For photographer Robert J. Stern, one of the best things about his late 19th century West Village home is that "nobody really notices."
The four-story brick and stucco building at 54 Seventh Avenue South, just blocks from Washington Square Park, "is kind of a secret," Stern said. “It's a trapezoidal building, almost free-standing, in the middle of the block. You go to a parking lot to get there. "
But the building between Morton and Commerce Streets has gained some notoriety lately. The commercial tenant on the ground floor is Markarian, the fashion brand that designed Jill Biden's Inauguration Day ensemble, a bold teal dress, and a matching coat.
Recognition…Pool photo by Melina Mara
However, Markarian and a tenant one floor above will soon have to look for new quarters. Mr. Stern, who bought the building in 1993 from the estate of feminist writer June D. Arnold, lists the entire building for $ 11.95 million with around $ 19,000 in annual property taxes, according to Jonathan Hettinger, who co-owned the property markets Mark Thomas Amadei, both of Sotheby's International Realty.
Mr. Stern says the building that once housed the Women's Coffeehouse is too big for him alone – his wife Yuka and their adult son Ren currently live in Japan. She moved there, he said to help with a family business, fashion brand Ms. Reiko. "It's ridiculous to live in a three-room apartment when it's just me and the dog," he said. "It's too big for us."
The building, marketed as a townhouse, was for sale in 2019. "Even if we like to believe that everything was rosy before the pandemic, 2019 was difficult for high-end real estate," said Hettinger. "A lot of properties were not sold this year."
Mr. Hettinger also points out that the building was previously marketed as a commercial property. He expects the house to attract more interest now because of the pandemic. “Basically, it checks almost every box that families are looking for, namely lots of outdoor space, high ceilings, authentic loft space, and parking for two cars,” he said, adding that it was also used by a professional as a living-work space or further like so far with the two tenants. (Both leases expire at the end of the year, he says.)
The building covers around 5,715 square feet and includes a large, unfinished basement that is currently used as a warehouse.
Recognition…Yoo Jean Han for Sotheby’s International Realty
The commercial space on the ground floor – including an 18 by 38 foot showroom, kitchenette, guest toilet, and office – has a separate entrance at the front of the building and also opens to a rear garden. The outside area is around 3,500 square meters and includes a large open space on the side of the building and a guarded forecourt where up to two cars can be parked.
“It's a miracle when you can park for one car in New York City, let alone two cars,” said Hettinger.
The floor-to-ceiling apartment on the second level contains two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, a dining room and a pantry kitchen.
On the upper two floors, where Mr. Stern and his family lived, there are three bedrooms, three complete bathrooms and a roof terrace with a pergola and around 200 potted plants and flowers. Cityscapes extend to midtown Manhattan.
The kitchen on the third floor has custom cabinetry and natural soapstone countertops. The primary bedroom suite, which spans most of the fourth floor, has a traditional Japanese tatami room, a large walk-in closet, and an en-suite bathroom with a window and a bathtub. There is also a separate laundry room.
The entire loft-like maisonette has high wooden beam ceilings, exposed original bricks, wooden floors and numerous oversized windows. One of the bedrooms was converted into a bicycle workshop for Mr. Stern, an avid cyclist. All the bathrooms have been renovated, he said.
Mr. Stern has spent the majority of his career as a fashion photographer and says he is now developing a property in the East Village. While he and his family are sad to leave their West Village home, he said, "Our time is over and I can accept that."
"I feel like I'll keep a hotel for my family when they come to New York."
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