Skip to content
The New Yorker

Here’s a way around the city’s increasingly impossible real-estate market: build your own house. Granted, it’s the road less travelled—if indeed it’s travelled at all. (In the last thirteen years, according to Buildings Department records, only one new single-family house has been built in the West Village.) Last month, however, construction began on a town house at 829 Greenwich Street—a small patch of land that sits on the dividing line between the West Village and the meatpacking district.

The owners of the property are a young English couple with two small children who moved to New York in the spring of 2001. “We looked at brownstones in the West Village,” the wife said recently. “But we didn’t have the budget to buy a four-million-dollar house.” Two years ago, on the evening of her birthday, she and her husband walked out of Pastis and passed a decrepit, partially collapsed Federal-style town house. The windows were mortared up, and the brick façade, which was slathered with stucco, bulged out as if at any minute the whole house would fall in on itself. A sign said that it was for sale. “I just knew,” she recalled. “I looked at my husband and said, ‘This is it.’ ”

Published in the print edition of the January 19, 2004, issue.