By Karen Rempel
160 Leroy Street is a new neighbor in the West Village, and as with all new neighbors, we might view it with a hint of suspicious distrust and even fear what this change might bring. Will it obscure the light, block our views, and destroy the character of the neighborhood we love? As our beloved WestView Publisher, George Capsis, said to me in a Bukowski-esque email, “Like a giant rapacious maw, the asparagus-shaped teeth of surrounding condos want to eat the old Village.” But new neighbors can also bring a freshness and excitement—a new spice that enhances the flavor of the stalwart stew. The buildings that are going up now are creating New York’s history of this century, and 160 Leroy will be one of the stars of our era.
As neighbors go, 160 Leroy is more like a Sophia Loren than a Ralph Kramden, with the two private-elevatored penthouses selling this year for $51 million (7,750 square feet, with a rooftop pool) and $31.5 million (4,849 square feet, with a rooftop oasis), and a modest 9th floor one-bedroom (1,096 square feet, with double exposures) listed at $3.2 million.
Some of our fears are true. 160 Leroy does block the river view of its neighbor across the street—the four-story building at 532 Washington Street. But tall buildings are part of the visual fabric of the Village, with numerous prewar buildings matching or exceeding 160 Leroy’s 15 stories. For example: 24 Fifth Avenue, built in 1926 (21 stories); 136 Waverly Place, dated 1929 (16 stories); and 2 Horatio Street, built in 1931 (17 stories). 160 Leroy is not even the richest kid in the Village. The Gold Coast’s highest priced mega-mansion, at 11-13 West 10th Street—Warren Spector’s double brownstone, built in 1847 and 1919, listed at $59.9 million—is truly the Greta Garbo of the neighborhood.
Guy Thornton, a British architect serving as a design consultant for 160 Leroy, and liaising among the architects, the general contractor, and the owners, describes its impact on the neighborhood. “Instead of thinking of the building as a building, think about it as a piece of sculpture, a work of art, something which makes a tremendous contribution. It benefits the neighborhood. Instead of…a rectangular building on the corner of the site, you’ve got this beautiful form that reflects the light of the river. It’s unique, which is not a bad thing. It has created a landmark for the neighborhood.”
The interiors are beautiful as well with exquisite details, beginning with oil-rubbed, Scandinavian larch 12-inch plank flooring, Bulthaup-designed dual social and chef kitchens in many units, Sivec marble and natural stone, gorgeous expansive triple-glazed glass walls, as well as art walls, and unique VOLA brushed-copper fixtures in the powder rooms.
The building is scheduled for completion in 2018 and soon our new neighbors will move in. 160 Leroy’s design is radically different from the masculine monoliths that have been erected along the West Village waterfront this century. I think we’ll welcome having a glamorous feminine movie star making history on the block.