Just three years after they were secretly married at a Lower East Side synagogue, New York darlings Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker bought a quintessential West Village townhouse-also in secret. And in quintessential Sarah
Jessica Parker style-the actress has given scores of interviews about being on welfare as a child-the purchase was a bargain. In April 2000, at the height of the real estate market, the couple paid $2.995 million for a three-story, 20-foot-wide townhouse on one of the prettiest blocks of the West Village.
“They got a great deal,” said one broker familiar with the sale. “She’d been looking for seven years. She knew what was good.” The broker said the couple made an offer on the house about a week after it came on the market with broker Susan Sears of Bascom & Sears.
In an interview a few months after the purchase, Ms. Parker described herself as “inconsistently frugal! I guess I am frugal, but I never deprive myself of a good pair of shoes!” In the same interview, Ms. Parker said she and her husband would have to be in the same place at the same time in order to start a family. It seems they were in May when, a few weeks after Mr. Broderick debuted in Mel Brooks’ The Producers on Broadway and Ms. Parker was about to debut in the third season of her HBO series, Sex and the City , the couple started renovations on their new home.
Through the winter, the house sat vacant while menus and circulars piled up at the front door and neighbors got nervous that the couple might neglect to shovel their portion of the sidewalk. According to reports, the couple is living in another Village townhouse, one that Mr. Broderick already owned when they met. But about a month ago, a construction crew arrived at the new place. “It was really in terrible shape,” said one source. “It needs all new mechanics.”
According to city records, the couple will spend $275,000 to redo the plumbing and wiring in the house. But they’re just getting started. Sources say that Mr. Broderick and Ms. Parker bought the house primarily for its Old World details, and those will be preserved: The floor plan will be left intact, as will the moldings. Part of the renovation involves replacing a stoop in front of the house that had been torn down years ago. Architect Richard Sammons is listed on the work permit; Mr. Sammons is a partner in the New York architectural firm Fairfax & Sammons Architects, which specializes in traditional architecture. The renovation is expected to take another year.
Of course, like everything else Ms. Parker does, on- or off-screen, her stoop rebuilding has set off a trend. In the past few months, the local community board has approved another similar project on her street. A resident of the block said that several other residents are restoring their ironwork.
king of pop’s house sells to king of debt
While brokers complain that there are more townhouses sitting on the market right now than at any other time in memory, 4 East 74th Street, the house that Michael Jackson lived in while recording his last album, was scooped up by Marc Lasry, a managing director of Amroc Investments Inc., on June 1 for about $15 million.
Mr. Lasry, 40, trades in distressed debt and, with his wife, Cathy Cohen, endowed a Center for Holocaust Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., their alma mater, in 1999. The center, called Lasry House, includes seminar rooms, offices, an exhibition room and a library of nearly 3,000 volumes.
Mr. Lasry said he signed a contract to buy the six-story townhouse-which Mr. Jackson rented for about six months in 1999 for $75,000 a month, and where Marc Chagall lived after arriving in New York in 1941-for under the asking price of $15 million, but would not give the exact figure. He said that he, his wife and their five children would be moving into their new home by September. On May 29, he put his current home, a 12-room apartment at 895 Park Avenue, on the market for $7.75 million with Amy Tucker of Sloan Square realty. (They bought the apartment in 1994 for about $2.5 million.)
Fortunately for the Lasrys, their new townhouse doesn’t need any work. The 25-foot-wide, 12,000-square-foot house was built in 1898 for Steven L. Stetson, whose family was one of the more successful 19th-century American hat manufacturers. Last February, a couple bought the townhouse, located just east of Fifth Avenue, for $13.25 million and sank $1 million into sprucing up the property, renovating it for the second time in five years. It has an unusual oak staircase with railings that bow out in the hallways, stained glass windows, an elevator and 11 fireplaces. The kitchen has a six-burner restaurant stove, stainless steel Viking dishwashers and a table for eight that faces gardens behind Fifth Avenue. There’s also a rooftop terrace where Mr. Jackson was often spotted playing with kids.
“At the point of the contract being signed, it was the best house on the market,” said Jed Garfield of Leslie J. Garfield, of Mr. Lasry’s deal. “It’s a terrific house. It’s big, it gets light on three sides.”
In September, the house went on the market for $20 million-a price tag that was slashed to $15 million in January. Mr. Lasry’s broker, Diana Tawgin of William B. May Real Estate, didn’t return calls.
UPPER EAST SIDE
WHERE MEG MET DENNIS, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT When word started to spread that Meg Ryan was going to sell the 12th-floor Fifth Avenue apartment that she bought with her estranged husband Dennis Quaid for $3.1 million in 1997, brokerage owner Barbara Corcoran sent Ms. Ryan flowers with the note, “Meg, when can we show your apartment?” But to no avail. On May 30, Ms. Ryan’s seven-room co-op near 94th Street went on the market for $7.2 million with Anne Curran of Sotheby’s.
