Adam Gordon had no intention of leaving the Jane Street townhouse he’d spent years gut-renovating. “I always thought that I would be carried out of here feet first,” he says. Gordon calls himself an “accidental developer.” What that means is that he’s got a sense of a property’s potential and the fortitude required for a gut renovation. The Jane Street property was languishing on the market when he bought it for $3 million in 2004. Even the broker warned him that he wasn’t going to like it. The garden was the problem; it was dank, dark, and walled in on all three sides. It had no view. Gordon bought the property sight unseen.
The maligned backyard was, for Gordon’s architect Steven Harris, the house’s secret gem. He got so excited—even though when he saw it, it was filled with mysterious, slightly romantic detritus—that he took off the back wall and made the brownstone a one-sided glass house.
That and other renovations wisely done (and meticulously documented by the snapshots here that compare before and after) boosted the house’s selling price by more than $10 million in the three years between Gordon’s purchase and his decision to sell. What property could possibly have lured him away from Jane Street? The Bouwerie Lane Theatre building, built in 1874 at Bond and Bowery. He’s knee-deep in renovations again. Here, Harris describes the process of the Jane Street renovation.
Before: 4,500-Square-Foot Jane Street Townhouse Photographs by Scott Frances