Curry Favors U.W.S.

Ann Curry, the morning news anchor on NBC’s Today , will be leaving her Gramercy Park apartment for the tranquillity of the Upper West Side.

Ms. Curry and her husband, software executive Brian Wilson, recently bought a $2.9 million townhouse on a tree-lined block and soon will be moving into the 6,000-square-foot spread with their two children. First, the couple must complete an extensive renovation of the brownstone, which dates to 1894.

“It’s a turn-of-the-century house with much of its original charm intact, but it needs tremendous T.L.C.,” Ms. Curry said. “I can already see the making of a home for my family.”

“They were looking for a real home,” said Mike Sieger of Fenwick-Keats Realty, who sold the property to Ms. Curry and Mr. Wilson in November. “After looking on the East Side, they knew they wanted to be on the Upper West Side. They didn’t feel like East Side people.”

Budding families like the Seinfelds and the O’Donnells have felt the same way, taking advantage of neighborhood institutions like Zabar’s, Fairway, Riverside Park and Central Park that can make the Upper West Side more family-friendly than posher districts like the Wilson-Curry’s old Gramercy Park neighborhood or the Upper East Side.

The building, currently configured as apartments, is now being remade into a single-family home, and when Ms. Curry and company move in they will enjoy a 600-square-foot roof terrace, south-facing exposures and a private rear garden.

The relaxed Upper West Side neighborhood will be a welcome refuge for Ms. Curry’s fast-paced media lifestyle. Named on People ‘s “Most Beautiful” list in 1998, the raven-haired Ms. Curry has offered up news to Matt and Katie on Today since 1997, and she’s also a contributing reporter for Dateline NBC . After the Sept. 11 attacks, she reported from Ground Zero, interviewing recovery workers and firefighters, before she covered the Afghanistan war aboard the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt , stationed in the Arabian Sea. That assignment led to an exclusive interview with Gen. Tommy Franks at Rammstein Air Force Base in Germany.

The 18-foot-wide brownstone first came on the market in September 2002 with a $3.25 million asking price before Mr. Sieger cut Ms. Curry’s $2.9 million deal.

Alan Meltzer’s Creed: Buy! Buy! Buy! Record chief grabs $3 M. combo-condo

AlthoughiPod-sporting teenagers may be hurting CD sales with their iTunes downloads,Wind-UpRecords chief executive Alan Meltzer is doing just fine.

The 59-year-old has just added a $6.5 million penthouse at 944 Park Avenue to his Manhattan real-estate holdings, city records show.

In 1995, Mr. Meltzer paid just over $3 million for a penthouse in the building, and now has purchased the adjacent 3,405-square-foot apartment on the 15th floor. At press time, Mr. Meltzer couldn’t be reached for comment about his plans for his newly acquired Park Avenue perch, but brokers familiar with the condo building say that Mr. Meltzer can now combine the apartments into one giant penthouse.

Ross Nodell, a broker with Spire Development who sold Mr. Meltzer the spread, was unavailable for comment.

Mr. Meltzer’s new three-bedroom apartment features four and a half baths, an eat-in gourmet kitchen, a formal dining room, a wood-burning fireplace and views of the park and the city skyline.

The move is the latest acquisition for the record chief, who is no stranger to luxurious Upper East Side real estate. In August of 2000, Mr. Meltzer purchased an 11-room duplex at 515 Park Avenue that belonged to New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine for $18 million. But Mr. Meltzer never occupied the space, and following the Sept. 11 attacks, he sold the four-bedroom apartment to a technology investor for $18.2 million in December 2001. The move grabbed headlines because it was said to be the highest price paid for a New York apartment following the attacks.

When not buying and selling high-priced Manhattan real estate, Mr. Meltzer runs his successful New York–based independent record label, which released such chart-topping rock bands as Creed and Evanescence with an exclusive distribution deal with BMG Records. (Creed’s 1999 album Human Clay achieved the rare diamond-record status by selling more than 10 million copies.) Mr. Meltzer’s wife, Diana, who signed Creed, is chief talent scout in the company.

UPPER WEST SIDE

33 West 93rd Street Three-bedroom, three-bathroom co-op. Asking: $1.385 million. Selling: $1.4 million. Maintenance: $1,453; 40 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: one month.

FAMILY VALUE Ms. Curry and Mr. Wilson are not the only family to have sought refuge in the Upper West Side’s leafy side streets. When an attorney and his family decided to sell their Upper East Side apartment, they shopped across the park and fell hard for this renovated townhouse just off Central Park West. The sellers, a fashion designer and a restaurateur, had to relocate to Chicago, and a competition among several families to get into the building quickly ensued, with the winning buyers outbidding the rest by more than $10,000. “This is a real family building, and we had multiple bidders,” said Stephen Kotler, a Douglas Elliman broker with the exclusive. “It’s a great place to raise a family.” Along with the prime location in the neighborhood, the winning buyers were attracted to this top-floor duplex’s space, 12-foot ceilings and the outdoor terrace facing the private rear garden.

UPPER EAST SIDE

215 East 80th Street Three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo. Asking: $895,000. Selling: $895,000. Time on the market: one week.

