The penthouse in New York’s iconic Woolworth building is proving to be a challenging pitch.
As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, real estate developer Ken Horn has been looking for buyers for the five-story, geometrically designed penthouse on top of the iconic New York City skyscraper. The property has been available for sale since 2015 and marketed actively since 2017. Horn just slashed to $79 million from the original $110 million asking price.
The Woolworth Building in downtown Manhattan was built in 1913 for dime store tycoon Frank W. Woolworth and, at that time, was the tallest building in the world. Its penthouse, which sprawls five of the top stories and in surrounding by the building’s four turrets, is shaped like a giant cylinder stretching into the Gothic-style spire. The residents will also be able to get a head-turning view of the city through the 360-degree observation deck that comes with the penthouse.
But while stunning architecturally, the unique design is confusing some potential buyers. According to Horn, one prospective buyer considered turning it into a one-bedroom bachelor pad while an architect thought of building in cold storage for the fur coats of the uber-wealthy guests.
Another prospective buyer reportedly thought up of building a small office with a hydraulic lift that would take one in between the office and the observation deck without having to change rooms.
“Even architects couldn’t necessarily conceive of the space,” Horn told the Journal. “We realized this is way too complicated for 80 percent of the people who are going to see it.”
To help attract buyers and make them see the potential in the place, Horn has enlisted the help of architect David Hotson. Hotson, whose work includes ultra-luxury apartments with eccentric features such as slides and slanted ceilings, is currently working to make the penthouse look like a ship — with a two-story yacht-style living room, a 360-degree mezzanine level and a sprawling staircase between the floors.
Still, the struggle to find a buyer might have less to do with the building’s style and more to do with the fluctuations of the market. Recent research found that as New York skyscrapers get taller and the public expects celebrities to live in a penthouse, ultra-wealthy buyers increasingly opt to live on a building’s lower floors.
What’s more, the luxury market has been stagnating, with homes that cost more than $10 million sitting without a buyer for longer than they had in past years. Horn told the Journal that his company, Alchemy Properties, has lowered prices for all apartments in the Woolworth Building by about 10 percent and that 30 percent of its 32 residential units are already sold or in contract to sell.
“We realize that the market has fallen a bit, and we’re realistic,” Horn said.