By the time Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York finally hits the theaters Christmas Day, it will be leading man Daniel Day-Lewis’ first screen appearance in five years. He’s used that time to add to his own gang: In late May, Mr. Lewis’ wife Rebecca-daughter of Arthur Miller-gave birth to their second son. Now that they’re a foursome, it’s apparently time to shed their two-bedroom apartment and go off in search of new digs.
In late June, Mr. Lewis, 45, sold his co-op at 140 Thompson Street, which last listed for $1.25 million, a source familiar with the deal told The Observer . Through a spokesperson, the media-shy Mr. Lewis declined to comment, as did the Corcoran Group broker who handled the sale.
Mr. Lewis’ 1,600-square-foot apartment was modest by Hollywood’s Soho standards, with two bedrooms and an open kitchen. But the price is right-with a maintenance tag of just $1,200 a month-and the place was said to be in exquisite condition.
In the upcoming Gangs , which drew raves at the Cannes Film Festival this June when Mr. Scorsese screened a 20-minute trailer, Mr. Lewis will star alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. He plays Bill the Butcher, the gang ruler of the “Five Fingers,” as the lower Manhattan slums not far from his Thompson Street digs were once called.
Dune Road Construction a Shore Thing for Rudin
Environmental concerns may have convinced the Southampton Town Board to enact a five-month moratorium on Atlantic coastline construction last week, but commercial real-estate magnate Bill Rudin will probably get an exemption from the clampdown, according to town officials sympathetic to property owners’ rights.
The Southampton Town Board voted 3-2-Democrats for, Republicans against-to enact the moratorium on oceanfront construction, which went into effect July 17. Mr. Rudin, who owns a beachfront house on Dune Road in Bridgehampton and is in the process of filing a permit for construction, spoke out against the moratorium at the hearing, but, according to a report in the East Hampton Star , was assured later by committee members that he would likely be granted an exemption from the building ban.
“I just had a conversation with Mr. Rudin’s attorney, and it appears he is exempt,” board member Dennis Suskind told The Observer .
In 1997, Mr. Rudin sued the town for the right to erect a large series of shore-hardening devices to protect his shoreline from erosion. The town settled, letting him go ahead with the project. But they were such an eyesore to beach-roamers that the town commissioned a study to examine the effects that the devices were having on the beach. The study concluded that devices like Mr. Rudin’s were in some cases narrowing the shoreline and in others eroding the sand foundations of neighboring houses-leading to last week’s moratorium hearing.
Things there got contentious. Democratic Council member Carolyn Zenk, a Hampton Bays environmental attorney, charged Mr. Rudin with being the individual most directly responsible for the enactment of the ban in the first place.
“I said to Mr. Rudin, ‘I want to thank you very much, because you are single-handedly the individual most responsible for bringing about the coastal moratorium you’re protesting today.”
Mr. Suskind told The Observer that he thought Ms. Zenk’s comments were out of line, but Ms. Zenk countered that “there is a time for righteous indignation, and this is it. I don’t care to apologize to Mr. Rudin.”
Regarding the issue at hand, however-namely Mr. Rudin’s exemption for construction on his Dune Road house-Ms. Zenk said she would weigh his case on its merits.
“As much as I rebuke him, I’m going to consider his case on the merits,” she said. “If it doesn’t do any good to include him in the moratorium, I would let him out. But if it looks like he should be kept in the moratorium because something he’s building should be scaled down, I would do that as well.”
Mr. Rudin, who is waiting out the storm at his other Bridgehampton residence on Ocean Road, declined comment through a spokesperson.
Mr. Suskind said that the moratorium provides exemptions for property owners who have already begun wading through approvals from various town agencies for their beachfront construction.
“It’s a question of fairness,” Mr. Suskind said. “If you’ve spent four years working on something-if you’re rounding third and about to step on home, and now we say you have to wait five months-that’s just not fair.”
Upper East Side
360 East 88th Street (the Leighton House) Two-and-a-half-bedroom, three-bathroom condo. Asking: $900,000. Selling: $852,500. Charges: $870. Taxes: $959. Time on the market: two weeks.
SECOND CAREER FOR GRANDMA The buyers of this condo, both in their early 40’s, are a pretty high-powered couple: He’s an attending physician and assistant professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and she’s vice president and corporate council of a large city bank. So when they got the news that a child was on the way, they hired a part-time nanny and started looking for bigger digs. They found a good building-the Leighton House, at First Avenue, which has a reputation for being family-friendly, with the doormen hosting Halloween and Christmas parties for the kids every year. Then the expectant mom’s own mother, in retirement in Florida, piped up; she was longing to return to the city. So they struck a deal, and Grandma’s coming up to help out the nanny. She’ll be living in a one-bedroom apartment that the couple bought eight floors down in the Leighton House from the 1,500-square-foot, two-and-a-half-bedroom place they’re getting for themselves and the baby. “In the world today, people love a full-time nanny,” said their sales agent, Renée Bross of Ashforth Warburg. “But there’s nothing like having a parent in the building … and they all have their privacy.”
205 East 63rd Street Three-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op. Asking: $875,000. Selling: $875,000. Maintenance: $1,963; 42 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: four months.
