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West Village megamansion of telecom billionaire gets LPC approval

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The Commission approved the home but with some changes

Two distinct West Village townhouses will be unified into one continues facade under a proposal to be seen by the LPC today.
via LPC Presentation Materials

UPDATE: The Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to approve the West Village’s latest megamansion on Tuesday. Plans call for converting the two buildings, owned by a telecom executive, into a single family home. While the LPC approved the application, they did ask the owner to make some changes, most notably:

  • Ensuring that there’s a single cornice at both the front and rear of the building.
  • Limiting the window shutters proposed by the architects to the parlor floor and eliminating them from the two floors above.
  • Creating a design element on the front facade that ensures the building looks like two separate buildings even though it will operate as a single family townhouse.

Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan pointed to the other buildings on the street in her suggestion about creating somewhat of a differentiation in the facade up front.

While preservation groups (the Historic Districts Council and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation) mostly praised this particular application, they too took issues with the megamansion qualities of the home. The Commission for the most part seemed to agree and asked the owner to tone down some of the design elements just a little bit.

Following the approval of Steven Cohen’s four-story megamansion last month, this is the latest such home to get the Landmarks Commission’s nod.

A proposal to unify the facades of two adjoining townhouses to lend it the appearance of the 11,000-square-foot megamansion it’s poised to become will be heard by the Landmarks Preservation Commission today. The West Village megamansion in question was purchased in 2016 for $31 million, with plans to convert them into a massive single-family home.

The proposal involves removing a drainpipe that visually divides the townhouses, updating its brick facade, replacing both front doors, adding a new cast iron gate and a bluestone walkway, and, most notably, attaching shutters to 17 of the front facade’s 21 windows. (Yup, 21 windows.)

The proposal also calls for the restoration of the rear facade as well as the repair of a wrought iron tea balcony that would become the beneficiary of a new seam copper roof. Not under the purview of Landmarks but made apparent by renderings in LPC presentation materials is that the plan also calls for one hell of a grass backyard.

The front facade’s proposed shutters have attracted the most push back ahead of the meeting. “This is a commendable project in many respects,” the Historic District Council writes in its prepared remarks for the meeting, “but the overall effect seems to erase the specificity of the two historic buildings and replace them with a pastiche of the kind of mammoth townhouse which just never existed in this community.”

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation also cautions against the appearance of a megamansion saying they hope the Commission disapproves the application to “ensure that these buildings retain a closer semblance to what they once were—either two separate houses, or a modest apartment building composed of two tenementized rowhouses.

Plans were filed with the Department of Buildings in October 2016 and approved in January 2017 to combine the two distinct townhouses, once divided into apartments, into one singular townhouse. Floorplans included in Landmarks presentation materials indicate that the townhouse will have one lock-off apartment (perhaps for live-in help), an elevator, a parlor floor study and great room, and four bedrooms plus a master suite with his and hers bathrooms, a dressing room, and two walk-in closets. The townhouse falls within the Greenwich Village Historic District.

The existing facade of the West 11th Street townhouses.