A year after tying the knot with former soap actress Rachel Miner, teenage thespian Macaulay Culkin and his bride will finally be home alone. The 19-year-old film star–who has been on hiatus since 1994′s Richie Rich , co-starring John Larroquette–recently spent $1.725 million for a full-floor, 5,200-square-foot loft at 704 Broadway, a condo building near East Fourth Street where David Bowie once owned a home. Real estate records show that the deal was finalized in mid-August.
Until his June 1998 nuptials with Ms. Miner, Mr. Culkin, who is one of seven children, had been living in the apartment of his mother, Patricia Brentrup, at 124 West 60th Street. Mr. Culkin grew up in that apartment, and four of his siblings still lived there when it was destroyed after an electric radiator set the family Christmas tree on fire last December. Ms. Brentrup was sued for leaving the apartment door open after fleeing the apartment, an act that city officials said contributed to the deaths of four people in the building and prompted a citywide debate about the importance of landlords installing sprinkler systems in their buildings–a cost-creating course that developers like Donald Trump, who personally lobbied City Council Speaker Peter Vallone on the issue, would prefer not to take. After the fire, the family moved in with the newlyweds.
Despite the family’s reputation for being menacing neighbors–they were reportedly the source of many complaints over the years in their old building–the couple selling this apartment was relieved to meet the family’s main breadwinner and his wife. “They turned out to be very reasonable people,” said the apartment’s seller, a Manhattan-based attorney named Carol Schrager. And they saw the deal through, to the relief of broker Emily Tannen, who drew up eight ultimately failed contracts for this apartment during the last two years to, among others, an antique collector, a doctor, a young socialite who wanted the space to house his guitar collection, and a European man who, according to Ms. Tannen, “said he had an incurable illness and did not have long to live … [and] wanted to buy the loft for his girlfriend who was a model and needed lots of space for her clothes.” (That particular buyer, who wanted to pay for the condominium with a suitcase filled with small bills, never signed his contract.)
“I’d be in the middle of a trial,” recalled Ms. Schrager, “and I’d have to rush back to my office … and I’d do it–I’d get them the contract, and they’d just peter out.” According to Ms. Schrager, Mr. Culkin and his wife were much easier to do business with than the apartment’s other suitors.
The apartment, which was on the market for $1.75 million at the time the actors saw it, contains three bedrooms and two baths, plus a big L-shaped space encompassing the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Originally the headquarters of the Socialist Workers’ Party, the apartment was rented in 1974 to Bruce Gitlin, a metal-fabricating factory owner who converted it from an essentially raw space to a livable apartment. Ten years later, when Mr. Gitlin was facing eviction from a landlord who wanted to sell the building, he hired Ms. Schrager as his real estate attorney. Not only did she win him the right to stay and buy the loft, she joined him there as his wife in 1986. This year, the couple moved with their 8-year-old daughter Sarah to an Upper East Side town house.
Since the wedding, the Culkins–and the rest of the newly homeless brood–have been living in a penthouse in the West 60′s, where they ought to stay until they give their new digs a facelift. “You know when you walk into a place and say, ‘God, this place needs to be done over,’” said one broker familiar with the couple’s new apartment. “It was one of those.” Such a sobering prospect may have been the reason rocker David Bowie sold his never-moved-into ninth-floor loft to software executive Michael Odell for $1.85 million last February.
ISN’T LIFE SWELL FOR CYNTHIA ROWLEY IN HER NEW $1.2 MILLION LOFT? Life is indeed swell for Cynthia Rowley. There’s a baby (a 6-month-old daughter), a new book ( Swell: A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life ) and a new home. In September, Ms. Rowley paid $1.2 million for a swanky 2,650-square-foot loft on Broadway near Franklin Street.
The fashion designer and her architect-artist husband had been living in Ossining, N.Y., and renting a small place in the city. Now, when they’re in town, they’re swimming in space in TriBeCa. The loft features a first-rate kitchen (cherry cabinets, Sub-Zero fridge, microwave oven, dishwasher, granite countertops), a fireplace, 12-foot-high ceilings, oak floors and french doors that open onto a 900-square-foot “entertaining” terrace; there’s also a second terrace, just because. The building is newly zoned as residential–it’s a former office furniture warehouse that underwent major renovations and an additional six stories for conversion. Ms. Rowley was unavailable for comment. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Patricia Dugan, Peter Rodis, Robert Gross).
UPPER EAST SIDE
360 East 72nd Street
Three-bed, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $875,000. Selling: $830,000.
Charges: $1,277; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two weeks.
