Though some like to romanticize the gritty old days, New York’s East Village was in fact a horror show in the late 1970s. Block after block of burned-out buildings were no-go areas for anyone who wasn’t a pusher or a junkie. Many of the neighborhood’s tenement buildings were boarded up, with ripped out floors and flooded rooms. Some had no running water. But as the 1980s began, the area began to subtly gentrify and art galleries that found also-gentrifying SoHo too expensive headed east. One of the first to open its doors in the East Village was Fun Gallery, founded in 1981, which sold works by graffiti artists.
As the galleries moved in, so did the artists. In the early 1980s, a former abandoned synagogue was purchased by a group of artists who transformed the building into loft spaces where they could live cheaply and work with lots of open space. Along with artist Jack Sal and photographer/documentary filmmaker Timothy Greenfield Sanders, one of the original owners was artist and photographer William Wegman. Wildly famous for his photos featuring his Weimaraner dogs, Wegman also shot the cover of the B-52s 1983 “Whammy” album while living in the building.
One of the units, the last remaining original offering, has been owned by former model turned interior designer Maria Von Hartz for more than 40 years. Transformed from a grotty space into a comfortable flat, the loft, which offers a rare, tenants-in-common legal status, is available at $2.5 million via Kristi Ambrosetti of Sotheby’s International Realty. Tenancy-in-common, while requiring a cash-only purchase, is a legal status with more flexible building rules that allow it possible future condo conversion.
The loft, with two bedrooms and two baths in about 1,900 square feet, has been recently gut renovated to preserve pre-war character. Original details such as tin ceilings, moldings and stained-glass windows are details not to be found in newer buildings. There is a large eat-in kitchen with three large windows and room for a full dining table and plenty of storage. In addition to a massive skylight over the living room, there are ten windows with three exposures. The living and dining areas are open to each other, while the update kitchen is roomy enough to have a dining table floating in the center of the room. The primary bedroom is spacious with a large walk-in closet befitting a former model, while an office nook emblazoned with floral wallpaper is located just off the secondary bedroom and is great for working from home. The larger bathroom features a double vanity, patterned porcelain floors and a large shower, while the smaller one has a crisp and classic white-tiled design.
The location of the bathrooms, right off the foyer and not especially close to the bedrooms, is less than ideal but the in-unit washer/dryer and split-system air conditioning are nice to have. And at less than $2,000 a month, maintenance fees are relatively low for New York in 2023.