Howard’s Hut

Howard Stern has officially ascended from the ranks of Hamptons renters. Recently, the shock jock signed a contract to buy the Amagansett house he’s been renting for $5.5 million.

To hear his on-air cohort tell it, the house was already well broken in. During the July 22 broadcast of Mr. Stern’s show, “Stuttering John” Melendez told a story about staying at the Amagansett home and becoming so aroused by his boss’ romp in the bedsheets with his girlfriend Beth that he and his wife were inspired to have a go at it. When Mr. Melendez asked about the “boom, boom” he heard emanating from the master suite, Mr. Stern joked that it was probably just his nose hitting the wall.

Sources close to the deal confirmed that a closing is imminent on Mr. Stern’s two-story shingle-style residence on Shipwreck Drive, a small dead-end road in one of the East End’s posher hamlets. It’s about 80 miles east of where the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” grew up-in Roosevelt, N.Y., a small town in Nassau County. His Amagansett spread, which sits directly on the ocean, has six bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, two fireplaces, a one-car garage, and is surrounded by 1.7 acres of land. The house’s traditional feel is the work of local architect Frank Hollenbeck (Robert De Niro’s onetime designer).

Mr. Stern also owns a penthouse condo in the Millennium Tower on West 67th Street near Broadway.

Mr. Stern has made no secret about his house hunt, giving his radiolisteners-andTVaudience, on the E! channel-regular updates on the process. On Aug. 19, Mr. Stern played down a recent New York Post story that had him checking out a $19 million Rafael Viñoly–designed East Hampton mansion. Mr. Viñoly, the architectural powerhouse behind a semifinalist design for the World Trade Center site, didn’t impress the famously under-endowed radio personality, who called the house “gross” and said he wouldn’t give $100,000 for the place.

Fashion publicist Desiree Gruber offered two words for why she and her husband, actor Kyle MacLachlan, bought a new $1.35 million condo at the Chelsea Mercantile: “Whole Foods,” she told The Observer , referring to the Whole Foods Market at the base of their building. “Of course it’s a full-service building, and I can walk to work, but that grocery store-that threw us over the top! It’s amazing … it’s like therapy! You feel like you’re really taking care of yourself. It doesn’t compare to going to the corner deli.”

Late last year, she and Mr. MacLachlan closed on the $1.35 million, 1,934-square-foot mint-condition condo on the northwest corner of a mid-level floor in the Seventh Avenue building. A large room can be configured as a combined living and dining room, and the kitchen has granite counters and cherry cabinets. The two and a half bathrooms have limestone bathtubs.

A Washington State native, Mr. MacLachlan made his film debut opposite Sting in David Lynch’s 1984 cult classic, Dune . He went on to star in several more Lynch projects, such as Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks -and squired Gina Gershon around in the perhaps unintentionally Lynchian midnight-marquee movie, Showgirls .

Ms. Gruber was a top fashion publicist at Rogers & Cowan before striking off on her own in 1999 to create her own company, Full Picture. Her clients include Heidi Klum and Frederique van der Wal. Other notables in the mammoth Chelsea building, at 252 Seventh Avenue, include Penélope Cruz and New York chef and Food Network personality Bobby Flay.

upper west side

KRISTIN CHENOWETH TAPS HER SLIPPERS, BUYS TRUMP PLACE CONDO

KristinChenoweth,theTony Award–winning stage and screen actress, has signed a contract on a small condo at Trump Place, the Upper West Side development project on Riverside Boulevard.

For Ms. Chenoweth, who next month begins rehearsals for Wicked , a spin-off of The Wizard of Oz in which she’ll play Glinda, the move transports her into star-quality real estate not a moment too soon.

The actress, whose face will have more recognition among the hoi polloi after next week’s airing of the new ABC TV-movie version of The Music Man , had been living one of those New York rental fairy tales before she made the move.

“I’m at West 107th Street right now, and it’s $650 a month, rent-stabilized,” she told The Observer . “That’s why it’s been so hard to leave.”

But after she plays Marian the Librarian alongside Matthew Broderick in Music Man , her family persuaded her that security would have to play a bigger role in her real-estate decisions than price.

“I kept on being nagged by Dad to ‘get out, get out, get out,'” she told The Observer . “There comes a point where you just need that feeling of safety and security.”

Ms. Chenoweth gets a doorman and security services for the $495,000 she paid for her one-bedroom, one-bathroom unit on a low floor. It’s a relatively down-to-earth affair, but Ms. Chenoweth made sure there was enough room to indulge her musical yearnings.

“There’s an area for my upright Yamaha piano,” she said.

Dennis Mangone of Insignia Douglas Elliman had the exclusive listing on the apartment.

Ms. Chenoweth first gained widespread attention in 1999 when she won the Best Featured Actress Tony for her role as Sally in the Broadway musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown . In 2001, she starred in her own NBC sitcom, Kristin , but the network pulled the plug after airing only seven episodes. Since then, she’s kept up a steady touring schedule; in March, she sang for President Bush at the historic Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

The logistics of such a jet-set lifestyle made it all the more important for Ms. Chenoweth to buy a place of her own-especially since she eschews many of the full-service bells and whistles that her fellow rising starlets go in for. Specifically, having her own washer-dryer was “a biggie.”

“I tour a lot, and the night before I leave there’s always one last load I need to do, and I can’t do it [at my old apartment.]”

