Sebastian Junger has braved some manly challenges-from forest fires in the western U.S to war zones in Kosovo and Afghanistan and the dangerous diamond trade in Sierra Leone-in his career as an author and TV reporter. His next challenge? Interior decorating!
The 41-year-old Perfect Storm author recently purchased an apartment at 315 West 36th Street for $764,500 in a converted loft building designed by the renowned Blum Brothers, two Ecole des Beaux-Arts–trained architects, city records show. The raw loft in the gritty garment district is giving him the challenge he craves.
“I like the neighborhood, I like the openness of the apartment,” Mr. Junger wrote in an e-mail to The Observer , “and I like that it’s a raw space.”
Mr. Junger had been renting on the Lower East Side, but he decided it was time to set up a permanent camp in a more tranquil corner of the city, away from the L.E.S.’s fast-developing expansion.
“I got tired of the ice-cream truck parking below my window while I was trying to work,” Mr. Junger said.
Sources familiar with the space say it will cost approximately $75 per square foot to complete the unfinished loft. And it won’t be like Mariah Carey’s Mario Buatta–outfitted “raw” space. Mr. Junger has a simple renovation plan that will include “two walls, two sinks and a counter for chopping onions.”
“He got one of the first apartments. He just loved the space,” said Hela Miodownik, a broker at Halstead Property who sold Mr. Junger the apartment along with fellow Halstead broker Charles Hawkins. “He liked the fact it had so much light.”
Mr. Junger, whose books have chronicled extreme events like Atlantic Ocean tempests and wild forest fires, has used New York as a base for his far-flung reporting assignments.
The 1,510-square-foot apartment, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, was delivered as raw space with concrete floors. The building was converted to lofts in February 2003, and the bottom 10 floors remain in commercial use, housing film-editing and production companies.
“It’s for people who really want to customize their space and want square footage,” Ms. Miodownik said.
Mr. Junger’s 14th-floor apartment is in one of the neighborhood’s most distinctive buildings, featuring oversized windows and southern exposures. The building was designed in 1926 by the Blum Brothers, two of New York’s iconic architects, in the Gothic deco style. The two brothers attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris around 1900, at the height of the Art Nouveau movement, and their buildings-including the Phaeton at 545 West 112th Street (1910), 780 West End Avenue (1914) and 791 Park Avenue (1924)-have become Manhattan landmarks.
In addition to his newly acquired garment-district spread, Mr. Junger has used his reporting gravitas to wade into the sharky waters of the New York nightlife scene as a part owner of the Chelsea bar Half King, along with fellow journalist Scott Anderson and documentary filmmaker Nanette Burstein. His new apartment is only a short hop from the Half King on West 23rd Street, making for an easy walk home fueled by pints of Guinness.
When the snows of January start to melt away, moneyed New Yorkers who don’t already have a summer place start looking frantically for one. But there are no worries for Serena Altschul, the flaxen-haired CBS News correspondent and former MTV News anchor, now that she’s bought an East Hampton beach house for a Hamptons-esque $1.695 million.
Ms. Altschul-whose family is still trying to unload their co-op at 993 Fifth Avenue for $11.5 million after a board turn-down-recently bought a single-floor, shingle-style beach house on Gerard Drive before the holidays (perhaps as an early Christmas gift), township records show.
“It’s a waterfront property, and unique in that the house was at the end of the road. It has nature preserves on one side of the property,” said Bob Lepine of Devlin McNiff, who represented the sellers along with Kathy Konzet of Sotheby’s International Realty.
Ms. Altschul did not return calls seeking comment.
Jane Dillon, also of Sotheby’s, represented Ms. Altschul and could not be reached for comment.
The single-level home, on just over one acre, measures 1,650 square feet, has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and is built on stilts overlooking the ocean. Ms. Altschul, 33, may be inspired to recall fond memories of the MTV Beach House, where bleary-eyed spring-breakers caroused while being entertained by celebrity hosts like Jerry Springer. But according to sources, Ms. Altschul’s new spread is much more mature, as befits a demure network correspondent.
