Are You Special Enough to Buy Brooklyn's Famous Gingerbread House?

  • Back view of Brooklyn's famous Gingerbread House

    Back view of Brooklyn's famous Gingerbread House

  • The dog does not come with the property, but gives you a feel for the warm, homey atmosphere of the Gingerbread House

    The dog does not come with the property, but gives you a feel for the warm, homey atmosphere of the Gingerbread House

  • Gingerbread House dining room

    Gingerbread House dining room

You'd think sellers wouldn't be too picky about the buyer of an $11 million property that has been on and off the market for nearly seven years. However, when it comes to Brooklyn's landmarked Arts and Crafts masterpiece known as the Gingerbread House, only a very "enlightened" type of buyer will suffice, according to agent Dr. David Reis of Keller Williams.

"This is New York's finest, most pristine example of the Arts and Crafts architectural movement," Reis says. "The right buyer who truly 'gets' it has not come forward yet. The owners will wait as long as it takes for the property's next custodian to come along."

The owner is local and has plenty of patience. He grew up in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn and was familiar with the iconic home and vowed to own it one day. He eventually became one of only four owners over the past century.

Built in 1910 by architect James Sarsfield, this home assuredly isn't a Brooklyn hipster hangout. The Gingerbread House is located about six minutes from Brooklyn hot spots and about 25 minutes from Wall Street.

It sits on one of the biggest residential lots in New York City, spanning an entire city block of 20,000 square feet, and includes a quarter-acre "parade ground" green space. In fact, this lot could hold 10 typical Brooklyn townhouses, according to Reis.

Contrast this spacious estate with what you'd get for an $11 million property in nearby Manhattan, which would likely be a 3,000-square-foot modern box apartment with a balcony, on an upper floor.

With this stone mansion, the design of the undulating roof will transport you across the Atlantic to the Cotswolds in England. To describe the house as having six bedrooms and five-plus bathrooms in 5,764 square feet of space doesn't even begin to tell its story -- it's a bit like describing "The Hobbit" as a book with 330 pages.

Among its distinctive features are sculpted wood reliefs, stained-glass windows, and hand-carved stone fireplaces, mantels, columns, and arches in the Arts and Crafts style.

There's a large and open great room, which is unusual for a home built when small, dark rooms were in vogue. The music conservatory is the pice de rsistance, with a stone hearth, carved stone columns, and sculpted stone reliefs. There is cherry and Burmese mahogany flooring throughout the house.

As you might imagine, there are no comps for this estate anywhere in New York. The current price tag might seem like a bargain, but not just any deep-pocketed buyer will be allowed to purchase it. For one thing, its official landmark designation prohibits a buyer from dividing the property, or developing the residence beyond certain limitations.

And then there are the owners, who are biding their time until just the right buyer comes along. "This house is perfect for joyous inhabitants who would use the energy of this property to think deep thoughts and apply them to their professions," says Reis.

He sees the ideal buyer as perhaps "a creative with a brand in fantasy, a U.K. resident who wants to feel at home in the Cotswolds, or a captain of industry who finds inspiration in his or her surroundings." That may be a tall order, but, according to the owners, this particular slice of heaven can wait.