The Cast-Iron Historic District in New York’s SoHo comprises about 250 buildings that remain from the heydays of cast iron construction in the late 19th century. Industrialization in lower Manhattan after the Civil War meant that factories, mills, and warehouses started moving into the area, which in turn meant that larger structures needed to be built to accommodate machinery and storage.
Not only was the amount of stone needed to build large structures expensive to dig up and drag into Manhattan, cast iron was an ideal material for these large new buildings because its strength allowed for building supports to span greater widths and take up less floor space. The buildings were initially thought to be less flammable than a wooden structure. Alas, the wooden parts of cast iron buildings, floor joists and girders are indeed flammable. And despite being designed to withstand fires, they did not. Therefore, the days of building with cast iron were short.
By the middle of the 20th century, the once bustling neighborhood had seen much better days. Drawn to the huge windows, open spaces and cheap rents, many of the factory buildings were converted to art studios and funky, quasi-legal living spaces. Then, in the 1970s, the New York Landmarks Board researched the area and saw fit to landmark SoHo’s remaining cast iron buildings, saving them from demolition. Commerce soon followed and today SoHo is one of New York’s most popular shopping and dining districts for locals and tourists alike.
Of course, that also means SoHo is prime, expensive real estate and classic old lofts are highly sought after and thus, impressingly expensive. To wit: a sprawling 3,400-square-foot penthouse loft atop a five-story cast-iron structure that was built for an importer-exporter in 1873 at the corner of Greene and Grand Streets. Capped by a private roof deck and owned by a visual artist and her financier husband, the updated Old-School spread has just come onto the market asking $10 million. The spacious, six-room co-op includes three bedrooms and two baths; the roof deck adds another 1,800 square feet of outdoor space. Listing agents are Ryan Serhant and Donna Strugatz at SERHANT.
With just ten units in the five story building, the handsome and well-maintained boutique building offers plenty of privacy, even if it doesn’t sport the breathtaking amenities newer buildings often do. On the other hand, new buildings don’t offer the industrial charm boasted by this apartment, with its funky old jumble of exposed pipes, weathered cast-iron columns, and 13.5-foot-high ceilings covered in stamped tin tiles. Renovations done by the couple added modern design and luxury to the artsy-industrial mix.
There are two living rooms, one beneath a huge skylight and the other an 800-square-foot space flooded with light through five over-sized sash windows. (In all there area 13 windows in the unit.) Perfect for entertaining, the vast great room is anchored by an unusual wood-burning fireplace from Bodart & Gonay, set behind a slab of unpolished granite. Between the two living rooms is a walk-in bar area, while the open-plan kitchen’s collection of professional-grade appliances, include a 48” Subzero, a 60” BlueStar range, a Gaggenau steam oven, and a Bosch dishwasher. Other nice features: a laundry room furnished with high-end machines and a Nest controlled multi-zone air conditioning system.
Each of the bedrooms is located in a separate corner of the loft. The primary suite is a secluded peaceful retreat featuring a wall of windows, a walk-in closet (topped by a storage loft), and an en-suite spa bathroom with an infrared sauna. The larger secondary bedroom features modular Vitsoe shelves designed by Dieter Rams, another spacious walk-in closet and an en-suite bathroom, while the third bedroom is a tiny room nipped behind the kitchen that features a cozy sleeping area below a stand-up mezzanine.
While there are plenty of large lofts in SoHo that will accommodate both working artists and their families, few offer a private roof terrace with sweeping views to the south, east and west. Perfect for relaxed lounging, entertaining, and al fresco dining, there’s a new outdoor kitchen with a Traeger grill and a chandelier-lit 200 square-foot pergola. Solar panels, wi-fi accessibility, an irrigation system, a shed for storage, and extensive plantings around its perimeter add to the terrace’s attractions.
A locked storage room in the building’s basement can easily fit bikes, an extra fridge and a wine cooler. And of course, the location is unbeatable, just steps to a plethora of world-class restaurants and a laundry list of name brand retailers and designer boutiques.