Three’s a Crowd

When Richard Meier unveiled the luminous glass towers at 173 and 176 Perry Street in 2002, the scythe-like silhouettes above the Hudson River in the far West Village attracted a gaggle of celebrity buyers-from Nicole Kidman and Martha Stewart to Calvin Klein, Ian Schrager and renter Hugh Jackman.

But in December, the celebrity buyers and the building’s other prominent owners (including NBC Universal president Michael Jackson and William Joy, the founder of Sun Microsystems) awoke to the sounds of construction beginning on a third Richard Meier tower, next door to the southern tower.

The new building, at 165 Charles Street, is set to be completed in March 2005. And when it is, the southern views from 176 Perry Street’s expansive laminated glass façade-part of the building’s selling point-will now overlook Mr. Meier’s third building rather than downtown Manhattan. In January, the Daily News reported that Nicole Kidman wanted to dump her $8 million pad at 176 Perry Street after apparently being irked by the third building.

Suddenly, the original Perry Street towers-which drew such singular praise and attention, in part because of the scarcity of residential buildings by the world-renowned architect-are looking a little less special.

It was they who made the $50 million development the de facto dormitory for downtown A-listers. The high-profile names paid upward of $2,000 per square foot to own a piece of Mr. Meier’s cutting-edge design, and the cachet of living in a building designed by a Pritzker Prize–winning architect.

On March 12, Mr. Meier and the developer, Izak Senbahar, formally unveiled the 165 Charles Street tower design at a fashionable party in the white-walled Charles Street gallery. There, guests (including novelist Salman Rushdie) nibbled sushi rolls and clinked champagne flutes as they mingled among clear acrylic models, artists’ renderings and architectural plans for the $80 million Charles Street tower. Mr. Meier, wearing a midnight-blue pinstriped suit that contrasted with his flowing white mane, dismissed the notion that his new development will overshadow his Perry Street twins.

“It’s like a cousin, not a brother or a sister. So it’s related, but it’s different,” the 69-year-old architect said.

Unlike the Perry Street towers, which Mr. Meier and developer Richard Born delivered as raw space, the 31 condos at Charles Street will be completely designed by Mr. Meier, who will outfit their interiors to match the buildings’ signature modernist style.

The building is being marketed by the Sunshine Group at $2,500 per square foot and up-$500 more per square foot than the price at which the Perry Street apartments were marketed. Apartments at the Charles Street building start at $5 million.

For that, buyers also get other amenities absent in its Perry Street “cousins,” such as a 12,000-square-foot finished cellar, a professional screening room with 36 seats, a 50-foot-long swimming pool with a cascading waterfall, an exercise room, and a wine cellar for each apartment that can accommodate 360 bottles.

Some brokers who sell high-end real estate say that Mr. Meier diluted the prestige of his Perry Street buildings by launching a third tower.

“When you’re buying a Picasso, it’s unique. And then when you find out there’s going to be a third one, then it’s not so unique,” said one broker from a major real-estate firm who has shown apartments in the building. “It’s very New York.”

Mr. Meier’s partner in the Charles Street project, Mr. Senbahar, played down any simmering tensions surrounding his mod new development and the flush buyers who fell hard for Mr. Meier’s fishbowl design at Perry Street.

“There’s no rivalry. I mean, I only read it in the papers. I think people, at the end of the day, are going to be happy to have a Richard Meier building next to them rather than a printer,” Mr. Senbahar said, speaking of the industrial lot where the new building is going up. “But to me, I was interested in this because it’s pure Richard Meier, inside and out. And that’s what I like; I don’t like to give an unfinished product. It’s a tough thing to do in New York-it’s a tough thing to finish a whole apartment.”

Whether or not they’re leaving in a snit, the Perry Street buildings have lost some of their initial high-voltage buyers-some before they even moved in. There was the report about Nicole Kidman; and then, in the same month, Martha Stewart unloaded her 3,300-square-foot duplex at 173 Perry Street for a reported $7 million. Will there be more? To date, neither Mr. Klein (who owns the $19.5 million penthouse) nor Mr. Schrager has moved in.

Asked if he’s now upstaged his celebrity buyers at Perry Street, Mr. Meier invoked the caveat emptor that faces any New York buyer: the march of development and the changing face of the city.

“It’s New York,” he said.

In fact, the architect-whose work has included the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the Getty Center in Los Angeles-sees his buildings creating a lasting impression on the once-industrial wasteland along the Hudson River. After working with Mr. Senbahar and Simon Elias-the team that built the $138 million Grand Beekman at East 51st Street and the $70 million David Rockwell–designed Alex Hotel at East 45th Street-Mr. Meier said the buildings at Perry Street, and now Charles Street, will bring rarefied design to the wind-swept blocks in the far West Village.

“Now it makes me feel like creating Central Park West here, in a sense,” he said. “There’s a continuity: The buildings are related to one another in a way they haven’t been before. And it’s a significant part of the city-which no single building can be.”

Tony Award–winning playwright and longtime Chelsea resident Richard Greenberg has landed a fashionable new Chelsea duplex in which to pen his next chef d’oeuvre . Late last year, Mr. Greenberg-whose play Take Me Out scored the 2003 Tony for Best Play-closed on a 1,500-square-foot apartment in the London Towne House at 360 West 22nd Street for $950,000. After living in a studio on 23rd Street for the past 15 years, Mr. Greenberg was ready to graduate to a two-bedroom-but he wasn’t prepared to leave the land of chiseled gym-goers and gallery-hoppers behind.

“Now I have space,” Mr. Greenberg told The Observer . “I’m going to live and work here-I can get away from myself here.”