As for decorations, Ms. Chenoweth said she’d love to buy an “ornate, unique music stand” and perhaps hang up some of her autographed show posters.

And maybe, when her routine becomes a little more predictable, she’ll get a dog. Also, she’d like to find a way to keep her Tony Award safe-but not necessarily on display.

“I’m not into that,” she explained.

greenwich village

THECATBIRDSEAT

Thanks to a spectacular string of critical and commercial successes over the past several years, Philip Seymour Hoffman has found himself at the top of the heap in the independent-film world. It’s perhaps fitting, then, that Mr. Hoffman, an actor’s actor, now finds himself atop an independent theater in Greenwich Village. Late last summer, Mr. Hoffman purchased a $1.4 million penthouse condo in a building that sits on a small but popular playhouse in the West Village.

Mr. Hoffman, who in 2002 alone had featured or starring roles in 25th Hour , Punch-Drunk Love , Red Dragon and Love Liza , can now survey the underground acting scene from his apartment’s 500-square-foot wraparound terrace. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom unit has a 12-foot ceiling and French doors leading out to the terrace. The 1,200-square-foot condo is only blocks away from the place Mr. Hoffman nourished his acting roots-New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. It’s also in the city where he got his first big break.

“I was working in the prepared-foods section of a deli when I was cast in [ Scent of a Woman ],” he once told an interviewer. “I’ve never had a non-acting job since. That’s amazing.”

Through a spokesperson, Mr. Hoffman declined to comment on his purchase.

upper east side

1095 Park Avenue

Two-bedroom, three-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $2.995 million.

Selling: $2.995 million.

Maintenance: $2,485; 38 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three weeks.

ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVED Wherever you are in New York, if you live on a block long enough, you get attached-especially when that block is many, many floors below your living-room window. So when this couple returned to New York after spending years in Europe, they lost no time checking out a seven-room prewar apartment that was right across the street from the co-op building where they had lived the last time around. They walked in and, as brokers are so fond of saying, fell right in love. Of course, it figured: “It was the same apartment number that they had lived in when they were last in New York,” said their broker on the deal, Suzanne Sealy, senior vice president at William B. May. “It seemed like it was just meant to be.” The sellers had raised their family there, but now were empty-nesters, ready to move on. The apartment has classic prewar detailing, high ceilings and gets lots of sun.

midtown east

345 East 56th Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $460,000. Selling: $440,000

Maintenance: $1,050;

50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

SMOKE-FILLED ROOM When a marketer for a big American tobacco company in his early 30’s decided to leave behind his $2,500-a-month rental and buy a place, he called in a few friends: his sister, who flew in from Germany to give counsel on the apartment search during the muggiest stretch of last summer; his parents, who came to New York from their home in England to guarantee the down payment; and his girlfriends from work-it’s platonic-who provided moral support throughout the process. Charles H. Greenthal sales associate Deborah Tzuri found sellers in a couple of fellow Israelis looking for a bigger place to accommodate their new baby. That’s no mean feat with so many cooks inspecting so many kitchens-and these were some hot kitchens. “It had to be 100 degrees in Manhattan where we were looking,” said Ms. Tzuri. With his parents securing the down payment and his company securing him an insanely low (though adjustable) 3.5 percent mortgage rate, the deal was sealed. In his new place, in fact, he’ll have to shell out $500 less per month than he did while he was renting. Closings are always a relief, but this time there was even a symbolic accompaniment: While everything was being finalized on Dec. 6, Mother Nature let loose the first real snowfall of the season.

UPPER WEST SIDE

WIDOW GENEROSA UNLOADS ANOTHER PIECE OF SLAIN HUSBAND TED AMMON’S REAL ESTATE

Generosa Ammon Pelosi, the widow of slain financier Ted Ammon, has nearly completed the divestiture of her late husband’s real-estate holdings.

In October, Ms. Ammon Pelosi sold a small Upper West Side condo that she inherited after her husband’s death. The apartment, at 45 West 67th Street-a posh high-rise near Lincoln Center, where Ted Ammon headed up the jazz program-now belongs to the married investment bankers who live one floor directly above it. They paid $950,000 for the two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,086-square-foot condo. It was their plan to renovate the two apartments into a duplex unit, but now it looks like they’ll never get the chance.

“We’re getting transferred to London,” one of the new owners told The Observer . “So now both apartments are on the market.”

Samantha Reiss of the Corcoran Group has the exclusive listing on the lower-floor apartment. She declined to comment.

Ammon was found slain in his East Hampton residence in October 2001. Since then, Ms. Ammon Pelosi-herself a real-estate broker-has liquidated five of his real-estate holdings, worth more than $40 million. The properties she sold include a co-op at 1125 Fifth Avenue, for $9.5 million; a townhouse at 10 East 87th Street, for $8.2 million; a house in Surrey, England, for $7.5 million; a commercial property in East Hampton, for $3.7 million; and, most recently, the Upper West Side condo, for $950,000. Ammon’s residence, at 59 Middle Lane, remains on the market for $10.5 million.

In January, the financier’s widow married Daniel Pelosi, an electrician who had contracted to work on the renovation of the 87th Street townhouse. Although, according to various news reports, the police have considered Mr. Pelosi a suspect in Ammon’s murder, he has never been charged with any crime related to the killing and has steadfastly maintained his innocence.