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

The Silk Building, 14 East 4th Street

Between Lafayette Street & Broadway

69
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.
 

The Silk Building is a very handsome, Italian-Renaissance-palazzo structureat 14 East 4th Street between Broadway and Lafayette Street that was erected in 1908 and converted to a residential condominium with retail spaces in 1982. 

The 12-story building has 56 apartments. 

One of the larger buildings in this neighborhood, the building occupies the entire south side of the street between Broadway and Lafayette Streets and the leasing of its entire retail spaces to Tower Records in 1983 signaled a new era in the area’s retailing and significantly bolstered this area of Broadway to a fever pitch. 

While the area had long been servicing the ever-growing student population of nearby New York University, Tower Records became a major destination store in New York and part of its success was due, in no part, to the historic cultural explosion of talent that was being exposed and discovered at the time on MTV, the Music Television channel whose videos by Madonna, Michael Jackson and many others was a short-lived but incredibly dynamic high point of Twentieth Century culture. 

The elegant renovation of this handsome building was designed by Buttrick, White & Burtis.

Bottom Line

One of the premier buildings in NoHo, this elegant building has an impressive entrance and lobby, interesting layouts and a prime retail location close to New York University and SoHo.

Description

The building, which has a large cornice and bandcourses over the first, third and eleventh floors, has a very elegant mid-block entrance flanked by four columns and topped by a pediment.  

The building has an elegant lobby, but no garage, no balconies and no sidewalk landscaping. 

It permits protruding air-conditioners.

Amenities

The building has a roof deck, a concierge, a doorman, and a live-in superintendent.  It permits pets.

Apartments

Apartment 801 has an 11-foot-wide entry foyer and a 15-foot-long bedroom on the lower level and a 17-foot-long living area with a wood-burning fireplace and a 14-foot-wide open kitchen/dining and an 11-foot-bedroom on the upper level. 

Apartment 818 is a two-bedroom duplex with a entry foyer and a 14-foot-long bedroom on the upper level and a 24-foot-long living/dining room with an open 14-foot-long kitchen and a 16-foot-long bedroom on the lower level. 

Penthouse 1109 is a quadruplex that was owned, in succession, by Russell Simmons, Keith Richards and Britney Spears, a tenant roster that gave the building considerable notoriety and fame.  The main entrance was on the 11th floor into as 17-foot-long entry/study next to a bedroom.  The 12th floor had a 54-foot-wide living room with wood-burning fireplace, a 18-foot-long dining room and a very large kitchen with an island.  The top floor had an 18-foot-wide media room and a 24-foot-wide terrace.  The 10th floor had a master bedroom with a 21-foot-wide sitting area and a 16-foot-long dressing area. 

Penthouse 1122 is a triplex unit with one bedroom and a 11-foot-wide foyer on he lower floor, a 17-foot-long living room with wood-burning fireplace and a 16-foot-long open kitchen and a library on the middle floor and a 14-foot-wide sun room with a 19-foot-wide private terrace and a 19-foot-wide common terrace on the upper floor. 

A duplex two-bedroom unit in the building has a 37-foot-long great room with wood-burning fireplace and an 11-foot-long open kitchen with an island and a 11-foot-long bedroom on the lower level and  a 14-foot-long bedroom on the upper level. 

History

In their wonderful tome, "The A. I. A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988), Elliot Willensky and Norval White made the following observations about this store: 

"After its California parent company had built three dozen units elsewhere in the world, they were ready to brave New York’s rigorous competition. As a result of that courageous full-block-deep decision (noise, music, neon, noise) came the establishment (or at least the stabilization) along Broadway below 8th Street of ’the scene’ - the mecca for punk rockers, Mohawk-topped men and Day-Glo-topped young women, both the indigenious variety (Manhattan-based) and the regional emigrants from Brooklyn, Queens, and New Jersey, called Bs & Ts (Bridges & Tunnels)." 

The Bridge & Tunnel crowd, of course, had invaded Manhattan and its uptown singles bars many years before, but while Tower’s Broadway entrance featured punk and rap and pop, it also had very, very large jazz and classical sections. Tower would subsequently expand uptown and its success would breed rivals such as HMV and Virgin and all would never again quite recapture the early exuberance and thrill of this Tower store, probably because of a general deterioration in the caliber of mega-music stars that began in the late 1980s. 

Sadly after a generation of success at the site, the Tower Records store at this location closed and the company was eventually liquidated.

Location

While the Broadway scene at the corner remains confusingly congested and very busy, the midblock entrance and Lafayette Street end are quite calm and this is one of the prime locations in NoHo close to many landmarks, restaurants, boutiques, theaters and the like. 

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