GOOD NEIGHBORS Sometimes brokers have mixed feelings about getting a listing. When Mora Israel heard that her neighbors, one of whom is an oncologist at a private New York Hospital, were moving out of her Upper East Side co-op building, she didn’t want to see them leave-even though it was her job to sell the place. After all, when her pocket poodle suffered a heat stroke, the good doctor came to the rescue. “He started to massage the dog; he got him going again,” said Ms. Israel. “I believe he would have given him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if it were necessary.” In the wake of Sept. 11, however, the doctor and his wife, who owns a sports-accessory business, decided it was time to move their three young daughters-the oldest of whom is in kindergarten at Dalton-to the suburbs. The new buyers recently moved in with their young boy and upgraded the floor from parquet to a dark strip-planking, and spruced up the windows in the bathroom and kitchen to open up the north, south and east city views. Residents in the building are already prospecting to see how their new neighbors-he works for a hedge fund, she’s in the fashion public-relations business-can put their skills to work in the name of neighborliness, too. “He’s great with numbers,” Ms. Israel said of the new buyer. “He would be wonderful to have on the co-op board.”
415 East 52nd Street Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op. Asking: $865,000. Selling: $840,000. Maintenance: $1,743.01; 52 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: six months.
CONTROL FREAK The seller of this midtown co-op did so much unwelcome “hovering” around prospective buyers that her real-estate agent called her “the hovercraft.” “Every time I had to show the apartment, she was hovering over my shoulder,” said Insignia Douglas Elliman sales agent Carol Miller. “Several buyers couldn’t stand her being so close and just rushed through the apartment. That’s one of the reasons it hung on the market for so long.” The seller, who owned a textile-importing company with her husband, apparently has been known to make a habit of the practice. Ms. Miller represented her when she bought the 1,450-square-foot apartment, and the seller wanted to be in control of every aspect of the sale back then, too. “She probably told her mother how to deliver her,” said Ms. Miller. Luckily for the seller, Ms. Miller found a sweetheart of a buyer in a retired single woman in her 70’s. She was looking for more room to entertain her grandchildren, and she loved the unobstructed city views of this 14th-floor apartment. “Everything was fine and dandy with her,” said Ms. Miller.
325 East 17th Street Four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom, five-story townhouse. Asking: $1.795 million. Selling: $1.795 million. Taxes: $6,500. Time on the market: four weeks.
SLIM PICKINGS Corcoran’s director of townhouses, Anne Snee, said that at first, she couldn’t get buyers to look at this townhouse when they learned it was only 14 feet wide. “It was a jewel of a Victorian house, with lots of rich details and ornate molding,” said Ms. Snee. “But I couldn’t get anyone to come and see the place after telling them it was a 14-footer.” Not only that, but the house was one of only two townhouses on a block otherwise populated by cold, impersonal buildings owned by the Beth Israel Medical Center. But brokers started bringing clients in, and soon they were getting swept away by the 1851 townhouse’s original moldings and detail, high ceilings, 10 fireplaces, hardwood floors, three balconies and private garden. “In the end, everybody was coming out of the woodwork for this place,” said Ms. Snee. “We had a bidding war.” Ms. Snee found her buyers in a young couple in their late 30’s who had one child and worked in the design industry. They had been displaced from lower Manhattan after Sept. 11, and Ms. Snee recalls their saying to her, “Thank you for saving us from Ground Zero.”
Judge Lets Co-op Update Façade, But Not Everyone is Smiling
It’s a trend not likely to return from its 60’s netherworld on the Upper East Side, even as peasant shirts and scrappy jeans dominate the street below: blue bricks. But that’s the defining characteristic of the façade of the building at the northeast corner of 65th Street and Madison Avenue. The cladding was actually popular from the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s, but now the co-op owners will finally get to replace it with something a little less dated.
The co-op’s board of directors learned in February that decades of water damage had left 40 to 65 percent of the blue bricks cracked and poised to crumble on pedestrians. Unlike the porous red bricks, blue bricks are coated with a thick glaze that traps water runoff. When that water freezes, it puts pressure on the bricks, weakening their attachment to the underlying concrete wall.
Consulting an engineer, the board concluded that re-skinning the entire building in red bricks-at a cost of up to $3.5 million over roughly two years-would not only be more economical than trying to replace only the damaged blue bricks, but it would also prevent future problems.
But not everyone was so anxious to make the change at the co-op building at 27 East 65th Street. Elliott Sutton, the owner of the building’s first-floor commercial units-whose tenants include Ferrier, a women’s clothing store called Vertigo, an optician’s shop and a garage-filed suit against the co-op, claiming that the unsightly scaffolding and renovations would do his business more harm than the dated brick. Mr. Sutton had brought in his own engineer, who concluded that only 20 percent of the bricks needed replacing, and that it would be much more time- and cost-effective to only replace those, rather than reface the entire building-but that would leave the building blue.
The judge disagreed with Mr. Sutton and on June 25 ruled in favor of the co-op-a decision that Mr. Sutton’s lawyer, Lowette Fielding, has vowed to appeal.
“In my opinion, it’s an effort by the co-op board of directors to sell to the shareholders the necessity of changing the building to white or red brick by engineering it that it must be done that way,” she said.
As for the residents of the building, there’s no telling how much more the apartments will be worth when the building’s distinguishing mark-there are only a few other blue-brick buildings in the city, mostly in the East 20’s-is gone.
And the restaurant? The co-op’s lawyer, Aaron Shmulewitz of the firm Reed Smith, rejected Ms. Fielding’s and Mr. Sutton ‘s claim that the first floor would lose business as a direct result of the extended renovations.
“That’s speculative in the best-case scenario,” he said. “How can anyone prove that a restaurant’s business dropped off x percent because a [scaffolding] was up? Maybe people stopped liking the food.”
The Observer visited Ferrier last week and asked its general manger, Cyril Trégoat, whether he had noticed any drop-off in business as a result of the now four-month-old scaffolding.
“Maybe a little, maybe not-it’s hard to calculate,” said Mr. Tregoat. “But we asked for extra lighting, and they gave it to us, and we asked them to raise the scaffolding higher so people could see the restaurant’s sign, and they did that, too.”