

Though Extell won the fight to close the businesses and develop the property, they sold to Manhattan development newcomer ZD Jasper late last year for a reported $24.5 million. The site has a 5,000 square foot footprint with 150 feet of retail frontage. ZD Jasper filed plans for the mixed-used condominium space this month and plans to begin demolition soon. Archimaera is on record as the architect for the new structure.


Papaya King opened in 1932, first serving only their signature papaya drinks, and was owned and run by the Poulos family until they sold it in the early 2000s. Franchise locations came and went both in and outside of the city, even as far as Las Vegas, but all of them ultimately closed, leaving the store at 86th and Third Avenue as the first and last of the institution. Though Gray’s Papaya may have gotten more use in pop culture, Papaya King maintains it’s status as the original, home of Julia Child’s “best hotdog in New York” – and the place where Kramer famously bought his movie hot dog.


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