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The Surprising Backstory of This ‘Wee Cottage’ in the West Village (That’s Listed Under $500,000)

published Mar 5, 2020
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Credit: Anthony D'Argenzio

The details

Why we have a crush on this property

Chances are that when you scrolled through those details listed above, the square footage figure jumped out at you. But since location is everything in real estate, this teensy space in the West Village is nothing to toss aside. We found the listing on StreetEasy, which offers the most comprehensive set of vetted and verified apartments across NYC. It’s in a part of town that many millennials would just assume is out of reach for a first-time homebuyer, and with a little creativity and good eye for design, it could very well become your own little haven in the most classic of NYC neighborhoods.

Credit: Anthony D'Argenzio
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The previous owners fitted the spaces with an Italian Cielo Murphy bed...

Look past the size of the space, and you’ll notice that it’s actually pretty livable. Known as the “wee cottage,” the previous owners have optimized every inch of the ground floor apartment with clever fittings like an Italian Cielo Murphy bed, fold-away tables and seating, and even a hideaway kitchen workspace. One thing that isn’t diminutive about the space is its windows, which clock in at a healthy six feet and flood the airy room with brightness. The whitewashed fireplace and wood flooring also help the space maintain a less constricted feel. 

All this coziness equals an ideal starter home for some New Yorker to begin their West Village residence. It’s one of those small spaces that’s full of opportunity and independence and that shows how New York has a million stories to discover in every square inch. 

Credit: Anthony D'Argenzio

What makes this one special

Speaking of stories: This apartment has one that plays into a grander architectural narrative. By law, New York City apartments must be at least 400 square feet. But this studio slides under the radar as it qualifies as a “micro apartment.” While this type of housing is actually a recent initiative from the mid-2010s, this 242-square-foot, almost 1.5-centuries-old apartment fits the bill. The building was built in 1875 (how’s that for pre-war?) as a dorm for dockworkers on the nearby Hudson River. The current zoning laws were enacted in 1987, but #1C was grandfathered in and able to stay in circulation. According to a 2015 New York Times report, at least 3,000 of these micro-apartments were available in Manhattan alone—but they become rarer each day as old buildings are renovated. So what you give up for space, you make up in history—and, of course, in location and price.

Credit: Anthony D'Argenzio

Micro apartments might not be the best place to start your family, but they’re something first-time homebuyers might want to consider if they want to live in a pricier part of town on a smaller budget. And, in the case of #1C, in a home with historic charm.

If you’re looking for a micro studio of your own—or want something just a tad bigger—StreetEasy has it in their listings. Find out what’s out there for you.