INTERNET UPSTART TRIES TO FILL DAVID BOWIE’S LOFT. We’ve
fallen to earth. Internet executives are living like rock stars. Or at
least trying to.
On Feb. 26, Michael Odell, a vice president at Sapient
Corporation–a Cambridge, Mass.-based Internet systems builder and
software developer that made the 1998 Forbes 200 list of small
companies to watch–paid about $1.85 million for David Bowie’s
5,000-square-foot, ninth-floor condo at 704 Broadway, near East Fourth
Street. And he’s using it as a pied-à-terre .
On the other hand, Mr. Bowie and his wife, Iman, who bought the
apartment just a year ago for $1.5 million, just made $400,000 off the
Internet e-commerce upstart.
When the couple purchased the loft in 1998, the space was practically
raw, except for two bathrooms and a very minimalist kitchen. At the time,
the couple planned to renovate extensively. But as rock stars and models
are wont to do, the couple changed their minds and put the condo back on
the market last October for $2 million. That same month, they signed a
contract to buy two apartments at 285 Lafayette Street for $4 million. That
deal on their latest acquisition is expected to close as early as the end
of April, when the building, which is currently under renovation, will
receive a preliminary certificate of occupancy.
A source close to the deal said that Mr. Odell lives primarily in
Massachusetts, but will use the Manhattan apartment for his frequent visits
to the Jersey City, N.J., office. The Internet executive’s new space
contains at least 15 windows that provide panoramic views and plenty of
light. Despite the raw condition, one broker called the place
“magnificent.” Another called it a bargain–even at $400,000
more than Mr. Bowie paid. “He really stole it, because it’s not
going to take that much money to do,” said the broker. “It needs
decorating more than anything else.”
Neither Mr. Bowie or Mr. Odell could be reached for comment. Dolly Lenz,
the buyer’s broker, could not be reached for comment.
Bridge Is Out for Mottola’s $9.75 Million Beachfront
What Sony Music Entertainment’s chief executive, Tommy Mottola,
isn’t advertising as he tries to sell his embattled North Haven
beachfront estate at 16 Ferry Road for $9.75 million is that major roadwork
will certainly prolong the dreaded Friday-evening commute of any
prospective new owner.
Luckily for Mr. Mottola, the two-year demolition and reconstruction of
the bridge that connects North Haven to Sag Harbor by the state’s
Department of Transportation was recently postponed from June to Labor Day.
But the project, which will reduce traffic on the bridge to one lane,
lengthening the commute to Mr. Mottola’s house, even in the Hamptons
off-season. The only possible way to avoid the bridge is a 20-minute detour
through Noyac, according to local real estate sources.
Eileen Peters, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said,
“The bridge is scheduled for total replacement, done in what we call
stage construction, i.e., traffic is going to be maintained. Come Labor
Day, there will be just one lane that will be controlled by a signal.”
In other words, traffic moving in one direction will be held up while the
opposite line of traffic passes.
The partial bridge closing is yet another Hamptons headache for Mr.
Mottola, who endured months of costly renovations on the house after
purchasing it for $2.1 million in 1997; reports say Mr. Mottola spent
millions and doubled the square footage of the house. In 1998, Mr. Mottola
entered into a prolonged tiff with local authorities and the Department of
Environmental Conservation over the building of a 233-foot boat pier in the
harbor, where the owner could dock jet skis and cigarette boats. Mr.
Mottola’s lawyers are appealing a D.E.C. ruling denying him permission
to construct a 198-foot pier, a compromise he made with the town of North
The bridge, known locally as the Route 114 Short Bridge, should be
completed by May 2001. Margaret Griffin, a broker with Allan M. Schneider
Associates who is marketing the property for Mr. Mottola, did not return
calls seeking comment.
Upper West Side
333 Central Park West (Turin), near 93rd Street
Three-bed, two-bath, 2,000-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $1.295 million. Selling: $1.1 million.
Charges: $1,633; 45 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one month.
THE LAST CROSSTOWN BUS. Last spring, a family of four decided to sell their
Upper East Side co-op and move across the park, where their two kids attend
elementary school. They looked at a fifth-floor apartment at 333 Central
Park West that needed a total renovation. When finally they were able to
sell their apartment, they discovered that a similar, eight-room apartment
was for sale one floor down. It was comparably priced, and in better
condition, so the family put in a bid on it and purchased it, for $1.1
million. But the renovations are substantial enough to keep them on the
East Side for a few more months. That means another semester of crosstown
carpooling. But by June, they’ll be forwarding their mail. Broker:
Gumley Haft Kleier Inc. (Roberta Title); Prudential M.L.B. Kaye
International Realty (Stephanie Lord de Lan).
