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50 West 15th Street, New York City, NY


The Oculus in Chelsea, Manhattan
Building Information
Developer Alchemy Properties
Architect FXFowle
Number of Units 47
Number of Floors 10
Year Built 2008
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof IRMA
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50 West 15th Street, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Over 60 nearby routes
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning C6 - 2M
Title of Land Condominium



Found mid block on West 15th Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues, the Oculus finds itself in the heart of Lower Manhattan, and walking distance to several major New York City neighborhoods.

A mid rise residential condominium, the Oculus broke ground in 2007 and was completely sold out by 2009. Designed by the architectural firm of FXFowle, this building is known for bucking the trend of glass towers that was popular at the time, and instead opting for a terra-cotta exterior facade that harkened back to the early 20th century and terra-cotta’s ample use in the commercial buildings built during that time.


While the Oculus is technically located in the neighborhood of Chelsea, it actually sits at the crossroads of four of New York City’s most vibrant areas: Chelsea, Greenwich Village, the Flatiron District, and Union Square. Therefore, residents of the Oculus have access to many of Lower Manhattan’s most famed districts.

Chelsea can be found on the west side of Lower Manhattan between 14th and 30th Streets, and is primarily a residential area. Chelsea is also known as the art gallery haven of Manhattan, with over 350 galleries located within its borders. Greenwich Village is also primarily a residential neighborhood often referred to simply as The Village, and has a long and storied history in the arts and culture.

Many artists have lived and worked in the Village, including Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Isadora Duncan, Eugene O’Neill, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginssberg, Dylan Thomas, Maya Angelou, Liza Minnelli, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Barbara Streisand, and Bette Midler.

Union Square

The Flatiron District came into its own in the mid 1980s when the largely commercial area around the famed Flatiron Building began its transformation into a residential neighborhood. Named after its namesake building, the Flatiron District is known as the home of the Met Life Building, the Ladies’ Mile Historic District, the birthplace of Theodore Roosevelt, One Madison Park, and the Museum of Sex. Union Square is a historic public park located at the crossroads of Broadway, Fourth Ave, and 14th Street that was established in 1815. Throughout the years, Union Square has been home to many significant social and political protests, and remains one of Manhattan’s most famous public parks.

With a walk score and transit score of 100 out of 100, residents of the Oculus do not require a car to complete their daily errands, as they are within walking distance of an abundance of food, shopping, home services, and transit options. With a bike score of 85 out of 100, cyclists will love the flat grades and many excellent bike lanes nearby.[1]


In the early 2000s, developer Alchemy Properties was very active in Manhattan real estate, particularly in the neighborhood of Chelsea. Several projects that went up around the same time as the Oculus include the Lion's Head, the Paradigm, the Bullmoose, and 120 Gramercy Hill. Plans for the Oculus were first unveiled in 2006, with the architectural firm of FXFowle providing the design for the 10 story building. Ground was broken in 2007, and construction was completed in 2008, although construction was reportedly held up late in 2007 in order to deal with a rat infestation.[2]

While glass curtain wall exterior facades were hugely popular at the time of the Oculus’ development and construction, this building was notable at the time for doing away with this tradition, and instead bringing back the terra-cotta facade that had once been so popular among the buildings of New York City. It was reported that the terra-cotta facade was chosen because the developers didn’t find glass buildings to be all that interesting and therefore, the building’s exterior features over sized Wausau windows set in among the terra-cotta facade, which sit behind a series of stainless steel railed balconies.[3]

Layout and Features

An example of the kitchen at the Oculus

Standing at 10 stories, the Oculus is a mid rise residential building that holds 47 apartments within its hold. These apartments range in size from studios of 624 square feet to penthouses of 3,487 square feet, and of these, 21 units have their own private outdoor space, whether in the form of balconies or terraces.

These apartments feature over sized ceilings, cherry hardwood floors, in suite laundry, and self contained heating and cooling systems. The kitchens come equipped with Viking appliances, Poggenpohl cabinetry, granite counter tops, wine chillers, and kitchen islands. The bathrooms feature Kohler fixtures and vanities, his and her sinks, radiant heating, limestone and marble finishes, glass standing showers, and soaking tubs.[4]

Floor Plans

A selection of floor plans is presented.


Residents of the Oculus enjoy several luxury amenities, including:

  • 24 hour attended lobby
  • Concierge services
  • Doorman
  • Live in superintendent
  • Roof deck
  • Landscaped garden
  • Recreational spaces
  • Resident lounge
  • Storage facilities
  • Video intercom security system



Oculus Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets Yes
Age No

  • This building allows for rentals, sublets, and pied-a-terre.
  • There are no age restrictions for this building.
  • This building is pet friendly.[6]


To date, the Oculus has not received any LEED certifications and therefore, it is not designated as a green building.

Residents who wish to help improve the building’s overall sustainability can do so in several ways, including:

  • Participating in New York City’s recycling programs
  • Limiting the use of a car in favor of walking and/or taking public transit in order to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Installing more energy efficient materials and appliances when updating/renovating their apartments


  • The Oculus was lucky in that it appeared to avoid the post financial crisis housing crash that had such a significant impact on so many other condominium developments of the time. In August of 2009, Alchemy Properties issued a press released stating that the Oculus had sold out all of its units.[7]
  • It was reported that during construction, union construction workers protested the fact that a non-union crew of glass installers were working on the building. These protestors seized upon the building’s rat infestation at the time as an opportunity to use inflated rats as symbols for their protests.[8]


  1. Walk Score
  2. Emporis
  3. The Real Deal
  4. NY Bits
  5. New Construction Manhattan
  6. Manhattan Scout
  7. The Real Deal
  8. Curbed NY

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