luxury real estate

The Merely Wealthy Can No Longer Afford West 11th Street

Photo: Google Maps

For some time, the stretch of West 11th Street between 4th and Bleecker in Greenwich Village has been a magnet for the superrich. Homes on the “power block” — where Sarah Jessica Parker, Liv Tyler, Rupert Murdoch, and assorted billionaires have owned townhouses — sell for upwards of $30 million. But until recently, it still had a smattering of rental buildings for the merely wealthy: junior bankers and lesser trust funders whose budget hewed closer to $10,000 a month for a two-bedroom. With the recent sales of two multifamily properties, that will soon change.

Back in the early aughts, houses on the block traded for less than $5 million. Things started to shift in the early 2010s. Global wealth was pouring into Manhattan real estate, and people began buying up townhouses to renovate into massive Frankenhouses. Several chose this length of West 11th — pretty, conveniently located, strewn with extra-wide townhouses, and out of the way of Carrie Bradshaw’s tourist trap of a brownstone one block over — for their gigantic new homes. In 2014 and 2015, Chipotle founder Steve Ells bought two townhouses on the corner of West 4th and combined them into a 16,000-square foot complex. In 2016, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick paid $34.5 million for two adjoining townhouses mid-block that had belonged to a Methodist nonprofit since the 1920s. The next year, Softbank CEO Marcelo Claure dropped $27.4 million on a 8,500-square-foot “mansion in the making” at 269 West 11th — a three-family home sold with plans by Annabelle Selldorf to turn it into a 10,000-square-foot single-family mansion.

In recent years, a number of longtime owners have cashed out. In 2019, Tyler sold her house at 255 West 11th (which she had previously converted from a multifamily) to Eater and Resy co-founder Ben Leventhal for $17.45 million; she’d paid $2.53 million in 2001. Last winter, Vicki Been, of NYU’s Furman Center of Real Estate and Urban Policy, sold her townhouse (purchased for $1.88 million in 2002) for $18.8 million.

The two properties that sold last week were both configured as multi-units. 271 West 11th Street, an 8,000-square-foot townhouse with 11 apartments, sold for $26.75 million to logistics billionaire Brad Jacobs. And the five-unit rental at 276 West 11th Street sold for $15.9 million. Listing broker Velvet Abashian, of Avian Village Realty, said she believed the new owners planned to convert the 25-foot-wide townhouse into a single-family home. There are still a few co-ops on the block, and Abashian said she thought a neighboring townhouse might still be a rental, but “most of the houses have now been snatched up.”

And anything that hasn’t been snatched up will likely sell for a lot — especially the newly renovated megamansions on the block. “There are unique double-, triple- wide homes in that area,” says Tal Alexander, co-founder of the luxury brokerage Official. “If they ever were to sell, it would be in the $100 million-plus price point.” Even the celebrities may soon be priced out.

The Merely Wealthy Can No Longer Afford West 11th Street