For a stretch of the 1970s, a large chunk of Harlem's residential real estate belonged to the city, which took control of it after owners abandoned their homes and stopped sending in tax checks. The city's next idea: sell off 150 houses for cheap! Enter architect Bill Ryall, who paid $42,000 for one four-story SRO on West 118th Street. Ryall and his partner, MoMA architecture and design curator Barry Bergdoll, spent $300,000 renovating the house with lots of exposed beams for a lofty feel. Their work turns up in the March issue of Dwell, and the place has aged pretty nicely. But the story is grimmer for the rest of the 150 properties sold: only 10 were ever renovated, and many of the other buyers defaulted. If the city ever decides to repeat the $42,000 townhouse experiment, we predict the results would be better now.
· Manhattan - Ideas [Dwell via Harlem Bespoke]