50 West 86th Street
Five-story town house.
Asking: $2.95 million. Selling: $2.7 million.
Time on the market: three months.
TAG-TEAM LANDLORDS. Two married actors from New Jersey have considered this
house–and long-distance landlording–their favorite hobby for the
last 25 years. When it came to the place’s upkeep, they were
solicitous to a fault. “If somebody spilled something in the hallway,
rather than just shampoo the carpet, they would replace all the carpet in
the halls,” said Nat Rockett, the broker who marketed the building for
the sellers. The building, near Columbus Avenue, has nine residential
units, and a professional office on the ground floor. Now, as
septuagenarians, the husband and wife decided to trade in their
supplemental income for full-time retirement. But they were determined to
find a new owner–and landlord–who was just as enthusiastic about
overseeing the building as they were. In fact, they found a couple who
wanted to be an on-site landlord. The engaged pair, who also have an estate
in Bernardsville, N.J., and a house in Key Largo, Fla., are already living
in the third-floor unit, which has two bedrooms, two baths and a patio.
Broker: Massey Knakal Realty Services (Nat Rockett); Susan Robbins Realty
Inc. (Susan Robbins).
220 East Fifth Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,150-square-foot condo.
Asking: $495,000. Selling: $450,000.
Charges: $341. Taxes: $308.
Time on the market: six weeks.
GREED IS CONTAGIOUS. Some of us get to live on East Fifth Street. Others
have to go to India to try to eradicate tuberculosis. A doctor with an
international health organization bought this apartment near Second Avenue
in 1991 for $261,500, but a few summers ago, he signed up for a
disease-fighting mission and he and his family shipped off to India. After
leasing the space for a couple of years to two bankers from the
Netherlands, the doctor finally made up his mind to sell it. The
apartment–with two skylights, hardwood floors, 12-foot ceilings and a
450-square-foot terrace off the master suite on the second floor of a
brownstone–engaged four parties in a drawn-out bidding session. In
other words, the couple who bought the place started at $400,000, and
slowly, torturously, inched up to $450,000, at which point the doctor
relented. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Ed Hardesty).
23 Perry Street
Four-story town house.
Asking: $2.2 million. Selling: $2 million.
Time on the market: three weeks.
LIKE STEALING FROM A CHURCH St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Waverly
Place house of worship that owned this house and seven others in the
vicinity for much of this century, sold 23 Perry Street, near West Fourth
Street, to a couple in 1983 for $350,000. The previous year, the church had
lost a three-year lawsuit filed by tenants who were miffed by its attempt
to raise their stabilized rents. For legal reasons, the couple converted
the building into a co-op. Still, they rented four of the five units to
tenants, one of whom stuck around for 15 more years, and kept just one
studio for themselves when they came into town from upstate Larchmont. They
also shared a common garden in back with the church and other residents of
the block. When they moved to Mt. Kisco, though, they became more
interested in the building’s earnings potential. An investor who will
gut-renovate the entire place into one private residence paid them $2
million. Broker: William B. May Real Estate (Jane Forman); Douglas Elliman
40 Leroy Street
Four-story town house.
Asking: $1.5 million. Selling: $1.4 million.
Time on the market: two weeks.
RENOVATING AROUND LEONARD BERNSTEIN’S STEINWAY. Late last summer,
broker Leslie Mason was hired to sell the Leroy Street town house of
Village antiques dealer James Ray, who died last spring. Around the same
time, professional partygiver Andy King learned that the rent on his Prince
Street penthouse–a 2,000-square-foot former architect’s office
that he had renovated into a state-of-the-art party locale–was going
to nearly triple. He, too, sought Ms. Mason’s real estate expertise.
She took him to a 13,000-square-foot town house on Waverly Place, and Mr.
King had visions of building several discrete units for himself and his
friends with a lobby-style chef’s kitchen and concierge desk. But the
deal quickly became mired in legal questions–foremost among them, what
to do with the rent- controlled tenants living in those
as-yet-nondiscrete units–and eventually Mr. King threw his hands up in
despair. Next stop: the Ray house near Bedford Street, which was still
crammed with the dealer’s personal collection. “I have a huge
fascination for antiques,” said Mr. King, “so I was sort of like
a child in a candy store. Every crack and crevice, every part of the house,
was filled with these goodies. I just wanted to buy everything in the
place.” After placing an official $1.4 million bid in the house, Mr.
King placed some bids on the antiques, too. As he breaks ground on a gut
renovation of his new acquisition, he’s still holding out for a
Steinway piano that Leonard Bernstein is rumored to have composed upon.
Broker: Douglas Elliman (Leslie Mason).