When a property starts out as three Manhattan apartments over two floors, it takes a fresh perspective to truly realize its full potential. We invited architect Kate Wiberg Fixmer to reimagine these spaces at 140 Charles Street in the West Village as a carefully considered family residence with amazing 360-degree views of the city. Kate spoke with Luxury Defined about her vision for this grandest of designs, captured in this video.
Tell us a bit about the property and its location…
Currently it is three units in the Memphis Downtown, a 22-story luxury condominium built in 1987 at 140 Charles Street in the heart of the West Village. It’s a full-floor unit 19 stories up with 360-degree views, and two one-bedroom apartments on the floor directly below. One of the tallest in the area, the building has a 24-hour concierge, a parking garage with direct elevator access, and a keyed private elevator to the 19th floor. The coveted West Village neighborhood has shops to satisfy every taste, along with some of the best restaurants in New York City. It’s also near the Whitney Museum of American Art, Hudson River Park, the High Line, and the West Chelsea arts district.
This property provides an exceptional opportunity. This much square footage in the West Village is rare. Just as rare are the 360-degree views and such expansive outdoor space.
What makes these apartments at 140 Charles Street so special?
This property provides an exceptional opportunity to create a unique home in New York City. This much room—more than 4,000 square feet (372 sq m) of living space, including 750 square feet (70 sq m) of outdoor space—in the West Village is rare. Just as rare are the 360-degree views and such expansive outdoor space—there are terraces on every side. Being on the 18th and 19th floors in one of the neighborhood’s few high-rises means unobstructed views of the Empire State Building to the east, the World Trade Center and Statue of Liberty to the south, the new Hudson Yards development to the north, and the beautiful sunsets and Hudson River to the west.
How could this property be transformed?
The three apartments could be combined into one stunning open-plan home. My vision is to create an exceptional home that replicates the narrative of the exterior’s open and continuous views in the interior, echoed by the wraparound terrace. Likewise, the apartment’s interior should feel open and allow residents to see the entire living space from any vantage point.
How would you approach this ‘makeover’ project?
I would start by connecting the interior as much as possible to the exterior by limiting the number of partitions in the living space to make it feel much more open. The building’s structural elements—columns and interior core—then need to be incorporated into the design without the spaces feeling compartmentalized.
Tell us a bit more about your ideas…
The connection to the exterior can be realized with large bifolding glass doors that open to the outdoor space, which would yield expansive openings and take advantage of those endless New York City views. Spaces can then be distinguished by manipulating ceiling planes, floor and wall materials, and lighting. It’s also important to incorporate features that define spaces but don’t obstruct views—such as glass stair guardrails, an all-glass wine enclosure, cantilevered shelving, and open fireplaces that connect rooms as well as lend warmth.
What are the challenges of reimagining the space?
The 19th floor needs to be combined with the two one-bedroom units below, which of course means identifying the best location for a connecting staircase. The structural elements—such as the columns, interior core, and elevator—need to be creatively incorporated to logically connect the spaces, while creating an open floor plan to emulate the expansive views.
How do you like to work with a client?
I first assess how the client will use the space. It’s also important to establish a ‘language’: elements like materials, millwork, trim, and hardware styles. To do this, I usually present clients with examples of other work, and they tell me what appeals to them. I then set to work on floor plans based on these findings.
What other professionals would you bring on board for this makeover?
I work with the client to determine whether they want to bring in an interior designer to complete the language we’ve agreed with specific furniture and decor. Then it would be up to the client to decide if they want other professional services such as audio/video consultancy, and landscape architecture to further enhance the connection between the indoor and outdoor spaces, given the extensive terraces. And, of course, I would work with a structural engineer and a mechanical engineer.
Who do think would like to live in this reimagined home?
I’ve worked on many other apartment combinations, but this much square footage in the West Village, soaring high atop the Manhattan skyline, makes it a very exciting opportunity. I think this would be the ideal residence for a buyer who desires the space of a townhouse but wants the services of a doorman building, and also appreciates this intimate West Village neighborhood and the amazing views of a high-rise. It’s truly a unique Manhattan property.
About the Property
Rising high above the West Village skyline, this proposed three-unit combination is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to create one spectacular 4,280-square-foot (398-sq-m) duplex condominium or to maintain three separate apartments. All combinations of the available units offer panoramic New York City views.
“What’s particularly unique about this property is the combination of size, views, outdoor space, and of course location—not many apartments in the West Village can boast views like this, not to mention the wraparound terrace,” says Edward F Joseph, Associate Broker at Christie’s International Real Estate in New York City.
For a buyer with vision, this could really be a ‘townhouse in the sky.’ – Edward F Joseph, Christie’s International Real Estate
“This is such a great location,” adds Joseph. “So much in the West Village is landmarked, including the beautifully preserved 1830s townhouses and the cobblestoned streets. Plus, you’ve got some of the best restaurants in the city on the doorstep or a short walk away—it’s a real foodie paradise, reflecting the mixture of cultures that make this neighborhood the embodiment of the spirit of New York.”
“Compared with other relatively new apartments in the area, which go for $3,500 to $3,700 per square foot, this is fantastic value at around $2,300 per square foot,” Joseph adds. “For a buyer with vision, this could really be a ‘townhouse in the sky.’ I believe it could become one of the best apartments in the West Village. Or someone might choose to renovate just the 2,500-square-foot 19th-floor apartment and use the two one-bedrooms below as investment properties. There’s just so much potential.”