Last summer, a fire-scarred multi-family property on West End Avenue came onto the market with a $9.975 million price tag. That may seem like a high price for a burned-out building, but this isn’t an ordinary townhouse; the property, you see, dates back to 1886, and is one of the few remaining Manhattan townhouses constructed by McKim, Mead and White.
But despite the property’s history and architectural pedigree, it’s still difficult to envision what it could look like, given its current fixer-upper state. “It’s odd to even find a McKim, Mead and White townhouse,” explains Peter Comitini, a Corcoran broker who is repping the property along with Laurie Lewis. “To have this kind of provenance on a personal property like this is really extraordinary.”
So the brokers decided to enlist Morris Adjmi Architects to create a new look for the townhouse. “We didn’t want to sell a fire sale; we wanted to sell a vision,” says Lewis.
According to Lewis, under Adjmi’s proposed plans, the megamansion in the making could be expanded to approximately 10,500 buildable square feet. And given the type of buyer the brokers are targeting—a “high net worth client,” per Lewis—the plans come with a number of posh amenities, including a screening room, conservatory, “piano gallery,” and a full-floor pool with two lounges. If a potential buyer transformed the house according to the Adjmi plans, it could be valued at over $25 million.
The brokers brought Adjmi on, in part, because of his experience working with landmark buildings; this particular home is located in the Riverside-West End Historic District, so any changes to its exterior must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The architect and brokers have already shown some of the plans to the LPC, and tweaked them appropriately.
“Some of the big design issues have been worked out already,” says Comitini. “The facade has been redesigned and the historical research done on it, and the back has been passed by Landmarks for a reaction.” The idea, according to Comitini, is to “get it to a point where it’s looking and feeling like the historic building it is.”
The site could, of course, also be redeveloped by a potential buyer who doesn’t want to use Adjmi’s proposed changes. In either case, though, the buyer—who would be shelling out $9.974 million for the townhouse as-is—would be paying for the “next phase design and construction,” per the listing, and would have to take it through the LPC process.