If New York is a godless city, then Greenwich Village is its heathen hotbed. But sex shops and leather bars aside, nothing typifies Manhattan sin quite like an 1860 Methodist church that’s been converted into apartments, especially when a septuagenarian Texan billionaire nicknamed Wyly Coyote is a condo buyer.
According to city records, Sam Wyly and his wife, Cheryl, have spent $3.05 million on a 2,401-square-foot apartment at the new Novare on West Fourth Street, just renovated by a hip architecture-cum-development firm called FLAnk.
The old Washington Square church’s Romanesque Revival facade is intact, but there are unholy new features like fingerprint entry. “The building is certainly not your typical conversion by any means,” said Corcoran Group listing broker Brian Babst, “and I say that as someone whose own sister lives in a church conversion in Washington.”
Mr. Wyly founded a supercomputing firm in the 1960’s, according to his Forbes billionaire bio, then moved into insurance and oil and, later, the crafts chain Michaels Stores. This past year, though, he’s been making news because of his foggy offshore tax shelter on the Isle of Man.
The church will save him! There are seven banks of floor-to-ceiling stained glass on the western wall of his loft-like apartment; better yet, the huge-windowed living room faces the church’s 50-foot-high atrium lobby (with its own stained glass).
For added glow, a light shaft runs down the center of the apartment. It’s like a steroidal skylight, open to sunbeams but also to rainfall and scenic snow. “When precipitation happens, that is dynamic,” the broker said.
Back in pre-condo days, the Village church was a hub for Vietnam peace activists and a meeting place for Black Panthers. Now there’s a programmable virtual doorman: “It’s smart,” said Mr. Babst. “You can enroll your cleaning person, but only”—if you so desire—“from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays.”