This month, Riva Froymovich drops in on open houses in the West Village
Where home can be a glass-walled condo on a crooked 19th-century street
Navigating around shopping tourists, locals and celebrities on the crooked streets of the West Village on a peculiarly sunny December Sunday can be an exercise in patience.
Or it can be a pleasurable tour of brownstones and townhouses, like the weathered brick buildings with iron gates along Greenwich Street that went up before the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 imposed a more orderly grid of streets and avenues onto Manhattan.
Apartment hunters can live among it all at 71 Barrow Street, right near the Cherry Lane Theater, New York’s oldest continuously running Off-Broadway theater, if they are up for some handiwork — and five flights of stairs.
Apartment 14 has a modest-sized living room, a narrow kitchen and a large bedroom with four windows and a fireplace. It has been on the market for three months, according to Corcoran agent Mike Drossos, who was showing for broker Nancy Van Bourgondien. The co-op’s price had been marked down from $585,000 to $549,000.
“The price is very high for an unrenovated apartment,” said one 27-year-old woman who works in finance and wanted a fixer-upper for its expected savings. She’s shopping for a home in the West Village because “everything I do on the weekends is here,” she said.
“For a walk-up, it is a little pricey,” agreed another prospective buyer, a 26-year-old financial analyst. “But, it is the West Village,” he added.
He currently rents in the East Midtown area but is looking because he “just came into some money,” he said. The West Village makes sense for him because his office is in New Jersey.
Six other parties had visited the apartment that afternoon by 1:40 p.m., 40 minutes after the open house began, and more kept appearing — and staying, despite dingy carpeting and windows — to view the dated bathroom and common rooftop.
“It’s more about light and space, not necessarily condition,” said another prospective buyer, Stefan Gzyl, 28, He was looking with his girlfriend, who is 25 and declined to give her name. They are both architects.
The two rent together in the neighborhood, slightly closer to the water, and just began searching for their first purchase.
“We like the scale of the neighborhood,” she said.
Farther north, shoppers walked down Washington Street, returning from a successful Meatpacking District expedition with bags in hand and petite dog in tow. Beyond Richard Meier’s lustrous 165 Charles Street is another of his designs, Westbeth Artists, a huge live-work space for professional artists that was once a laboratory for AT & T and Western Electric until it was bought by the J.M. Kaplan Fund. Nearby, patrons throw back martinis in the afternoon hours at Barbuto.
“There are a lot of reasons to live here,” said Dennis Murphy of Prudential Douglas Elliman about Apartment 1D at 61 Horatio Street. However, “it’s about the neighborhood really,” he said.
The open house fact sheet for the co-op listed “Neighborhood Hotspots,” which include PM, Buddha Bar, Stella McCartney and Christian Louboutin.
The first-floor apartment attracted six parties by the close of the open house. It has a modern stainless-steel kitchen that opens onto the living room, which is separated from the 10-by-15-foot bedroom by a built-in wall. There is a shared terrace on the roof. Asking price is $649,000.
“It’s very Village,” and is attracting singles and couples to the modest space because of the low price point, said Murphy. The apartment is listed at 550 square feet.
“I thought it would have been [younger people], but we had a couple of older couples,” he said.
While “more inventory on the market gives buyers the feeling they can negotiate,” Murphy said, prices truly haven’t changed much in the West Village.
A young woman employed in the finance industry looking at 822 Greenwich Street felt uncertain about the neighborhood for just that reason: the price. She rents on the Upper West Side. “The liveliness, the exploration, the restaurants. That doesn’t happen up there. But you do have the park,” she said.
Apartment 1A at 822 Greenwich is a fastidiously designed one-bedroom apartment with mahogany paneling and floors, custom lighting and a wood-burning fireplace inside the bedroom, which was used to store meat when the building was constructed around 1920.
Twenty-six guests signed in by the first half-hour of the open house. It has been on the market for four weeks, but hasn’t shown for two of those weekends due to the holiday season. Asking price is $949,000.
It has an Ann Sacks mosaic on the entry floor, where a small door opens for 200 square feet of private storage space. Past a wall fountain is the living room and dining area with new Marvin custom windows. The kitchen boasts granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances, including a built-in wine fridge.
The space is completely wired with surround sound, so that a resident can listen to music as easily in the living room as in the large Roman tub or modern shower in the bathroom. There are also two walk-in closets and an office and a washer and dryer hidden behind a door.
A curly-haired blonde woman carrying a J. Crew shopping bag took the tour with wide eyes.
“Everyone and their mother want to live in the West Village,” said listing agent Sandra Balan, a vice president at Corcoran. The current owner is relocating to Europe, where the majority of his business has moved, Balan said.
“Probably 90 percent of everyone coming through here is either an investment banker or attorney,” she said. “Especially with bonuses coming in.”
This makes Balan’s job easier when it comes to approaching the co-op board.
“There’s a safety net,” she said.