Home News They Had Space to Spare Inside Their Huge Manhattan Condo. So They Built Two Treehouses.

They Had Space to Spare Inside Their Huge Manhattan Condo. So They Built Two Treehouses.

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When Michael Holtz and Megan Genualdi walk the Havanese Poodle named Bagel on the Hudson River Greenway along the West Side Highway in Manhattan, they often hear people talking about their apartments.

“Is it a kids club?” And “What’s there?” Frequently asked questions. Their doormen regularly alienate strangers seeking a direct visit to their home, thinking it’s a kind of public amenity space.

The reason for all the attention is what they call a “tree house”. It is a two-winged wooden structure that spans a 22-foot-high living area with a spiral staircase and mesh seats. It looks very good from the street through the huge floor-to-ceiling windows of the combined unit of the building designed by the iconic Richard Meier known as 165 Charles.

Some apartments are what they call a “tree house”. Designed by New York-based No Architecture principal architect Andrew Heid, this is a two-part wooden structure designed to reduce the volume of a room.


Photo:

The Wall Street Journal Dorothy Phone

When Holtz, 56, the founder of luxury travel agency SmartFlyer, first purchased four units on the second floor of a building for a total of $ 9.9 million between 2005 and 2008, he wondered what to do with the space. I didn’t understand.

In the New York real estate market, Holtz tried to sell four units several times for 165 Charles because of the large number of apartments in luxury buildings that he had bought and sold over the years. One was $ 14 million in 2011, $ 12.9 million in 2013, and $ 14 million again in 2015.

“I received some solid offers, but I didn’t want to let them go,” he says.

In 2017, he hired New York-based No Architecture principal architect Andrew Heid to design a $ 4.5 million project to consolidate two apartments into four bedrooms, four bathrooms and 3,500. Square foot space. The refurbishment removed the partition wall between the two apartments, leaving a spongy main living area that included the kitchen, dining room, and living room.

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Holtz states that the main goal of the reconstruction was to create a sense of scale. In front of a wooden house, he says, sitting in half of the living room on the sofa, watching TV on the big screen, feels like a miniature in a vast space. “I knew I needed something here, but I didn’t know what I needed,” he says. It was like a basketball court.

The idea of ​​a tree house structure was partly due to allowing restrictions. New York City rules did not allow the addition of square feet to an apartment, including other types of structures with lofts and platform floors. The tree house has only a net that is considered to be a “soft space” and can move the entire structure, so it is counted as furniture that has passed a rally with the authorities.

The tree house also acts as a sculpture, making cuts in the space and adding verticality without being heavy and dark, says Hyde. From the higher part of the net seating area, you can see the tops of the trees lined up in the West Side Highway, Hudson, and New Jersey buildings.

Hyde’s characteristic architectural approach is a flexible space. His work includes private residences, museums and other buildings in the country and around the world, and tends to have what he calls a “matrix plan”. Keep it open for nighttime space or as an office or lounge during the day. Not only is such a layout more efficient, he says, it also helps connect residents and create more communal lifestyles.

“The whole idea of ​​a bedroom in a central corridor you don’t use is outdated,” says Hyde. “This was an opportunity to eradicate it.”

After passing through the front door, the first room on the right has a sofa, a TV, and a thick pocket door that forms a wall when closed. That’s what Genuardi calls the CNN room because it’s where Holtz saw the non-stop CNN in the early stages of Covid’s pandemic.

The walkway next to the window leads to a guest bedroom with a walk-in closet and bathroom. In the absence of guests, the room also serves as Mr. Holtz’s additional work room. This is because it opens towards the main room, which has a large open kitchen and breakfast table where Holtz usually works. When he is at home.

The tree house occupies most of the main living area, below which is the dining table. Opposite the main living area of ​​the kitchen, there is a rotating bookshelf and a TV that can be rotated to close another bedroom. Currently, Genualdi, the account manager of a business management company based in New York, will use it as an office. Behind the room is the main bedroom, which leads to the CNN room across the main area through a pocket door.

Rooms feature brightly colored Douglas-fir floors, large microshade windows and modern mid-century furniture. The main room is full of vegetation (all fig vegetation because it can survive the shades of windows aimed at protecting the artwork).

The idea of ​​a tree house structure was partly due to allowing restrictions. New York City rules did not allow the addition of square feet to an apartment, including other types of structures with lofts and platform floors. The tree house has only a net that is considered a “soft space” and can move through the entire structure, so it counts as furniture that has passed a rally with the authorities.


Photo:

The Wall Street Journal Dorothy Phone

Three buildings designed by Richard Meier line the West Side Highway. On the right is 165 Charles.


Photo:

The Wall Street Journal Dorothy Phone

Holtz grew up in what is known as the “ordinary Long Island home” in Oceanside, New York. There, his father worked as a patent attorney. Wanting to become a patent attorney, Holtz studied engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and graduated in 1987. But instead of going to law school, he worked on Wall Street and then went on a luxury trip. New York agency.

In 1990 Holtz started his own travel agency. He met 35-year-old Genualdi, who worked as an account manager at a Phoenix-based travel agency, at an industry event in Paris in 2016. The two married in late 2019, and a few months later the refurbished apartment was completed. Enough to live just before the pandemic begins. “We used wedding gifts,” says Genualdi, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and majored in business administration and communications at Arizona State University. She jokes that they can have a more “normal relationship” because Mr. Holtz meant that Mr. Holtz wasn’t engaged in his usual travel frenzy. Due to a pandemic-related supply shortage, the final decision on the project was delayed until earlier this year.

Since he started his travel business, Holtz has been buying and selling apartments in New York, usually in new and iconic buildings. One of his most notable turnarounds was the 66 3-bedroom condo.th Floor of a building called Park Imperial at 230 West 56th On the street, he bought it for $ 2.985,000 in 2003 and sold it to Sean “Didi” Combs (also known as Puff Daddy) a year later for $ 3.82 million. In 2008, Holtz sold a 2,520-square-foot unit on the 14th.th The $ 8.5 million Central Park West 15th floor he bought for $ 4.86 million a year ago.

Holtz has made numerous attempts to sell the unit at 165 Charles over the past decade, spending time refurbishing an apartment he lives full-time when the couple isn’t traveling and during a pandemic. It is said that the time has changed. For now, I’m concerned about moving. “We will be staying here,” he says.

As you walk along the Hudson River Greenway, Michael Holtz and Megan Genuardi often hear people talking about the apartment and the unusual wooden construction within it.Video: The Wall Street Journal Dorothy Hong

Write to Nancy Keets [email protected]

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