If Bruce Ratner Can Move the Empire Theater, He Can Move Himself

Anti-grit developer Bruce Ratner, whose theatrical gesture of jacking up the Empire Theater and dragging it 168 feet down 42nd Street to make room for a 25-screen AMC multiplex and a Madame Tussaud’s wax museum recently made the cover of The New York Times , is moving himself. Real estate sources said that on Jan. 16, Mr. Ratner found a buyer for the immaculate town house at 131 East 91st Street that he had lived in with his wife Julie Ratner. Sources said the offer is for about $2.6 million.

The Ratners (the house is registered to Julie) bought the 17-foot-wide brownstone in 1985 for $1.3 million. What? Did you expect a big-time developer like Mr. Ratner not to make a sack of money selling his own house?

“It’s not a big house,” said one broker who has admired the tasteful home. It’s a 17-foot-wide, four-story brick structure, built in 1895. There are 12-foot ceilings on the parlor floor, pocket doors, inlaid floors, a greenhouse by the kitchen, a fireplace in the master bedroom and built-in stereo wiring. Vacuum piping sucks quietly behind the walls; there’s one of those “media centers” in the basement.

Mr. Ratner’s company, Forest City-Ratner Companies, is known as the developer that brought office buildings and suburban-style shopping centers to the derelict regions of downtown Brooklyn. Mr. Ratner is also the chairman of the board at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. But with the Times Square tourist-entertainment complex, Forest City’s bid to redevelop Columbus Circle by installing a Sears there, and his night in the Lincoln Bedroom after he and his wife collectively donated $21,500 to the Democrats, it might appear that his agenda is expanding beyond the scope of this house. Unfortunately, however, the real cause is probably the couple’s divorce.

Because the house is only under contract, a spokesman for Mr. Ratner had no comment.