Besides the added breathing space, the apartment features an oversized living room, custom woodwork, office space and a master bathroom with a Jacuzzi shower system. “It has fantastic views. And it’s a very easy kind of building, very civilized,” Mr. Greenberg said. Indeed, the co-op’s amenities also include a 24-hour doorman, a roof garden, a laundry and a parking garage.

Mr. Greenberg is in the midst of a renovation that will personalize his play-writing pad. “I’m actually meeting with my designer right now,” Mr. Greenberg said over the phone.

In addition to his Tony Award–winning hit in 2003, Mr. Greenberg was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize (in 2003 for Take Me Out , and in 1998 for his drama Three Days of Rain ).

James Ferrando of Douglas Elliman had the exclusive listing on the apartment, along with fellow Elliman broker Dickse Fitzgerald.

Owning Hamptons History: Modern Cottage About to Switch Hands One More Time

A modern beachfront estate built by the famed minimalist designer Joe D’Urso-complete with star-gazing observatory-is close to trading at its $9.95 million asking price, real-estate sources familiar with the property said.

The property, at 174 Further Lane in East Hampton Village, has a formidable history: It’s the former home of late Broadway siren Libby Holman, and later of ABC news titan Roone Arledge, who sold it in 1992 to the private investor Richard Pollack, the current owner.

Atop the stucco house, there’s a domed metal-plated observatory-complete with a retractable roof-on the three-acre property, which overlooks Two Mile Hollow. There’s also a heated, 45-foot-long granite infinity-edge pool and a tennis court.

“It has a very Oriental feeling,” said one broker who has toured the property. “There’s a beautiful room that faces a private pond. I envy anyone who gets this house.”

The property was first listed in 1999 at $14 million. Since then, it has bounced on and off the market. Now, brokers familiar with the proceedings say, an offer is on the table, and a signed deal is near.

“There’s some definite interest, and we’re pursuing it,” said Gary DePersia of Allan M. Schneider Associates, who is representing the property along with Harald Grant of Sotheby’s International Realty. Mr. DePersia declined to comment on whether an offer has been accepted.

“Any interest that we have would have to be pretty much full price,” he said.

If the house does trade for close to $10 million, the buyers will own a piece of Hamptons history. In the 1960’s, Ms. Holman and her artist husband, Louis Schanker, built a modest $10,000 glass cottage designed by the architect Robert Rosenberg, said a longtime East End broker with knowledge of the property.

After Mr. Pollack purchased the property from Mr. Arledge in December 1992 for $2.1 million, he tore down the existing structure and commissioned Mr. D’Urso to build the current four-bedroom home. The house has made a nice gallery for Mr. Pollack’s extensive fossil collection, sources who have visited the property say, lending it a museum-like feel. In August, Mr. Pollack told The New York Times : “[The house] is not so modern that it’s crazy,” but added that “most people just want the old-fashioned shingles, which bore me.”

If the thought of plunking down that many zeros for a Suffolk County refuge seems steep, the four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom home, with mahogany floors and trim, is also available as a summer rental for $350,000.

East End Acquisition Makes Corcoran King of the Hamptons Castle

On March 16, the Corcoran Group, which is owned by the N.R.T. Inc., made the latest in a flurry of real-estate acquisitions that has swept through the Hamptons brokerage industry in the past year, when the company purchased Easthampton-based Dayton/Halstead L.L.C., an independent brokerage with 44 agents that recorded $133 million in closed sales in 2003. The move makes Corcoran the largest brokerage on the East End, with nearly 200 brokers spread across 13 offices.

“We’re becoming an important player in the Hamptons,” Pamela Liebman, Corcoran’s president and chief executive, told The Observer. “So when this opportunity came around, we wanted to take advantage of it.”

Diane Saatchi, president of Dayton/Halstead, who will become vice president of sales for the Corcoran Group in the Hamptons, said, “I was very pleased with what [Corcoran] did at Cook Pony Farm, and it seemed prudent of me to look towards the future and have a company of our size have [their] backing and support.”

The Hamptons, long the province of exclusive brokers who would shepherd beachfront mansions into the arms of heady New York buyers, has become a hot zone of corporate consolidations as Manhattan firms seek out new-and lucrative-markets. Last year, Corcoran, which recorded $5 billion in sales in 2003, purchased Cook Pony Farm Real Estate in Easthampton and Paulette Koch Real Estate in Palm Beach, Fla. In February, Cendant, the parent company of N.R.T., purchased Sotheby International Realty’s brand for $100 million. And earlier in January, Manhattan luxury brokerage Brown Harris Stevens snatched up Easthampton-based Dunemere Associates Real Estate.

The few remaining independent brokers on the East End acknowledge the rapidly consolidating market.

“Speaking as a lone boutique person, I don’t know what’s next. Time will tell if it’s good or bad,” said Tina Fredericks, who has run her own firm on Georgica Road in Easthampton for the past 35 years. “I’ve been at it for a very long time, and I happen to think I’m the best. I’m going to hang in there.”

Dottie Herman, the chief executive of Prudential Douglas Elliman, Manhattan’s largest brokerage, took a measured view of Corcoran’s acquisition.

“The move by Corcoran doesn’t surprise me. I can give you a list of companies that are looking to sell,” she said. “I’m talking to a lot of firms, in the city and on the island. But I’m just not buying to buy; I look at the economics. I’m sure you’ll hear some announcements from me, and more from Corcoran. I think competition is healthy.”

But the intense competition is making available opportunities to buy scarce. “The consolidation in the Hamptons is just about done,” Ms. Herman said.