NINE-APARTMENT BUILDING ON WEST END WILL BECOME SINGLE-FAMILY MANSION

347 West End Avenue
347 West End Avenue is on the left. Image from presentation by architect Matthew Bremmer.

The owner of a townhouse on West End Avenue between 76th and 77th Street is converting it back into a single-family mansion from a nine-unit apartment building, and plans some renovations to expand it more.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved modifications to the structure, which as built in 1891 and sits in an historic district, according to NY YIMBY.

“A set back fifth floor will be built, with an elevator overrun, roof bulkhead, and copper and glass skylight atop it. The current three-story-tall projecting rear yard addition will be demolished and replaced with a four-story-tall rear yard addition. A Juliette balcony, clad in copper, will jut out just into the canopy of a 130- to 140-year-old cherry tree.”

The roof height will be increased to match the height of the twin building next door. It was originally used by one family, but later converted into a multi-family. One-bedrooms rented for about $2,000-$2,500, while a two-bedroom went for $3,400 as of a couple of years ago.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 37 comments | permalink
    1. Frank says:

      I really hope that they change the front windows to be more appropriate to the original look. The vertical middle bar and white trim look completely wrong to me. And, of course, I worry about the look of the new roof from the street.

      • Nathan says:

        It’s the one on the left. The white trim is on the right townhouse.

      • Cato says:

        Doesn’t really sound like the new owner gives a rat’s tuches for how the building looked originally. Elevator? Four-story “addition” (read: new building attached)?

        Besides, nine families have been displaced to make way for some hedgy’s ego-trip mansion and you’re worried about the color of the window trim?

        Welcome to the new Upper Wealth Side!

        • Nathan says:

          The elevator is on the inside and the addition is in the back where it’s not visible. The front will likely be restored.

          One does not buy a townhouse to wreck the exterior. The whole point of buying a townhouse is the historic charm. Plus, it would be illegal.

          • dannyboy says:

            “the addition is in the back where it’s not visible.” – Nathan

            But Nathan the back of his house faces others.

        • eric says:

          “upper wealth side” – nice one!

        • EricaC says:

          I recognize that your real complaint may be that there shouldn’t be people with that much wealth at all, or that they shouldn’t be allowed to have big houses even if they do – but if there are, would it be better for them to decamp to Westchester or the like? Or is it better to stay in the city and pay taxes? I always thought that it was more responsible to stay in the city and pay taxes, and I have, but I do like having room (not as much as this house, though I wouldn’t object if I could afford it). If I buy a big apartment – but pay a lot of taxes – is that worse than moving to Westchester and living in splendid isolation?

          This is a genuine question. I’d be interested in thoughts of others.

          • B.B. says:

            You don’t hear much about it in the media, but conversions of brownstones/mansions/townhouses back into private residences is big and helping to deplete the supply of RS and RC “affordable” housing.

            On the one hand you cannot see much fault with this as the places were originally built as private homes. Yes, tenants can often be displaced and or rental housing units removed from supply. But often these properties are renovated/restored which brings up their value. That in turn increases their revenue via property taxes.

            In any even the reverse of “white flight” has meant people are choosing to make the new safer and cleaner NYC/Manhattan their home. They want/need family sized housing and in many instances a brownstone offers far more space and works out to cost less than a co-op or condo.

            Neil Patrick Harris paid just four million for his East Harlem brownstone. You’d be hard pressed to find an apartment in Manhattan that matches total square footage for the same amount of money.

        • B.B. says:

          Elevators were actually not unheard of for brownstones/mansions/townhouses even back in the day when they were built or added afterwards.

          In the days before chair lifts you still had elderly and or disabled persons whom couldn’t navigate several flights of stairs between the ground floor and say the bedrooms. More so wearing corsets and long skirts…..

          On a more practical note brownstone living could involve a constant battle of how to get hot food from the kitchens (located in the cellars) to the upper floors. Dining room was one thing but if you had someone wanting or needing to have their meals in their bedrooms.

        • Rat A. Tooey says:

          Dear Mr. Cato (and me and me bruvvers sure hope “Cat-O” isn’t some code for a creature of the FELINE persuasion!!)

          Re: “gives a rat’s tuches”

          We (us rodent-types, that is) prefer “tushy” or, if you must, “tuchas”.

          However, “Rat-Butt” is also acceptable, and some of the more outgoing lady-rats (I go out wit’ some of dem) actually prefer “Rat-booty”!

          Hoping you stand (or sit) corrected,

          Yours rodently,
          Rat A. Tooey

    2. JIMBO G says:

      COOL!!!!!It must be nice to have a FEW bucks.

    3. JDP says:

      So… probably not rent-controlled, eh?

    4. Sherman says:

      If a two bedroom goes for $3,400 in this building it’s most likely rent controlled or stabilized. I wonder how they got the tenants out. They were very generously paid to leave.

      • Nathan says:

        That sounds market-rate to me. Brownstone apartments are a bit cheaper as they have no amenities like a doorman, and the units are often pretty dated. They’re not going to be priced like a modern luxury building.

        FWIW, I paid ~$2,400 for a market rate two bedroom before I bought a place. It was a *very* dated apartment, hence the low price.

      • Sarah says:

        Yes, these West End converted brownstones tend to have been done in the late 70s or early 80s and I think many haven’t been much updated since. The rent tends to run a little lower, reflecting that.

