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West Village Houses conversion details
By Carter Horsley   |   From Archives Tuesday, September 27, 2005
The 418-unit, 42-building complex known as West Village Houses is in the process of being converted from rental to co-operative apartments. A "red herring" has been submitted to the New York State Attorney General?s office and the issuance of a "black book" for the conversion is anticipated soon according to postings on the tenants? association?s website?s discussion board.

The complex extends from Bank to Morton Streets between Washington and West Streets and some of the first buildings were completed in 1974 although planning for the project began in the late 1960s.

Designed by Perkins & Will, the low-rise, brown-brick complex was described by Elliot Willensky and Norval White in their book, "The A. I. A. Guide to New York City Architecture, Fourth Edition" (Three Rivers Press, 2000), as "The scene of the great war between the defenders of ?Greenwich Village scale? and the Establishment, which proposed another high-rise housing project." "The David in this case was Jane Jacobs, the Goliath, Robert Moses, the city?s urban renewal czar. A pyrrhic victory for David: the 5- and 6-story red brick products are dumpy, dull, and for their time, expensive. Scale simply isn?t enough!," the authors maintained.

In a May 15, 2005 article in The New York Times, Josh Barbanel described the developed as "once the ugly duckling of Greenwich Village."

The historic complex is, indeed, very plain, although it does contain several gardens. Its location, however, has changed radically and is now one of the most desirable in the city as a result of the building of Hudson River Park nearby and the booming redevelopment in recent years of the Far West Village and Chelsea neighborhoods.

Jane Jacobs, the author of "The Death and Life of American Cities" and a resident of Greenwich Village, moved several years ago to Canada.

The complex was acquired in 1976 as a Mitchell-Lama rental development and in 2002 the current owners, Island Capital Group, which is headed by Andrew Farkas, the former chairman of the Insignia Financial Group, announced plans to leave that program and the following year a tenants association filed a lawsuit that sent a dispute over whether the apartments would be eligible for rent stabilization to the state?s Division of Housing and Community.

Under the terms of an agreement announced May 20, 2004 by Mayor Bloomberg, however, the lawsuit was dropped and the association was allowed to form an affordable non-eviction co-op. The agreement was also intended to keep rents below market rates for residents who do not buy into the co-op and the Bloomberg administration will ask the City Council to approve a tax exemption for the development that will maintain its tax abatement at the current level for 12 years. The agreement requires that more than half of the tenants buy into the co-op.

The "red herring" dated February 28, 2005 indicated that 1,200,000 shares would be allocated to the 418 apartments for sale for $82,596,000.

The addresses include 105, 107, 111, 115, 119 and 121 Morton Street; 125, 146, 131, 133, 137 and 141 Barrow Street; 142, 146, 152, 156 and 162 Bank Street; 348, 349, 352 and 357 West 11th Street; 376, 379 and 382 West Street; 738-42 Greenwich Street and 618, 622, 626, 634, 638, 642, 668, 680, 684, 690, 700, 704, 708, 712 and 726 Washington Street.

There are 35 3 1/2 ?room apartments, 261 4 ?-room units, 69 6-room units, 52 7-room units and 1 8-room unit. The buildings are mostly five-stories tall and many have fire escapes.

The purchase price of apartment 4B at 105 Morton Street, for example, would be about $336,582 to a tenant and $393,269 to a non-tenant.
Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.