Features, Historic Homes, Quirky Homes

Third floor loft at Beethoven Hall on East 5th Street. Photo courtesy of Sothebys/Nikki Field.

It isn’t unusual to see old warehouses, churches and banks converted into luxury multi-unit condos and apartments. But far more rare, and often shrouded in myth and mystery, are one-of-a-kind buildings that had former lives as banks, schools, a synagogue, a public bath house, a Con Ed substation, even a public restroom and a hillside cave–and have more recently served as home and workspace for a lucky handful of bohemian dreamers (and hard-working homeowners).

Find out who lives behind the gates of those those cavernous, mysterious buildings

Green Design, Greenpoint, Landscape Architecture

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21 Commercial Street, Brooklyn, NY, United States

Renderings for the waterfront park to be built alongside the massive housing development Greenpoint Landing have been released. Flooding from Hurricane Sandy ravaged the area only a few years back, so it comes as no surprise that the local community was concerned with how the developers were going to address the possibility of damaging storm swells in the future. Despite their concerns the park’s designer James Corner Field Operations has used intelligent design and beautiful landscaping to enhance the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of the existing riverfront.

Read more


Brooklyn, real estate trends

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Brooklyn, NY, United States

In the face of financial pressures, dozens of churches across Brooklyn are looking sell of their holy land in hopes of banking on the conversion trend that’s taken the city by storm. According to DNA Info, more than 50 Brooklyn clergy members are looking to develop their land and air rights to offer more affordable housing and other community services.

Hundreds of religious leaders attended a recent meeting hosted by Borough President Eric Adams detailing how they could raise money as their shrinking congregations give way to fundraising and budgetary constraints.

“You are land-rich but cash-poor. The largest amount of housing potential in Brooklyn lies with you,” Reverend Gilford Monrose, director of the Borough President’s faith-based initiatives, said at the event.

Find out more


Real Estate Wire

  • Forest City Enterprises is putting its 55% stake in Barclays up for sale. [Brooklyn Eagle]
  • The Department of City Planning certified a five-block rezoning application today for a stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue near Grand Central Terminal that includes SL Green’s One Vanderbilt tower. [CO]
  • Mayor Bill de Blasio has rejected JPMorgan Chase’s request for $1B in tax incentives to keep its headquarters in New York. However, he hasn’t ruled out offering some tax breaks. [Crain's]
  • Thor Equities has purchased two Williamsburg properties for approximately $17.8 million and is planning to turn the site into a 10,000-square-foot retail development. [CO]

Images: Barclay’s (left); One Vanderbilt (right)

Design, Products

Life can sometimes be hectic, and when you live in a city that never sleeps it can be exhausting. This is why we are head-over-heels excited about the Ostrich Pillow Mini, a new personal power nap pillow from Studio Banana by Kawamura Ganjavian. Weather you’re on the subway or in a cubicle, this little bundle of joy was designed to be taken on the go, arming you for any mid-day napping location.

More on the design here

Architecture, Green Design, Upstate

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Catskill Mountains, United States

Former advertising copywriter and self-taught designer Tom Givone took on the difficult job of resuscitating a 200-year-old homestead nestled on the edge of the Catskill Mountains. The stunning Floating Farmhouse is the result of four years of experimentation with materials, a great location, and Givone’s magnificent taste and historically sensitive restoration. A perfect mix between the old and the very new, this stunning glazed home features a cantilevered porch that makes the farmhouse ‘float’ and reflect itself on the tranquil waters of a creek.

Learn more about this stunning floating home


Architecture, Brooklyn, Green Design, Park Slope

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Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, United States

When this Park Slope brownstone was first built in 1899 we’re pretty sure energy efficient design wasn’t a guiding factor in its construction. But over 100 years later an award-winning Passive House retrofit by FABRICA 718 has turned this classic residence into one that consumes approximately 90% less heat energy than the average home and 75% less energy overall.

See what consuming 90% less heat energy looks like


Daily Link Fix

  • “If you see something, do something” takes on a new meaning. The city is launching a subway ad campaign encouraging New Yorkers to do more volunteer work, according to the Daily News.
  • Scouting New York maps out locations of famous NYC sitcoms.
  • In the 19th century, the city had a system of bells to alert officials of fires. Christopher Gray dives into the history in his Streetscapes column in the Times.
  • Business Insider takes a tour of the Gowanus office of the startup Farmigo, and it looks like a giant jungle gym for adults.
  • Hmmm…apparently there’s some scientific reasoning behind why we can’t ever seem to get a cab when it’s pouring out. More on CityLab.