“It’s very rustic. You really feel like you’re at the beach,” said one source who was familiar with the property. “It’s probably the way the Hamptons used to be.”
Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market
Upper East Side
300 East 62nd Street|
One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo
Asking: $635,000. Selling: $580,000.
Time on the market: three months
ANYTHING FOR LOVE Given the lengths that Manhattan buyers are willing to go in search of the perfect home, it takes a lot to make them give up their slice of the island. But one man was willing to give it all up-for love. About a year ago, the general manager of the Hillside Honda car dealership in Jamaica, Queens, bought this one-bedroom Upper East Side spread on the corner of Second Avenue and 62nd Street, and planned to move there from an apartment he’d been renting in the same building. But before he landed in his new 850-square-foot apartment-with renovated oak floors, new closets and a renovated open kitchen-he fell for a woman who lived in the wilds of Connecticut. Their romance burned bright, and he decided to leave the city life-and his new property-for domestic bliss in the suburbs. “He never actually moved in,” said Jenifer Caplan, a broker at Benjamin James who represented the buyer in the all-cash deal. Luckily, he found a real-estate investor in his 30′s who had been renting in the building for nine years and was ready to buy. “He didn’t want to leave the building-with only five apartments on each floor, it was a very desirable address,” said Ms. Caplan. And the ease of the move was another strong selling point. “He just had to move his furniture up four flights,” Ms. Caplan said.
99 East Fourth Street
Two bedroom, one-bathroom co-op
Asking: $689,000. Selling: $680,000.
Maintenance: $685; 52 percent tax-deductible
Time on the market: three weeks .
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN For every transplanted New Yorker who has arrived from the fly-over states to trade strip-mall homogeneity for downtown’s trendy streets, there are still those born and bred New Yorkers who remember Avenue A before guidebook-clutching tourists could be seen traversing the windswept blocks east of the Bowery. This couple, a pair of attorneys in their mid-30′s, had recently added a fourth member to their growing family and needed a larger space to accommodate the clan. But the seller had lived in the East Village his whole life, and he wanted to remain in the now-gentrified nabe. Ed Hardesty of Douglas Elliman found the couple a larger three-bedroom spread nearby on East Third Street, in the very same building where the seller had grown up. “He had never left the East Village ZIP code in his whole life, so it was like going home,” Mr. Hardesty said. The couple found two eager buyers ready to own a piece of the hip East Village, and their professions befitted the area’s mix of creative types: He’s a novelist and contributor to The New York Sun , the 21-month-old stab at a conservative counterweight to The New York Times , and she’s a hair stylist. The 900-square-foot apartment has prewar details, a recently renovated bathroom with a Jacuzzi, and a modern eat-in kitchen with granite counters.
27 South Oxford Street
Four-and-a-half-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom townhouse.
Asking: $1.3 million.
Selling: $1.295 million.
Time on the market: four weeks.
SO LONG, SOHO By now it’s an oft-heard refrain that Brooklyn’s relaxed quality of life, quiet streets and terrestrial real-estate prices beat Manhattan, where people cram into stratospherically priced apartments just to boast of a 212 area code-even if it means living in a $2,000-a-month closet on Avenue D. This particular couple-one the interior designer of the newly renovated Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the other a documentary filmmaker-abandoned their 2,000-square-foot loft on Mercer Street for this luxurious Fort Greene brownstone. “They really didn’t care for the pace of the city,” said their broker, Jerry Minsky of the Corcoran Group. “Brooklyn must be really hot if they were willing to leave that all behind.” The sellers, a couple of physicians, were seeking an even more relaxed lifestyle than Brooklyn’s laid-back charm, so they set off for another Fort-this time, Lauderdale-leaving behind a lavish 4,410-square-foot townhouse on a historic block across from Fort Greene Park, where the owner of Macy’s once lived before he and his wife perished on the Titanic . The new owners will live in a triplex and rent out the bottom floor. The building dates to 1864 and features original moldings, a formal dining room and 21st-century amenities, including an eat-in kitchen, a Jacuzzi and-a real luxury for city dwellers-a private backyard. “It would be a $9 million house in Manhattan,” Mr. Minsky said.