Former King of Cool, Gene Pressman, Grabs $1.9 Million Town House

Broker Calls the House ‘Mean’; Charlie Rose May Tag Along

Gene Pressman, the man who once dictated downtown style, has probably been a little less comfortable anywhere else, especially since he was ousted as co-chairman of Barneys last year. In mid-September, a month before Vanity Fair appointed him as a contributing editor, Mr. Pressman spent $1.916 million on a newly renovated West Village town house. The Federal-style building, which is located at 237 West 12th Street near Greenwich Avenue, has three bedrooms, three fireplaces, but no back yard.

Mr. Pressman was among a throng of well-known home shoppers in the far West Village during the late summer and fall: On Mr. Pressman’s new street alone, actor Oliver Platt has bought a house and talk-show host Charlie Rose is considering buying a penthouse.

According to real estate sources, Mr. Pressman began looking for a new place in earnest in early summer. He had been renting an apartment at 367 Bleecker Street, a five-story building near Charles Street, upstairs from Pierre Deux, the chichi Provençal décor store. Before that he lived with his ex-wife Bonnie Pressman in Larchmont, N.Y.

Perhaps frustrated by the creative process-all those years of trying to make Barneys fabulous and profitable-Mr. Pressman was not interested in a place that needed any attention. “He was looking for done,” said Lydia Rosengarten, a broker who represented Mr. Pressman in a failed deal last June, referring to a house that was freshly renovated.

“I showed him a house at Greenwich Mews,” she said, “on Greenwich Street in a cluster of newly renovated, newly built houses. He liked it and he made an all-cash offer on it, but it was several hundred thousand dollars below the asking [price].” Mr. Pressman offered $1.7 million, and the property eventually sold for about $1.995 million.

The former fashion exec’s $200,000-below-the-asking-price trick worked, however, on the small three-bedroom building he bought, which had been on the market for $2.1 million since May. A broker familiar with the town house, which last sold for $560,000 in 1996, described it as a restored 1880′s dwelling, with a planted roof garden, updated kitchen appliances, three fireplaces and central air-conditioning. The first floor contains a marble entryway, library and living room that accesses a patio area through French doors. The second floor contains two bedrooms and a shared bath; the master suite, which is adjoined by a kitchenette and laundry facility, is on the third floor.

“It’s a mean house, meaning no outdoor space,” said one broker who had seen the West 12th Street property while it was on the market. “It’s not a gracious house.”

Just as Mr. Pressman was finalizing his town house deal, actor Oliver Platt-who gave a terrific performance as a coke-snorting campaign aide in last year’s Bulworth -was making his own town house deal just across the street, on the same block but closer to West Fourth Street. His four-story building, which was priced at $2.675 million, was also investigated by actor couple Heather Graham and Ed Burns. Mr. Platt purchased the home for $2.625 million in late August.

“It had a lot of Old World charm, but needed a lot of renovation,” said a broker who saw Mr. Platt’s property. Another broker summed the place up as “needing everything. “

According to Mr. Platt’s publicist, Simon Halls, the actor has “ever-expanding family,” which currently consists of his wife, Camille Platt, and three young children. Before moving to West 12th Street, the 38-year-old Mr. Platt-whom Mr. Halls described as a “dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker”-was living in an East Village apartment he had owned for some years. At the moment, he is shooting Ready to Rumble, with David Arquette in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rose, who has lived for years in a rental apartment way up in 500 Park Avenue near 59th Street, is in discussions to buy a terraced apartment in the Waywest building, 380 west 12th Street near the Hudson River. Real estate sources said Mr. Rose had offered $1.5 million.

“It’s not a penthouse,” said Mr. Rose. “There’s something above it.” He said the time frame on a deal has yet to be determined. “I’m having conversations about a contract, but it’s less immediate.” He added that the figure in question was “lower” than $1.5 million.

Mr. Rose confirmed that he had recently abandoned his Park Avenue rental space in favor of another one on the Upper East Side. But that is probably only temporary. “I like downtown a lot,” he said, “I never go down there that I don’t feel, wow, you know, the Village. It’s a community; there’s a lot of energy there … But I’m not anywhere near a decision-it’s for the future.”

Mr. Pressman did not return calls for comment on his house in the Village.

UPPER WEST SIDE

311 West 97th Street

Two-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,400-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $425,000. Selling: $420,000.

Charges: $965.71; 58 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one year.