THEY HAVE NO LIFE OUTSIDE THE 10TH FLOOR. A lawyer and a doctor had lived here happily since the building opened in 1964, raising two children. Now that the kids are grown, they decided it was time for a change of life style and bought a loft downtown–how hip. Lucky for them, some neighbors squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment were looking for more space and didn’t want to leave the building–or the floor, in fact. They could have waited for any number of apartments to become available in this huge building, with its 35 floors and six elevators. But they wanted to remain on the 10th floor–the only floor in the building with 9 1/2-foot-high ceilings (a whole foot higher than those on any other floor). The apartment has an enclosed balcony, renovated bathrooms, good light and a kitchen that could use some fixing up, which the buyers plan to do. Broker: Corcoran Group (Charles Russell).
799 Park Avenue
Three-bed, three-bath, 2,000-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $1.175 million. Selling: $1.21 million.
Charges: $2,065; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one week.
THE WALLS HAVE FEELERS. This postwar building, with a 24-hour doorman, a parking garage and a common roof deck, is nothing special. And there are other apartments in this city that would do more for you. But it all comes down to location. And this apartment, on Park Avenue near 75th Street offers … ultra-smooth walls. The seller is a widow who was rather fanatical about walls, so she had extra sheet rock put up in every room: the place is very quiet as a result. The buyers are semi-retired shrinks who write books and lecture; they’re also, by the way, friends of Mayor Giuliani (so don’t mess with them). They sold their apartment–a Park Avenue duplex–because they wanted a single-level apartment. But they didn’t want to leave Park Avenue. The buyers are living in a hotel as their new home undergoes various renovations. Broker: Sumitomo Real Estate (Cecilia Serrano); Douglas Elliman (Debbie Solomon).
240 West 23rd Street (Arcadia)
One-bed, one-bath, 1,000-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $439,000. Selling: $425,000.
Charges: $645; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two weeks.
ADVERTISER LIBERATES CHELSEA CO-OP FROM SAN FRANCISCAN WEB SITE DESIGNER. The buyer is a single guy who works in advertising. He previously owned a co-op on West 102nd Street, but wanted to be downtown. Now he’s cool and Chelsea, happily settled in this place with 10-foot-high ceilings; exposed brick in the living room; a walk-in closet with a built-in chest of drawers; a big, open kitchen with a dishwasher and two ovens; abundant light and courtyard views. The Arcadia was built in 1930; it’s small (only 21 units), self-managed (meaning no doorman) and has a common roof garden and laundry in the basement. The seller is a Web site designer who has been living in San Francisco for the past few years, so his apartment needed, how shall we say, a bit of freshening up. But no matter: The advertising fellow saw the apartment on the second day it was shown and made an offer. There was already a contract on his 102nd Street place, so he needed to move fast, and did. Broker: Corcoran Group (Margaretta Douglas).
Fifth Avenue near 11th Street
Three-bed, two-bath, 1,500-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $925,000. Selling: $855,000.
Charges: $1,289. 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: nine months.
THEY’RE BUILDING A PORTAL INTO JULIA ROBERTS’ APARTMENT. Sometimes the answer to all your problems lies directly beneath you. And in this case–the sale of a co-op on lower Fifth Avenue–that answer is not Julia Roberts, one of the building’s newest residents. The sellers of this seventh-floor apartment decided to follow the have-kids, hit-the-road-to-the-suburbs path. But their apartment, which lacked expansive views, was not selling, lovely as it is. As soon as they lowered the price, a buyer rose right up in the elevator. A couple of investment bankers just downstairs decided to buy it and make a duplex. The apartment they’ve purchased has an eat-in kitchen, stained glass in the bathrooms, and various original, prewar details (the Stanford White-designed building went up in 1903). The buyers are new to the parenting game; now there’s plenty of room for everyone! Broker: Corcoran Group (Robert Manzari and Bonnie McCartney).
576 Fourth Street
Three-story town house.
Asking: $1.1 million. Selling: $1.085 million.
Time on the market: two weeks.
ONE MORE TOWN HOUSE TO CRY OVER. You’ll kick yourself after you read about this place. A five-bedroom 1890 limestone house was gorgeously renovated (including new kitchen and bathrooms) by a married couple with no children who left it in magnificent condition. The dining room has oak paneling and beamed ceilings; there is elaborate plasterwork in the foyer and parlor; a center staircase; finished English basement; a library; central air-conditioning; and a landscaped backyard garden. Oh, and try not to bump your head on the chandeliers. After four years, the sellers are moving to upstate New York for a taste of country life. The buyer, an international tax attorney at Baker & McKenzie, is single but (sorry) engaged. He had been renting in Manhattan, but, after just walking through this place, he made an offer immediately. Broker: Brooklyn’s Corcoran Landmark (Minette Stokes).