“That’s a fair asking price,” said a broker. “All the bedrooms face the park.” And the 3,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bath apartment with views of Central Park is in mint condition, brokers say.
The following week, Ms. Ryan-who wrapped filming on Kate & Leopold on May 25-checked out a townhouse on Barrow Street in the West Village with a $2.995 million price tag, as well as a $3.75 million loft on the seventh floor of 124 Hudson Street, a new condo development in Tribeca where model Carol Alt purchased an apartment last summer. Brokers said Ms. Ryan was shopping with broker Steve McRae of Sotheby’s, who was unavailable for comment. Ms. Ryan’s publicist, Annett Wolf of Wolf Kasteler Public Relations, didn’t return calls.
860 Fifth Avenue
Two-bed, 2-1/2-bath, 1,800-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $1.4875 million. Selling: $1.425 million.
Charges: $2,100; 50 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: eight months.
DESIGNER DEMOLITION When a financial consultant in his 90’s died about a year ago, he left behind this apartment, a remnant of a different era. Decorated by his wife, a well-known designer in the 1920’s, the apartment was filled with Old World details: silk fabric on the walls in the entryway, an oval dining room with marble floors, a powder room with an antique sink and toilet, a carved marble mantle around a non-working fireplace in the living room. “It was like walking back in time,” said the listing broker, Serena Kaplan of Bellmarc Realty. “It gave you a sense of elegance”-albeit a shabby elegance; everything in the place needs to be redone. Which is just what Ms. Kaplan said the new owner is up to now. “He won’t do major structural renovations, but it really does need to be renovated in order to live in it,” she said. Wendy Sarasohn of the Corcoran Group represented the buyer.
188 East 76th Street (the Siena)
Two-bed, 2-1/2-bath, 1,407-square-foot condo.
Asking: $995,000. Selling: $995,000.
Charges: $1,000; 40 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: eight weeks.
INSIDER TEASING The estate trying to sell this apartment was approached by a member of the condo’s board, who said he might be interested in buying the two-bedroom apartment as quarters for his maid. He asked the executors of the estate to wait a little while before putting it on the market, and they did. “It was a great layout. It had all outside exposures-a lot of [the apartments in the building] face the back,” said broker Dolly Lenz of Douglas Elliman. “And the building is fabulous. The president of the board is a genius; he keeps that building immaculate.” By the time the board member got around to saying thanks, but no thanks (he decided on much more modest quarters), the apartment had been “tarted up” and was in much better shape for viewing. At the open house, “a hundred people came through, because it was a good price-and 30 wanted it,” said Ms. Lenz. But only one-an investment banker with a small family-was willing to pay all cash up front. He had a deal within two hours.
UPPER WEST SIDE
131 Riverside Drive
Two-bed, two-bath, 2,000-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $1.395 million. Selling: $1.3 million.
Charge: $1,292; 46 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: four months.
THE LONG, COLD SUMMER This apartment should have been an easy sell, but like a lot of properties on the market now, the interest in it never reached a boil. It had recently been renovated-“one of the prettiest renovations I’ve ever seen,” said listing broker James Perez of the Halstead Property Group-and it still had lots of original details, 10-foot ceilings, a washer and dryer, and a small entry foyer that leads into a large reception gallery. As for the building, it was built in 1904 and has an exercise room, a children’s playroom and a full-time doorman. “Everybody commented on how nice the staff is,” added Mr. Perez. But the place just wouldn’t move. Mr. Perez showed it to 141 people over the four months it was on the market, and watched three deals fall apart at different stages. The folks who finally bought the place signed a contract two months after first seeing it. Said Mr. Perez: “There was a fair amount of market uncertainty at the time, but when the [buyers] saw the lack of product out there, they came back.”
142 East 16th Street
One-bedroom, one-bath, 750-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $349,000. Selling: $345,000.
Charges: $915; 51 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: four months.
THE REAL WORLD: GRAMERCY A recently married couple, both of whom work for MTV, were looking to buy their first apartment together. It’s not that they were looking for the kind of place their employer sets up seven strangers in every year or so, but they did have certain criteria. Specifically, they wanted to find something downtown with outdoor space, and they needed a pet-friendly building because of their two miniature Chihuahuas. They landed this apartment, between Irving Place and Third Avenue, which has a balcony large enough to put a table and chairs on. They will do some work in the kitchen before moving in, and will probably fix up the bathrooms next. The postwar building does have a funky feel. Tony Rotolo of Bellmarc Realty described the entrance as having a “strange Asian décor. Some people don’t like it, others get into it,” he said. The MTV buyers thought it was cool. Potential housewarming gift: Maybe their bosses will let them raid the Jane Street house where The Real World ‘s next installment is being filmed for quirky housewares.