THE SPOOKY, UNRENOVATED CO-OP THAT WAS ON THE MARKET FOR 365 DAYS A year ago, the owners of this “classic-six” apartment-a six-room floor plan with two bedrooms-tried to sell it themselves for $475,000. Eventually, they succumbed to hiring a broker, who placed the sixth-floor apartment on the market for $449,000. Still, potential buyers came and went. Why? Because in the 15 or so years the sellers had lived there, they had done no renovations. All the startlingly beautiful prewar details remained, including glazed tile in the bathrooms, a Victorian shaving closet, glass transoms and moldings surrounding the window frames, but it was in desperate need of some updating. The kitchen, for example, had no counters, and the building, between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, has no doorman, no roof deck, no health club-just a common children’s playroom, a tiny elevator and a laundry room. The first people to make an offer backed out; they’d come by again to see the place and were spooked by a drunk outside the building. Then there was a second deal, which was abruptly bumped when a higher bidder surfaced. But that didn’t work out, either. Things did finally go to the contract phase, and the buyers were even interviewed by the board, but again (surprise) complications occurred, and they were rejected. In the meantime, three other apartments-all renovated-had sold in this building. This summer, a couple from Portland, Ore., came along-he’s a documentary filmmaker, she works in nonprofit- and they bought the apartment . Really. They plan to renovate. Broker: Wohlfarth & Associates (Kinnaird Fox Spector); Manhattan Apartments (Yolanda Chang).

134 West 95th Street

Two-bed, one-bath, 1,000-square-foot condo.

Asking: $450,000. Selling: $400,000.

Charges: $362. Taxes: $395.

Time on the market: 10 weeks.

BROKERS PROFIT, TOO This turn-of-the-century brownstone garden apartment was bought just six months ago by real estate broker Barbara Good, who renovated it and then put it back on the market. She chose a condo because that way there were no questions asked. In the end, she made a tidy profit. She described the apartment when she bought it as a “dump.” After the fix-up work was completed in June, she had a deal almost immediately. The single, self-employed woman had been renting, also on the West Side, but couldn’t find a place to buy in her price range-not in the 70′s or 80′s, certainly, which was where she hoped to be. So she ventured slightly farther north and got this place. It’s got a wood-burning fireplace, the garden she wanted (with a deck), refinished hardwood floors and an upgraded kitchen with granite counters. Broker: Halstead Property Company (Barbara Good).

WEST VILLAGE

1 Leroy Street

Four-bed, four-bath, 2,762-square-foot condo.

Asking: $ 1,599,000. Selling: $1,544,000.

Charges: $501. Taxes: $868.

Time on the market: 12 weeks.

COUPLE CAN KEEP A WHOLE FLOOR BETWEEN THEM This building, on the corner of Leroy and Bleecker streets, went up only a few months ago, but all of its six units (ranging from about $850,000 to $1.6 million) are sold. The buyers of this triplex, which occupies the fourth, fifth and six floors, are a banker and his wife. Since they have no children, they’ll have the whole big space (including a private roof deck) to themselves. Previously, they’d been renting a loft on Beach Street in TriBeCa. They saw about 10 apartments, all downtown, before grabbing this one. The penthouse has wide-plank oak floors, high-speed Internet access, large windows and a skylight on the top floor. The lower level has a bedroom and bathroom, and a master bedroom big enough to fit four king-size beds. The limestone master bathroom has a Jacuzzi, double sink and shower steam room. On the middle level is an eat-in kitchen with fancy appliances, including a $10,000 Garland stove; plus a washer-dryer, a living room with fireplace and a room that can be a study or a dining room. The top floor can be a living room space or another bedroom; there’s also another fireplace and access to the private terrace. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Tamir Shemesh); Corcoran Group (Wendy Sarasohn, Katie Johnson).

CARROLL GARDENS

350 President Street

Three-story, single-family town house.

Asking: $1,350,000. Selling: $1.26 million.

Time on the market: four months.

KIDS, THIS GREEN STUFF IS GRASS A decade ago, the sellers bought this wreck of a home on a landmark block in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and essentially rebuilt it, restoring some of its turn-of-the century details. They installed new plumbing, electricity, and floors, and tore down the four-car garage to build a two-car garage with a carriage house above. Although they intended to finish the carriage house, they never did, so they used it for storage. What they sold, finally, was a museum-quality home with front and rear gardens, formal dining room, finished basement, 13-foot-high ceilings on the parlor floor, skylights and five working fireplaces (one per bedroom and one each in the living and dining rooms), plus one just for decoration. Everything had been renovated in a who-cares-how-much-it-costs kind of way, right down to the doorknobs and mahogany-cabineted kitchen with Gagenot stove, Thermidor oven, Sub-Zero fridge, and ultraviolet-ray-protected windows (yes, there is such a thing). There’s also-get this-a security system equipped with burglar, motion, fire and carbon monoxide detectors. So why abandon such safety and splendor? The wife wanted to move to Connecticut. She used to work for The Wall Street Journal ; he’s a banker. The buyers are a couple with two children who sold their TriBeCa loft for a taste of Brooklyn life. Broker: Corcoran Group’s Brooklyn Landmark (Steven Gerber; Ann Doyle).