Images: Volunteer ad, via NYC Service (L); Hailing a taxi in the rain via FLYJughead via photopin cc


Following Superstorm Sandy, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) updated its flood-zone maps for the first time since 1983, more than doubling the included buildings to 70,000. Therefore, many more property owners are facing the decision of whether to stormproof their homes or pay up for insurance premiums that would go up as much as 18%. But going with the former choice is not as easy as one may think.

FEMA guidelines don’t take into account the unique makeup of New York City with its rowhouses and high-rises, so to comply with the current regulations it would cost the city more than $5 billion, according to studies produces by Crain’s. Those who would be absorbing the costs include middle-class homeowners; NYCHA, which owns more than 25% of rental units in the flood zone ;and owners of large apartment towers, which account for 61% of the 5.5 million properties in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. All of these entities must follow the same guidelines as the plan is laid out now, but the city and a group of nonprofits are asking the agency to make changes to the insurance program.

More about the issue ahead

Cool Listings, Interiors, Upper East Side

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781 5th Ave, NY, United States

An influx of new property in Manhattan has made Liberty Travel founder Gilbert Haroche reconsider the hefty $95 million price tag for his 15-room co-op at the Sherry Netherland. Haroche had a similar change of heart a year ago, when he lowered the price to $88 million, however he quickly returned to his astronomical initial asking. Now, after sitting on the market for an entire two years, the sprawling simplex is available for a slightly less jaw-dropping $85 million.

Take a look inside, here


Bed Stuy, Cool Listings, Historic Homes, Interiors

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247 Hancock Street, Brooklyn, NY, United States

Bed-Stuy‘s most expensive single-family home has a set of new photos that gives us a closer look into the work that’s been put into bringing this storied home back to life. Designed by Montrose Morris and modeled after a Gilded Age Vanderbilt mansion along Fifth Avenue, this spectacular house known as ‘The Kelley Mansion’ was built for water meter magnate John Kelley in 1900. The mansion was a favorite hangout of Kelley’s pal President Grover Cleveland and has for the better part of its existence been affectionately referred to as the ‘Grand Dame’ of Hancock Street. The home fell into disrepair over the decades, but savior Claudia Moran, a retired ad exec, dedicated a great deal of her time and money restoring the mansion after buying it up for just $7,500 in the 1980s. It’s now selling for $6 million.

Take a look inside the incredible mansion


Weekly Highlights

Weekly Highlights: Top Picks from the 6sqft Staff

By Dana Schulz, Sat, October 18, 2014

Images: Superdesk via Clive Wilkinson and the Barbarian Group (L); Bed Stuy via rutlo cc

East Village, Features, History

Peeking into the East Village’s Marble Cemeteries

By Dana Schulz, Fri, October 17, 2014

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East Village, New York, NY, United States

Today we think of cemeteries as spooky, haunted places that we avoid, or as sad, depressing spots reserved for funerals. But they were once quite the opposite–in fact, they were the earliest incarnations of public parks. In New York City, burials took place on private or church property up until the mid-1800′s when commercial cemeteries began popping up. And in the East Village there are two such early burial grounds hidden among the townhouses and tenements–the New York Marble Cemetery (on the west side of Second Avenue just above Second Street) and the New York City Marble Cemetery (on the north side of Second Street between First and Second Avenues).

Though their titles are extremely similar and they’re located less than a block apart, the two cemeteries are operated separately and have their own unique history. And during openhousenewyork weekend, we were lucky enough to take a peek beyond the cast iron gates and into these important pieces of the East Village’s past.

Explore the Marble Cemeteries


Chelsea, New Yorker Spotlight, People, Upper West Side 

Long before Christine Chen was an Upper West Sider, she was living in Great Falls, Montana. A year out of U.C. Berkeley, she landed her first gig in broadcast journalism—a job that transplanted her from her native Bay Area to a small town in Big Sky Country. For Christine, it was the beginning of a very impressive career that included anchoring at KCPQ, the Fox affiliate in Seattle, and hosting About the Money on KCTS, the PBS station in Seattle. Along the way, she won two Emmys for her work as both a reporter and an anchor.

