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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

250 East Houston Street

Between Avenue A & Avenue B

Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of CityRealty.com.
 

Every decade or so during much of the 20th Century, there are pleasant real estate surprises in New York City, instances where private developers have gone out on a figurative limb and built projects in areas that are not "hot," and, indeed, may well be on the fringe of conventionally considered "safe" development, or beyond.

Some examples include the "Dakota" apartment house on Central Park West at 72nd Street in the 1880's, the River House on 52nd Street along the East River in the 1920's, and World Wide Plaza on Eighth Avenue and 50th Street in the 1980's.

This project, which was completed in 1989, was the first substantial new private development in the southern portion of the East Village in many years.

This sprightly, pleasant and charming rental apartment building was a bold interruption of the area's extensive inventory of tenement structures.

Houston Street, east of Lafayette Street, separates the East Village on the north from the Lower East Side on the south and both large areas were bypassed by new residential development, apart from public housing projects, for most of the 20th Century.

The burgeoning popularity of the SoHo District to the west and the Flatiron and Union Square districts to the north began to focus attention on these areas as did the continuing expansion to the north of Chinatown to the south.

In the 21st Century, however, things began to change and so rapidly did new towers sprout up, especially along the Bowery, that the city instituted new contextual zoning for much of the Lower East Side area.

Houston Street is one of the city's major, and broadest, crosstown arteries and to the west it separates Greenwich Village from SoHo.

The East Village real estate market began to heat up in the 1980's with many new restaurants and art galleries and an overflow of boutiques catering to the younger generations that flocked to the Broadway corridor south of Grace Church at 10th Street.

This 13-story, red-brick building has spectacular views in all directions from most of its upper floors. It is notable for its rooftop watertank enclosure that sports large clocks on its four sides. The building has many attractive balconies and is across the street from a playground.

It has a doorman and concierge, a sundeck, a private garden, video security, storage space, a recreation room and a bicycle room and it permits pets. It has 10 apartments per floor.

It was developed by Michael Rosen, a former assistant professor of management at New York University, and a former student, Brian Vail. Its site, between Avenues A and B, was formerly a service station.

"I thought it was a nice name, considering the location and the fact that the building is both red and squarish," Mr. Rosen told Richard D. Lyons in an article published in the April 9, 1989 edition of The New York Times.

The building was designed by Schuman Claman Lichtenstein & Efron and has 23,000 square feet of retail space.

Mr. Rosen, who would become a co-owner with Michael Shaoul of the property, put a clock on the roof with the "Askew" design of a M & Company watch that was featured in the Museum of Modern Art.

In a July 27, 1997 article by Martin Stolz in The New York Times, Mr. Shaoul said that the clock "fit the building's image as being a little off-center," adding, however, that "subsequently, we've had terrible problems with it" and eventually the solid faces were redesigned.

In 1994, an 18-foot-high statue of Lenin by Yuri Gerasimov was added to the roof. It had been a state-commissioned work but when the Soviet Union collapsed it was never put on display until it was found by an associate of Mr. Shaoul in the backyard of a dacha near Moscow.

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