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A West Village Home With a Gated Courtyard Is Up for Sale

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For the photographer Robert J. Stern, one of the best things about his late-19th-century home in the West Village is that “nobody really notices it.”

The four-story, brick-and-stucco structure at 54 Seventh Avenue South, a few blocks from Washington Square Park, “is kind of a secret,” Mr. Stern said. “It’s a trapezoidal building, almost free standing, in the middle of the block. You walk into a parking lot to get to it.”

But the building, between Morton and Commerce Streets, has had some notoriety of late. The commercial tenant on the ground floor is Makarian, the fashion brand that designed Dr. Jill Biden’s Inauguration Day ensemble, a striking teal blue dress and matching coat.

Credit…Pool photo by Melina Mara

Makarian and a residential tenant a floor above may soon have to find other quarters, however. Mr. Stern, who bought the building in 1993 from the estate of the feminist writer June D. Arnold, is listing the entire building for $11.95 million, with around $19,000 in annual property taxes, according Jonathan Hettinger, who is marketing the property with Mark Thomas Amadei, both of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Mr. Stern says the building, which once housed the Women’s Coffeehouse, is too big for just him — his wife, Yuka, and their adult son, Ren, are currently living in Japan. She had relocated there, he said, to help with a family business, the Ms. Reiko fashion brand. “It’s ridiculous living in a three-bedroom apartment when it’s just me and the dog,” he said. “It’s too big for us.”

The building, which is being marketed as a townhouse, had been up for sale in 2019. “Even though we like to think everything was rosy before the pandemic, 2019 was difficult for high-end real estate,” Mr. Hettinger said. “Many properties didn’t sell that year.”

Mr. Hettinger also noted that the building had been previously marketed as a commercial property. He expects the house to attract more interest now because of the pandemic. “It basically checks almost all the boxes of things that families are looking for, which is significant outdoor space, tall ceilings, authentic loft space and parking for two cars,” he said, adding that it could also be used by a professional as a live-work space or continue as it is with the two tenants. (Both leases are set to expire by year’s end, he says.)

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The building encompasses around 5,715 square feet and includes a large, unfinished basement currently used for storage.

Credit…Yoo Jean Han for Sotheby’s International Realty

The commercial space on the ground level — with an 18-by-38-foot showroom, a kitchenette, powder room and office — has a separate entrance at the front of the building and also opens to a rear garden. Outside space totals around 3,500 square feet and includes a large open space at the side of the building and a gated front courtyard, where there is parking for up to two cars.

“It’s a miracle if you have parking for one car in New York City, let alone two cars,” Mr. Hettinger said.

The floor-through apartment on the second level contains two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, dining room and galley kitchen.

The top two floors, where Mr. Stern and his family resided, has three bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a rooftop terrace with a pergola and around 200 potted plants and flowers. City views extend to Midtown Manhattan.

The kitchen, on the third floor, is equipped with custom-milled cabinets and natural soapstone countertops. The primary bedroom suite, which stretches across most of the fourth floor, features a traditional Japanese tatami room, a large walk-in closet, and a windowed en-suite bathroom with a soaking tub. There is also a separate laundry room.

Throughout the loft-like duplex are high, wood-beamed ceilings, exposed original brick, hardwood floors and numerous oversize windows. One of the bedrooms was converted into a bicycle workshop for Mr. Stern, an avid cyclist. All the bathrooms have been renovated, he said.

Mr. Stern has spent the bulk of his career as a fashion photographer and says he is now developing a property in the East Village. While he and his family are sad to be leaving their West Village home, he said, “our time is done and I can accept that.”

“I feel like I’m keeping a hotel for my family for when they come to New York.”

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