Living In: Greenwich Village: Once Offbeat, Now Upscale

Living In: Greenwich Village: Once Offbeat, Now Upscale

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He wanted to buy in a prewar building that felt “neighborhoodly,” he said — something that was not too formal but had a full-time doorman, since he is single and travels frequently. He identified four buildings on lower Fifth Avenue, kept an eye on new listings and was “pleasantly surprised” when a one-bedroom in one of them worked out.

Convenience was another draw: With multiple subway lines and plenty of Citi Bike docks, Mr. Mumby, 39, can get wherever he needs to be, and forays to the Whitney and the New Museum are an easy stroll. He also frequents longtime neighborhood joints; Japonica, Bar Pitti and Otto are a few of his favorites.

“I love going to spots where people know you, are glad to see you and know what you like,” he said. “Humans — especially this human — find that having familiarity and rituals in your life is comforting, and the neighborhood lends itself well to that. It’s a wonderful pocket of community.”










Darren Sukenik, an agent with Douglas Elliman, has been selling properties in the Village for 20 years. “Its history is artsy and edgy,” he said. “The people buying here now are not necessarily artsy and edgy, but so much of it is historically protected that no matter who comes in, it can’t change.”

Meris Blumstein, who has lived in a 2,500-square-foot loft on 11th Street since “the days before anyone knew what a loft was,” started work as a receptionist for the Corcoran real estate agency in 1990 and now leads a sales team that includes her husband and their two grown children, Sydney and Cole. “We raised them there, we have lots of parties there, they’d kill us if we sold it,” she said, referring to the loft.

Between the West Village, with its maze of narrow historic streets, and the East Village — an early locus for the down and out, then artists’ haven and punk-rock heaven, now a tidy mecca for young professionals who fill its renovated walk-ups, wine bars and tapas places — is Greenwich Village proper. There are no official boundaries to the Village; outlines have always been argued over, but those who want to claim proximity to the park could use Houston to 14th Street and Seventh Avenue to Lafayette Street (Fourth Avenue) to define their search.

At the heart of the Village, Washington Square Park, recently polished by a $30.6 million restoration, is a perpetual magnet for first-timers to New York and political demonstrators. Residents have its 9.75 acres — with two dog runs, a toddler-friendly playground, a gracious fountain and plentiful benches — mostly to themselves morning to midafternoon. After that, they have to wend through tourists posing in front of Stanford White’s grand arch, skateboarders and street performers, among others.

41 FIFTH AVENUE, NO. 14B A one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op, listed at $1.475 million, with monthly maintenance of $2,518. 212-444-7819

Credit
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

What You’ll Find

The smorgasbord of living spaces includes centuries-old brownstones, well-appointed prewar apartment buildings, high-ceilinged spaces in former factories and, increasingly, pricey luxury dwellings in steel-and-glass buildings. The Greenwich Lane, built where St. Vincent’s Hospital once stood (its closing is still a sore point for many), is nearing completion. A new park with an AIDS memorial, created by the developers as part of the deal, includes a patch of green, a round stone fountain and geometric white sails.

Another blocklong apartment building is rising where the funky Bowlmor stood on University Place.

There’s a caveat emptor here: Because the neighborhood is so old, there is constant infrastructure repair (a water-main project near Washington Square Park isn’t expected to be completed until 2020), and because it is desirable, buildings rise wherever preservationists allow. Be prepared for jackhammers outside your window.

What You’ll Pay

“There is no average price in the Village,” Ms. Blumstein said. The median sales price for a studio in May 2017 was $570,000; a 16,650-square-foot mansion on West 10th Street is currently listed for $59.5 million.

The median sales price for a one-bedroom is about $1.195 million, according to StreetEasy. And the median sales price for all homes in Greenwich Village between May and August was $2.2 million, according to the real estate site Trulia, while the average price per square foot was $2,132.

As for rentals, the median price for a studio, according to StreetEasy, is $2,700 a month.

The Vibe

The Village is eminently walkable, and there may be more culture per square foot in this part of the city than any other. A small sampling: the Public Theater (yes, “Hamilton” started there), but also the Cherry Lane and Barrow Street Theaters; independent movie houses like the Angelika, the IFC Center and the newly reopened Quad; art galleries and bookstores, including the vast Strand. The Bottom Line is long gone, but the Blue Note and the Village Vanguard still host top jazz performers.

New York University, the neighborhood behemoth, is building up and out, to the chagrin of many living in its shadow. It also casts an aura of academe: rivers of students ebb and flow; a quiet mews is closed to all but foot traffic; North Square, the restaurant of a tweedy hotel catering to visiting professors, has the feel of a faculty club canteen, a low-key alternative to the glitzier Babbo and Waverly Inn.

Fancy restaurants have proliferated with the higher real estate prices, but many residents, even famous ones, hang out at lower-key places. The Knickerbocker Bar and Grill is one: A neighborhood bastion for 40 years, it has Al Hirschfeld caricatures on the walls and deep red-leather booths, makes a good steak and decorates like crazy for holidays. Those who cook frequent the bountiful Union Square Greenmarket, as well as Agata & Valentina and Citarella, both of which have serious meat, cheese and fish counters.

The Schools

P.S. 41, the public elementary school at Sixth Avenue and West 11th Street, has 721 students from prekindergarten to fifth grade. In 2016, 84 percent of students met state standards on both English and math tests, compared with 39 and 40 percent for the city. A new public middle school, M.S. 297, is currently operating in temporary quarters and plans to move to 75 Morton Street in the fall of 2018. There are a number of private schools, including Grace Church School and Little Red Schoolhouse.

The Commute

With the N and R and the 4, 5 and 6 to the east, and the A, C and E and 1, 2 and 3 to the west, residents have a lot of underground options. Citi Bikes are also easy to find.

The History

John Strausbaugh began his 2013 history, “The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues,” at the time when European settlers first arrived in New York and former slaves were granted land to farm. “The Dutch were not acting out of altruism or good fellowship,” he wrote. “Spread across the island, the black farms were intended to act as a defensive barrier and buffer zone between the town and the Lenape, the area’s native population, who had been roused to fury by Willem Kieft, New Netherland’s director general from 1638 to 1647. Hard-headed, tyrannical and bloody-minded, Kieft had angered the natives by trying to levy taxes against them.” Thus the stage was set for centuries of fractious struggles over property and ideals.

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