      • Happy Ex-UWS says:

        Fact: Not rent controlled. How do I know, I lived there and the former owner was the best landlord I ever had. Without getting into details, they handled the transition very well and I had no complaints (and no I wasn’t paid off to leave).
        The plans for the renovation look great and will bring this property back to it’s historic grace. People should be happy someone is making an investment in the neighborhood and will improve the aesthetic of this historic block. If only some of the other properties on the block were fixed up as well…
        As for me, I am about as physically far from the UWS as humanly possible and couldn’t be happier (except for the lack of a decent bagel and slice of pizza).

        • dannyboy says:

          “As for me, I am about as physically far from the UWS as humanly possible and couldn’t be happier” Ex-UWS

          For an Ex-UWS you sure offer a strong opinion on how “People should be happy”.

          I think you may have overstepped a bit.

    5. joe says:

      While we lose some housing, I am happy to see these beautiful buildings get restored to their original grandeur. Happy to see someone with $$$ using it for this as opposed to some glass and steel tower that ruins the neighborhood.. On that note, I am dying to see what the owner of the mansion on Riverside and 107th (the Turkish magnate mansion) did in its restoration.

    6. SV says:

      I guess it is appropriate since we are back to the era of the robber barons. Only now the government doesn’t care.

      • dannyboy says:

        Bingo!

        But the government DOES care. How else are they going to get “Extra Compensation”?

    7. drg says:

      two points:

      for those interested, the following site has a great historical discussion on these 2 building:
      http://daytoninmanhattan.blogspot.com/2015/09/lamb-richs-nos-347-349-west-end-avenue.html

      the other point is about the comment:”Four-story “addition” (read: new building attached)?

      almost ALL UWS brownstones ALREADY have a small addition in the backyard, usually half the building length and extending up 2 or 3 stories (with a small terrace on top). These were either original, or added in the early 20th century. Looking at the floor plan here shows a preexisting 11 x 12 foot square addition, on 3 floors, containing either a kitchen or small bedroom, with a terrace on top. The neighboring building is identical, altho mirror image.

      Presumably the new owners will enclose the terrace, hence the 4th floor. This is totally in keeping with similar appearances of adjoining buildings. Interestingly since this is a WEA brownstone and not a cross street, it doesnt look like there is any backyard to speak of.

      • J says:

        Thanks for the great link, drg.
        Fascinating!

        I like the A-B-C-D-D-C-B-A design idea.

        And it’s surprising to me that one of these two buildings sold for $43,500 in 1901. That was a lot of dough back then! I bet these townhouses wouldn’t have fetched much more than that in 1975.

      • dannyboy says:

        How’s about those nouveau Penthouses topping the apartment buildings!

        Baby, baby, baby!

    8. Kenneth says:

      They own it.
      It’s now their property.
      It has no tenants. They can do what the want with it as long as LPC and NYC DOB approve. It’s called private ownership.

      • Geo says:

        Thanks Kenneth. Since when does everyone get a say on what a pivate owner does in or outside of his / her own home? MYOB he owns it, not you!

        • B.B. says:

          Well that depends upon who the tenants are if any, and what sort of housing that brownstone/townhouse provided.

          If there are RS tenants present then owner cannot “do what he likes” and yes, people (well NYS and NYC government) do have a say what is done with the property.

          If the building once was an SRO a certificate of non-harassment must be obtained before the owner can do any work returning it back to a private home.

          For the record an UWS brownstone owner/LL tried to get rid of his tenants by legally challenging RS laws; he lost.

          https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120423/upper-west-side/supreme-court-rejects-rent-regulation-case

        • dannyboy says:

          We are entitled to our opinions, this being the good old USA!

          or is that over too?

    9. Paul RL says:

      Awesome – I love the idea of these townhouses reverting back to their original grandeur. Maybe I can finally wear my top hat without being ridiculed anymore!

    10. Phoebe says:

      To Paul RL: Hahahahahahahahahaa????????

    11. Jim says:

      This townhouse hardly qualifies as a mansion

    12. zeus says:

      Revolution # 9.
      9 out.
      1 in.
      The uppers win again.

    13. Sandy says:

      As confirmed by the former tenant, these
      were not rent-stabilized, so the UWS is not
      losing “affordable” housing. At two
      apartments per floor (as usual with these
      townhouses) the people who left were not
      families, but couples or single individuals.
      This type of brownstone housing typically
      consists of “charming”, small apartments,
      usually studios or tiny one-bedrooms.
      There tends to be high turnover, when
      the tenants find they can get something
      bigger, for less, in a less posh area,
      or when they make enough money for
      something bigger. With the high
      turnover, the apartments typically
      reach the rent price that enables the
      landlord to apply for de-stabilization.
      The apartment building I live in
      has only five stablized apartments
      left, out of 30. As tenants moved
      out, the landlord “renovated” the
      empty apartments into “new” units
      at market-rate prices – usually
      three to five times what the prior
      stablized tenant had been paying.
      The new apartments seem to turnover
      about every four years, usually
      when a couple has a new/another
      baby and finds they need more
      space for less money – and move
      uptown or out to the boroughs.
      The UWS was only really
      affordable when it was a much
      more mixed neighborhood. I
      moved in at at time when you
      needed to know which blocks
      were safe to walk on and which
      weren’t.
      It’s called gentrification
      for a reason, it’s only good
      for the gentry. Oh, and for
      those who like to think of
      themselves as upper class.

      te