TAX APPEAL When you have a buyer and seller both in real-estate investing, their deal-finding acumen is bound to produce a quick closing. That’s what happened for this recently renovated three-bedroom spread in the American Felt Building on East 80th Street between Second and Third avenues, after the seller, a real-estate developer, decided to relocate in Manhattan. (No word on whether he dragged a wagonload of kids west.) He quickly found a real-estate investment couple to buy his spread to take advantage of the 1031 tax code, a provision that allows buyers to purchase a new property without capital-gains taxes if the new sale is completed within 90 days. The Manhattan-based buyers already owned an apartment in the building, but after viewing this 1,400-square-foot place, they pounced at the opportunity to upgrade their investment and bought the apartment even before the first open house. The recently renovated apartment offered new hardwood floors, north and south exposures, a whirlpool tub and a modern kitchen. The building’s amenities sweetened the investment with such luxury perks as a private health club, central laundry and a full-time doorman. And there are three bedrooms. Is this a “family” apartment on the Upper East Side? “This building is a very solid investment. With the schools in the neighborhood and the exclusive Richmond Building next-door, these apartments have gone up in value,” said Daniella Schlisser, a broker with the Corcoran Group who had the exclusive. “Eli’s is around the corner, and P.S. 290 is right in the neighborhood. It’s really an ideal location.”

LOWER EAST SIDE

513 Grand Street Four-bedroom, three-bath townhouse. Asking: $1.2 million. Selling: $999,999. Time on market: five months.

THE HEIR DOWN THERE No matter how much Manhattan buyers kvetch about budget-busting real-estate prices, there are always those lucky few who owned a slice of Gotham before property values appreciated to the stratospheric levels of today. This schoolteacher in his 50’s had the good fortune to inherit a unique Lower East Side townhouse-a former hat factory that dates to the 1830’s, and where his family has lived since World War II. After half a century of living in one of the neighborhood’s only single-family houses, he decided it was time to cash out and is now living on a sprawling 14-acre country house in Bergen County, N.J. Talk about family-friendly. He found buyers to the tune of a million dollars in a children’s-book designer and her artist husband. They’d been living in a co-op on Suffolk Street, but decided they wanted the freedom of owning their own house with the space to set up a studio. “The husband is an artist, and now he’ll be able to work from home,” said Kervin Vales, a broker with William B. May who represented the seller. The new owners will now have one of the most distinctive properties in a rapidly gentrifying (and homogenizing) Lower East Side-witness the Avalon Chrystie Place, a 708-apartment residential development now going up on the corner of East Houston and Chrystie streets. In contrast, the Grand Street townhouse retains its Lower East Side character. The 1,743-square-foot townhouse features four bedrooms, three baths, a basement wine cellar and a newly renovated kitchen with a stainless Sub-Zero refrigerator.

UPPER EAST SIDE

2004’s First big sale:

u.k. sells consul’s spread-

a deep discount at $12.5 m.

The first big-ticket sale of 2004 in the upper echelons of Manhattan real estate came only a week into the new year, when the British government signed a contract to sell the gilded residence of Sir Thomas Harris, the British consul general, at 4 East 66th Street for $12.5 million, sources said.

The apartment had last been asking $14 million when the British government lowered the price last August from its original lofty price tag of $22 million, and sources close to the apartment said a buyer snatched the sprawling 14-room spread on the corner of East 66th Street and Fifth Avenue for $12 million late last week.

A spokesperson for the British Consulate in Manhattan would neither confirm nor deny that the apartment has been sold. Barbara Evans-Butler, a broker with Stribling and Associates with the exclusive on the residence, declined to comment.

For $12.5 million, the new owner has taken over one of Manhattan’s most storied residences. The 7,000-square-foot, full-floor apartment features five bedrooms, seven and a half baths, a library with a wood-burning fireplace, a 50-foot gallery and a formal dining room with seating for 30. The apartment has 50 feet of frontage overlooking Central Park and, befitting the neighborhood, some well-heeled tenants. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Sid and Mercedes Bass, Ace Greenberg and Veronica Hearst have all owned apartments in the co-op, which dates to 1946. Sources close to the apartment say that it will need extensive renovations to bring it up to modern standards. “It hasn’t been renovated in years,” one source said.

The sale by the British government of 4 East 66th Street is just the latest in a downscaling of 80 government residences announced by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as a cost-cutting measure. Sir Thomas lived at 4 East 66th Street until August 2002, when he moved with his wife to a more modest spread at the Beekman Regent at 351 East 51st Street. At 4 East 66th Street, the British government took a hit from its original asking price: The apartment first came on the market in January 2002 for $22 million, and over the next year the price dropped to $19.5 million, $16 million and finally to $14 million in August 2003.

Though finding prospective buyers for a foreign government proved difficult and the apartment sold at a 46 percent discount, Ms. Evans-Butler of Stribling is no stranger to international diplomacy. Her husband, Richard Butler, is the Australian diplomat who led the U.N. weapons-inspection team in Iraq in the 1990’s before Hans Blix took over to track Saddam’s W.M.D. before the Iraq war. Though her husband didn’t find any, apparently Ms. Evans-Butler was more adroit at tracking down high-priced Manhattan buyers, who at times can be just as elusive.