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A Luxury Condo Building With Views of the Skyline, and the Prison Next Door

If you want to live at 100 11th Avenue, a luxury condominium building in West Chelsea with a fancy architectural pedigree, it will probably cost you a couple of million dollars, or at least $10,000 monthly rent. For your grand fee, you will get wide open vistas of the Manhattan skyline and views of the Hudson River all the way down to the Statue of Liberty.

But many of the apartments in the building have views of something else, too: the roof of the building next door, where women in dark green uniforms can be seen milling about under a protective bubble made of chain-link fence. The residents of the adjacent building have some of the same views as the condos next door — except these people cannot wait to move out.

That is because 100 11th Avenue, a building designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, presses right up against the Bayview Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison for women.

“We called it the naughty girls’ club,” said Holly Parker, a managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman and the director of sales at the Nouvel building. “We never said the p-word.”

Two weeks ago, the last unsold apartment at 100 11th Avenue went into contract, and the price per square foot for the building averaged about $1,850, Ms. Parker said; that is nearly $600 higher than the average per-square-foot price for Chelsea condos in the fourth quarter of last year, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

So as it turns out, the only thing more surprising than the building’s next-door neighbor is the conclusion that in the end, the “p-word” did not matter much at all.

“The building did not appear to be stigmatized by it,” said Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel. The apartments did take several years to sell out, Mr. Miller said — a few are now back on the market, including one asking $16.9 million — and some were heavily discounted from their original asking prices. But that was really a function of the market, he continued, not the neighbors.

“Would they have sold quicker or at a higher price if the prison wasn’t there?” he said. “Yes, there’s potential there, but it’s not a make-or-breakout issue.” He paused to have a chuckle. “Breakout!”

Brokers who did deals at 100 11th Avenue said there were certainly buyers for whom the jumpsuit view was a no-no, but plenty of people were unperturbed, and some even found the grit appealing.

“I show my friends when they come over,” said Joseph Wald, as he walked his two French bulldogs around the block. “There’s the view of the water, there’s the view of the city, and there’s the view of the prison. It’s a great conversation starter.”

One woman, who works for a resident of the building, said that once in a while, she would wave at the inmates. The response, unfortunately, is not always friendly.

“They’ve flipped us off a couple of times,” she said with a smile.

In the suburbs, appraisers said, this might be considered a problem.

But Michael Vargas, co-founder of the Vanderbilt Appraisal Company, said Manhattanites were not terribly interested in what happened next door, so long as the neighbors were not smelly or loud.

“A luxury building like this is an enclosed environment,” Mr. Vargas said. “People are more concerned about the finishes, the quality, the luxury amenities and the view.”

And the prison building, residents pointed out, is discreet (no bars, only very thick screens) and actually rather attractive. The orangeish brick structure, which has some nice prewar detail on the facade, was constructed in 1931 as a Y.M.C.A. for merchant seamen.

Steve Crotch, another resident at the Nouvel building, said that despite the condominium’s fabulous facade — it is made up of hundreds of panes of glass that hang together like a shattered mirror just before the pieces fall to the floor — he felt it was the prisoners who were the victims of the view.

“I feel a bit like we’re rubbing it in,” he said.

A medium-security prison like Bayview houses a range of inmates, including well-behaved violent offenders and nonviolent offenders whose crimes were severe, according to the State Department of Corrections. That could mean people convicted of a variety of crimes, including murder, robbery and selling drugs. Most of the women at Bayview are nearing the end of their sentences or are in work-release programs.

For about five hours during the week and eight hours on weekends, Bayview inmates are permitted out on the roof to take in the air. They can choose between the exercise area, which has sweeping city views, and a smaller deck, lined with gray plastic picnic tables, that has straight-on views of the Hudson River.

There is a third recreation area for inmates who misbehave. It has no view.

River or no river, 11th Avenue was a scary place when Bayview opened in 1974, said Wendy A. Featherstone, the prison superintendent, who has worked at the facility on and off since 1983. But today, the neighborhood is a parade of art galleries and suede loafers, and the juxtaposition of the Nouvel design, with Chelsea Piers across the street and the prison up the block, is a lot like the architectural equivalent of riding the subway.

“The person you’re sitting next to might be the wealthiest person, but they’ve chosen to take the train,” Ms. Featherstone said. “It’s New York life.”

In recent years, rumors have been circulating that Bayview is soon to close, but the Department of Corrections said there was no truth to them. And if the wisdom of a one famous New Yorker is to be believed, that should be no cause for concern.

“There’s an old George Carlin joke about how the safest place to live is right next to a prison,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, a dog walker who has a client in 100 11th Avenue.

“If someone escapes, what do you think they’re going to do? Stick around?” he continued in a perfect Carlin rasp. “No! They’re going to run like hell!”

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