Deeds and Dont’s

The inside scoop on New York real estate

(page 1 of 3)

Architect Annabelle Selldorf’s 200 Eleventh Avenue apartment tower seems to have stolen some of the limelight from Robert A. M. Stern’s 15 Central Park West and Richard Meier’s Perry Street twins. The 19-story, 14-unit building in West Chelsea has attracted such diverse residents as decorator Jamie Drake (biggest client: Mayor Michael Bloomberg), fashion designer Domenico Dolce (who is rumored to have spent $29 million on two of its penthouses), former Whitney Museum of American Art co-chair Robert J. Hurst, and actress Nicole Kidman and singer Keith Urban, who have settled into a $9.6 million unit on the fourth floor. (It looks like Kidman, who’s obviously into name brands, abandoned her $8 million Meier-built 12th-floor condo on Perry for better river views; she currently rents it out for $45,000 a month.) On the less celestial side, Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Fredrik Eklund, a former porn star and a host on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York, convinced fellow Swede and real estate titan Oscar Engelbert to buy a $5.95 million duplex on the fifth floor, although his associates Leonard Steinberg and Hervé Senequier are 200 Eleventh’s exclusive listing brokers. Steinberg, also a resident, is predictably smitten with his new address. “I hadn’t imagined living like this was possible in New York,” he says. “There are zero commercial entities on the ground floor—people come knocking, thinking we might be an art gallery.” The structure, comprising a base clad in gunmetal-glazed terra cotta and a tower of sculpted stainless steel, features 1,300- to 3,400-square-foot duplex layouts with 16- to 24-foot ceilings, wraparound terraces, and freestanding honed-granite tubs. Among the building amenities are a gym with an adjoining spin studio and a Sky Garage, which allows residents to drive into an oversize elevator that whisks them to private carports adjoining their digs. At press time, 200 Eleventh holds the record sales price for the neighborhood, with a recent purchase tallying $3,700-plus per square foot.     Allegra Muzzillo

illustration by tom backtell; eklund: Bravo Media; dolce, kidman AND urban: Shutterstock



Overall, the Manhattan real estate market closed out 2011 with a 12.4 percent decline in sales activity as compared to 2010—a significant softening, according to the Elliman Report, prepared by the independent appraisal firm Miller Samuel, Inc. The luxury market, too, which represents the top 10 percent of sales, or those totaling $2.975 million-plus, slowed by a similar amount. But the trophy market, the much-ballyhooed top one percent—or top 0.1 percent, really—is going gangbusters. “Right now, you have the best and all the rest,” says Miller Samuel’s Jonathan Miller.

At press time, ex-Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill is set to sell his penthouse at 15 Central Park West to Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $88 million—which would make it the biggest deal in New York City history. (Broker Kyle Blackmon of Brown Harris Stevens has the listing.) Yet the Rybolovlev sale isn’t alone.

In the last year, developer William Lie Zeckendorf’s apartment at 15 Central Park West sold for $40 million, and financier Damon Mezzacappa’s apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue was picked up for $42 million by billionaire philanthropists Robert M. and Anne T. Bass. Both sales translated to roughly $10,000 per square foot, outstripping $7,000-per-square-foot yields at the height of the boom. Such stratospheric figures are in marked contrast to the top-tier luxury market of the last several years, when anti–Wall Street sentiment made it gauche to drop $30 million on a condo. Back then, some rare high-end properties eventually sold for about half of what they were asking, including Brooke Astor’s 15th-floor duplex at 778 Park Avenue [see “Astor Place Theater,” page 66] and a triplex penthouse at 812 Park Avenue. The Astor apartment was priced at $46 million in 2008, but billionaire hedge funder Daniel Sundheim and his wife, Brett, paid a relatively meager $21 million late last year.

With 2012 bonuses looking slim,Kirk Henckels, director of the luxury-focused Stribling Private Brokerage, doesn’t expect many acquisitions by the Wall Street crowd, which dominates the $5- to $10-million market. “But I do expect an increased number of old-money home-buyers looking for $20-million-plus marquee homes,” says Henckels, who has been showing his listings to foreign buyers and entertainment executives. “People don’t like being denied their toys for very long.”     —Christina Lewis Halpern


Buyers have snapped up nearly all of the apartments at One Thirty West 12, the refurbished 14-story former St. Vincent’s Hospital building. It’s great news for the Rudin family, one of New York’s oldest, most powerful commercial real estate developers, who are making their first foray into the condo market. The Rudins have waged a long, contentious battle to redevelop the shuttered St. Vincent's complex, which is planned for 2015. But the controversy has not slowed sales at One Thirty, which opened for sales last fall. (Two still-available four-bedroom units are asking $5.75 million and $6.35 million, respectively.) The prewar detailing, huge layouts with multiple exposures, and sunken living rooms designed by Cook + Fox Architects created so much demand that “we raised prices eight times,” says Samantha Rudin, whose aunt, art collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, decorated the model apartments with dozens of pieces from her collection, including works by Franz Kline and Ed Ruscha. Stribling Marketing Associates is representing the building.      —C.L.H.

holy macdougal, batman!

Veteran hollywood director (and native New Yorker) Joel Schumacher decamped for California 30 years ago, but he’ll soon be spending more time in the Big Apple. Though he already owns a 790-square-foot condo at 25 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village, the Batman filmmaker has paid $4 million (through a trust) for a three-bedroom apartment at MacDougal Lofts. Just off Washington Square Park, the landmark 1891 Romanesque Revival building features 10 modern units with open English-inspired kitchens designed by Smallbone of Devizes, radiant-heated wood floors, enclosed glass fireplaces, automated lighting, and in-ceiling Crestron sound systems. Julie Pham of Corcoran had the listing.      —C.L.H.


you've got a friend?

The East Village was recently divested of a potential landmark building, thanks to former Friends actor David Schwimmer. Through an LLC, he reportedly shelled out $4.1 million for the five-story 1852 townhouse at 331 East 6th Street—the oldest on the block, between First and Second avenues. By demolishing itjust four months before it was eligible for historic status, Schwimmer incensed neighborhood preservationists. His plan for the site: a modern six-story home outfitted with an elevator and rooftop terrace.      —A.M.

beth rudin dewoody, joel schumacher and David schwimmer: istock




the straight and narrow

Here’s the skinny on a celebrated townhouse in the West Village: At just 9½ feet wide and 30 feet deep (including the rear garden), the Millay house at 75½ Bedford Street is universally described as the narrowest abode in New York City—and it’s on the market.

Best known as the former residence of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay (actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant also once lived here), it’s being advertised as both a sale and a rental: Lease it for $13,500 a month, or buy it for $3.95 million—$550,000 less than its $4.3 million ask this past December. Built in 1850, the recently renovated 990-square-foot townhouse hardly seems claustrophobic, with three bedrooms, a balcony overlooking a private garden, four wood-burning fireplaces, and a washer/dryer.      —Barbara Thau


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