After dealing with severe back pain, Christine knew her body needed a change. Looking for relief, she sought out yoga, which quickly evolved beyond exercise into both a lifestyle and career change. Today, New Yorkers in Chelsea, the Upper West Side, and Westchester have the chance to learn and take classes with Christine.

We recently spoke with Christine to find out how New Yorkers engage with yoga, and what they can look to forward reading next March.

Our interview with Christine Chen

Real Estate Wire

  • Is your apartment greenhouse illegal? Some New Yorkers are turning their greenhouses into extended indoor living spaces. [NYT]
  • Elle Macpherson sells her pied-à-terre at East 68th Street for $2.4 million. [WSJ]
  • More developments are coming to Renwick Street in northern Tribeca and people are loving it. [WSJ]
  • Durst Organization is officially the new builder of Hallets Point, Queens. [TRD]
  • 384 Park Avenue could fetch more than $200M, nearly double what Billy Macklowe paid for it back in 2012. [TRD]

Images: New York Times illustration by Brett Affrunti (L); Elle Macpherson’s apartment by Bartomeu Amengual for Wall Street Journal (R)

Design, Products

One thing we don’t see much of here in New York City are starry nights. Unfortunately, this leaves some city-dwellers nostalgic for their star-gazing, universe-pondering suburban youth. While it’s unlikely that any skyscrapers will be moving to make room for a better view, Starry Light, a constellation lamp collection from Anagraphic, is a star-studded substitute worthy of praise.

More on Starry Light here

Architecture, Design, Flushing, Queens

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Flushing, Queens, NY, United States

When O’Neill Rose Architects was hired to build a family home in Flushing, Queens there was one small challenge–to “design three homes under one roof, in a neighborhood of Queens which is defined by single family homes.” The resulting Choy House is made of three disparate dwellings, connected and overlapping to reflect the relationships of the extended family–a husband (the client), wife, and two small children; the husband’s younger brother and his wife; and the brothers’ mother.

Details of the project ahead


Celebrities, Recent Sales, Upper West Side 

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15 Central Park West, New York, NY, United States

Sultan III bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, a member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and current ruler of the Sharjah emirate, has just purchased an apartment at 15 Central Park West with his daughter Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, the 34th Most Powerful Arab Women as noted by Forbes. According to city records, the family scooped up a pristine three-bedroom unit at the famed residence designed by Robert A.M. Stern for $14.25 million.

The 2,915-square-foot home offers up a generously sized gallery a corner living room with three large windows framing Central Park, and a sizable south facing dining room with beautiful custom built-ins. A windowed, eat-in kitchen and grand marble bathtub are just a few of the other gems inside.

The home was first listed earlier this year for $16.95 million before being taken off the market a month later. The unit was again re-listed in April for $15.25 million and was reduced to $14.75 million three months later. The family scooped the home up at a $500,000 discount. Bodour Al Qasimi and the Sultan will join a plethora of socialites and celebs in the building including Robert Deniro who just moved into a $125,000/month rental.

[At CityRealty]


Chelsea, Cool Listings, Interiors, Manhattan

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442 West 23rd Street, New York, NY, United States

The minute you walk into this gorgeously renovated three-bedroom apartment at 442 West 23rd Street in Chelsea you are greeted with the most unexpected of views: a breathtaking bi-level garden. Beautifully framed by a two-story Portella-designed architectural steel door and window combination, the 1,000-plus square feet of landscaped perfection is the focal point of this exquisite home.

See why this apartment will take your breath away


Daily Link Fix

  • Edible Schoolyard NYC’s new garden at P.S./M.S. 7 in East Harlem includes colorful planters in a variety of shapes, as well as a teaching space and indoor kitchen. See all the photos and plans on Field Condition.
  • And the architects of P.S./M.S. 7′s garden, WORKac, are interviewed today on designboom.
  • Untapped Cities has 12 crazy facts about the Upper West Side’s iconic Ansonia. Did you know this is where the 1919 World Series was rigged?
  • Stephen Von Worley’s new data visualization project colors urban streets based on their cardinal direction. Check it out on Co.Design.
  • Haunted hipsters…the Bowery Boys share four ghost stories of Brooklyn.

Images: Edible Schoolyard NYC’s garden at P.S./M.S. 7 via WORKac (L); The Ansonia via Jeffrey via photopin cc (R)


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