Maybe the third time will be the lucky charm for the long-in-the-works conversion of a two-story building in the West Village. For the third straight time, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a proposal to transform 145 Perry Street. Each time the proposal has been radically different, but in its latest avatar, Billionaire hedge funder Steven Cohen has proposed a four-story megamansion next to a six-story apartment building—all to be inhabited by his family.
Cohen purchased the property back in 2012 for $38.8 million, property records reveal. But before all of that developer Scott Sabbagh had once planned a seven-story boutique hotel, designed by Morris Adjmi, at the site, which the LPC approved in 2008. That plan fell through and the following year a new developer—Madison Equities—proposed a hotel and townhouse project to be designed by David Helpern. That too was approved by the Landmarks Commission, but nothing came of it.
In both instances, West Village residents had been vociferously opposed to the developments and started a community group—The Perry Street Crusaders—to push for a rezoning effort that would ensure that area remained residential. They were successful in their efforts, but that hasn’t stopped billionaires from wanting to erect megamansions on this prime block at the intersection of Washington Street, and just a block away from the Hudson River.
Opposition remained for the newest proposal as well with some local residents particularly galled by the fact that the larger, hand-laid brick-clad building was actually the townhouse, and the smaller building next to it, the apartment house.
“We were able to stop a 100-room hotel at this site, but we’re basically faced with a same-sized home,” Jordan Chapps, a member of the Perry Street Crusaders, lamented at the meeting.
Preservationists were in opposition to Cohen’s megamansion as well with Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation releasing the following statement:
“The overly grand, fortress-like proposed single-family mansion, which will seem like a proverbial moated castle in the West Village, along with the attached glass and metal apartment building for the owner’s children, will stick out like sore thumbs. How can a building that would look like a home on Rodeo Drive or in Miami possibly be considered appropriate for the Greenwich Village Historic District? We’re all for new and creative ideas, but this is a really a bridge too far.”
He pointed to a new Louis Vuitton store in Miami as a point of comparison.
LPC Commissioners however were quite excited by the proposal (it only garnered one negative vote), and even those on the fence—like Commissioner Diana Chapin, who was concerned about its museum-like design, and its place in the historic district—ultimately voted to support the project.
“The design is quite marvelous and fits well with the corner,” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said. “Washington Street has a mix of buildings that include garage buildings, industrial buildings, and residential buildings so I was quite persuaded by the analysis they showed us,” she added, referring to the presentation by Higgins, Quasebarth & Partners, the preservation consultants on the project, and the new architect, Leroy Street Studio Architecture.
This most recent plan was unveiled in August, and Cohen’s megamansion approval comes shortly after the news that his Beacon Court Penthouse is now off the market. Originally listed for a staggering $115 million in 2013, the price had come down to $72 million by last April. At the time that it was taken off the market, it was listed for $67.5 million.