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Stately Clinton Hill landmark transforms into a shared co-living space

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Common, a co-living startup, remade a historic townhouse into one of its shared homes

Photos by Seth Caplan/Courtesy of Common

Co-living startup Common has expanded rapidly since launching its first shared home back in 2015: In addition to operating more than a dozen “homes” in New York City, the company has expanded to other major municipalities including Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Seattle, with 27 buildings total in its portfolio.

Many of those buildings are retrofitted townhouses, with a few new builds here and there—including Common Baltic in Boerum Hill, which has both co-living units and market-rate rentals. The company has also expanded into family-friendly co-living with Kin, a collaboration with Tishman Speyer.

But its latest home, located on Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill (and known as Common Grand), was a different experience for the firm. It’s part of the Clinton Hill Historic District, and marks the first time that the company has worked on a home that has landmark protections.

The house itself dates back to 1909, and is one of several on the block that was designed by the architecture firm of Kirby, Petit & Greene, best known as the firm behind Coney Island’s Dreamland amusement park. It’s not quite as opulent as some of the other homes in Clinton Hill; rather, it’s a stately neo-Federal-style house, with a brick and limestone exterior and a front entrance framed by Doric columns.

Sophie Wilkinson, Common’s head of design and construction, said that as soon as she saw that entrance, she was hooked. “We were on the same page about bringing it back to its former glory, rather than being like, How can we pull it down and modernize it,” she says of working with the owner, Stuyvesant Group. “No, we want[ed] to make these original details sing.”

According to Wilkinson, many of the home’s original turn-of-the-century details—including dark millwork and a stunning marble fireplace—were well-preserved, despite the condition of their surroundings. “The original details inside hadn’t been stripped in anyway, though it was so run-down, it was completely unlivable when we got there,” she explains. But some of those didn’t survive: A grand staircase that was removed because of accessibility issues, but some of its spindles were kept in the redesign of the space.

“When we initially saw this building we didn’t have a plan for it, but we knew we had to buy it,” Stuyvesant Group said in a statement. “We’re extremely thankful that we did this deal with Common. It allowed us to fit this building into our current business model and do what we enjoy the most which is restoring and breathing years of life into these properties.”

Elsewhere, the suites shared by residents have a more modern feel, with furnishings from Room & Board, CB2, and Studio McGee. The home can accommodate 23 beds, which are spread out across the home’s five floors (although one of those is dedicated to a common space for all of the building’s residents). There are also several shared spaces—kitchens, living rooms, and the like—that are open to residents, and a roof deck.

Rooms in Common Grand start at $1,600/month, and residents have access to free Wi-Fi, a laundry room, and other perks that aren’t found in traditional rentals.