The Squid Are Coming


Location Greenwich Village

Price $425,000 in 1997 [$2,065.43 monthly maintenance]

Square feet 1,400 with 200-square-foot terrace [former spice factory]

Occupant Fred Hanson [theater director]

Your view of the Hudson River is like a 1930s movie set, boats moving left and right on the wavy blue water. It’s like being on an ocean liner, except for the shore of New Jersey. The apartment was previously owned by Lanford Wilson, the playwright. Though he wasn’t living here when I bought it.

You see the sun come up. You see the sun go down. I don’t often see it come up.

You may not see it forever. No.

I heard developers are tearing down the factory in front of your building and putting up an almost 200-foot-tall condo that will block your view. Aren’t you frightened? We always knew we were vulnerable because the building in front is the last manufacturing building in this residential neighborhood.

The Superior ink factory—where I was sure that the squid come up from the docks to deliver their ink, wobbling in on all their legs. I haven’t seen any walking squid.

It turns out Superior does not use squid ink, just tree resins. Their three-story building used to be the National Biscuit Company in 1919.
A developer has either bought the site or rights to the site.

The Related Companies! The same ones that put up the building at Astor Place that Gwathmey designed and it’s all blue and I bet people inside are going to wear blue glasses so it will always be blue for them. Apartments costs millions. Related is trying to get a zoning variance here so they can build even bigger. They have to prove that that’s the only way they can get a return on their money. They are crying hardship. Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation director Andrew Berman said that Related’s portfolio is worth over $10 billion. So where is the hardship? Then if Related succeeds, all developers will be sobbing because of their own hardship. I heard the building is going to be 20-some stories. So your view will go . . .
It’s not just views. It’s a question of light and air for some apartments.

They call the West Side Highway the new Gold Coast, Miami Beach. It began with the Richard Meier condo buildings that are so sea-green glass and perfect in the spirit of the greatest of glass, like Mies’s buildings, Bunshaft’s Lever House . . . The Meier buildings are what prompted the community to take action and get the city to reconsider the zoning and extend the Village landmark. The city only cherry-picked certain buildings for landmarking—Superior was not one.

What are you going to do if they build in front of your windows? If I lose all four, I would have to consider moving.

How could you sell the apartment without a view? Others have sold since the word is out. Somehow the market takes that into account. But it will put a cloud over it.

Did you ever have a water view before? I grew up in the Midwest, Downers Grove. We had a pond across the way.

You also have an apartment in Brazil. Yes, the apartment in Rio, I share with a friend. It looks out on Sugarloaf. The side faces a garden that used to be the presidential palace.

The colors are green and yellow there. We wanted color. In Brazil, class and elegance in home design equal white. It’s very hard to find things that aren’t white.

What was the last show you directed? Oh, what was that? Oklahoma!, based on the 2002 Broadway production. It was touring all over the place.

What happens in the show? Oh, I know. She has a dream. There are bentwood chairs, lots of vice, crooked signs.