No More Buy and Hold: Former Gottlieb Property Back On the Market

horatio No More Buy and Hold: Former Gottlieb Property Back On the Market

Once 79 Horatio started selling, it was hard to stop.

It seems that the proclivities of the late real estate hoarder William Gottlieb did not attach to his property at 79 Horatio Street. In just a few years, the West Village tenement house has been listed twice (thrice if you count a brief marketplace hiatus preceding a re-listing this July).

But we suppose that Gottlieb, who died in 1999, was onto something with his inflexible “buy and hold” approach to property acquisition and management. In just a two years, the vacant multi-family property nearly doubled its price and is now asking an audacious $12.5 million. It’s only a matter of time before it makes its post-renovation debut for $24 million, an outcome that Halstead listing broker Barbara Godson sees as more than likely.

“The house next door is on the market for $20 million,” she told The Observer. “I think once converted to a single-family, this house would be worth more than $2o million.”

In 2008 the five-story brick building went up for sale for the first time in 40 years, following a lengthy legal battle that started when Gottlieb’s heirs and the building’s co-owner Vicky Gabay could not agree on what role Ms. Gabay should play in the building’s management, or if she should even be allowed to have a key to the property.

And although Gottlieb’s estate was able to purchase Ms. Gabay’s share of the building back at auction, things were apparently never the same after the home was tainted by market forces. The old tenement was listed again and sold to Waco Enterprises LLC in 2010 for $6 million. It appears that selling can be as addictive as buying, especially when you own a property in the impossibly hip far West Village, close to the Meatpacking District and the Highline. A sidenote: Gottlieb bought the building for $68,000 in 1969.

Ms. Godson told The Observer that the current owners, a family who lives in Brazil at the moment, had planned to do the single-family conversion when they moved back. But after a delayed return to the states, they made the distinctly un-Gottliebian decision to sell. And why not, if you can double your money while doing nothing (although it remains to be seen whether they will be able to).

“It’s special because it has wonderful river views,” said Ms. Godson. “Also, there is a magical garden in the back.”

The 6,750 square-foot structure will need a gut-renovation, of course, in order to become a stunning single family. As the listing puts it, the old tenement “provides a rare opportunity to build an amazing 6-bedroom house with staff quarters.” But really, you can build however many bedrooms you want, as you’ll be tearing the insides out and redesigning all the interiors. Gut renovations are so freeing!

kvelsey@observer.com