Meet the $20 M. Loft

The most expensive loft apartment in Manhattan history is close to trading hands. The sprawling 11,000-square-foot triplex penthouse at 704 Broadway, known as Sky Studios, carried a stratospheric asking price of $19.99 million and has been on the market since 2002. The five-bedroom spread has now attracted two interested buyers, and a deal is close to complete.

The tri-level spread, atop a 19th-century loft building on Broadway between East Fourth and Washington Place, is owned by the Israeli investor Jonathan Leitersdorf. It’s been the backdrop for some of downtown’s most fashionable soirées, including Sex and the City shoots, a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser and Jerry Seinfeld’s December 1999 wedding to Jessica Sklar. Mr. Leitersdorf first listed the place for $27 million in 2002 with Stephen McRae of Sotheby’s International Realty. Suddenly, two years later, two buyers now seem ready for an eight-figure battle to claim the luxurious loft.

“We’re negotiating; we’re going back and forth,” said Douglas Elliman exclusive broker Michael Shvo. “One [buyer] wants the furniture. We’re trying to negotiate. We have tremendous activity.”

According to Mr. Shvo, one bidder is a real-estate investor, and the other is a prominent entertainment personality, though the broker declined to comment on their identities.

Whoever does win Mr. Leitersdorf’s Greenwich Village penthouse will have purchased perhaps the most opulent loft in Manhattan. The first floor of the apartment covers 5,200 square feet and includes cast-iron columns from the original 19th-century structure, 16-foot ceilings and exposed brick. The 40-year-old Mr. Leitersdorf, who owns a luxurious chalet in the Swiss Alps with a pool carved into the mountainside, completed an extensive renovation to his Broadway loft that included a working Tudor fireplace, a pressed-tin ceiling and a master suite with a white marble spa. The top two floors were finished in the modernist style and have a glass mezzanine with 20-foot ceilings and a 1,200-square-foot landscaped garden, as well as a screening room, a second kitchen and an additional master suite that leads out to the apartment’s signature element: a heated swimming pool on the rooftop deck finished with imported teak. Why deal with the sun-worshipping crowds bronzing themselves at the Soho House pool or the Hotel Gansevoort roof deck when you can have your very own downtown swimming oasis?

“[The pool] was always fun, and it always broke the ice,” Mr. Leitersdorf recently told The New York Times , referring to a party in which two revelers dove into the pool naked. Mr. Leitersdorf reportedly spent about $500,000 outfitting the 25-foot-long rooftop pool, which he described as “like going to a Kiss concert.”

Former two-time French Open tennis champion Jim Courier recently served up a prime piece of downtown real estate with the purchase of a $3.26 million loft in the prestigious Carl Fischer Building at 62 Cooper Square. In April, city records show, Mr. Courier, 33, bought the ninth-floor apartment in the converted music-publishing building with its prominent rooftop clock from movie producer Julian Iragorri, whose credits include the Oscar-winning film You Can Count on Me (2000) and Lift (2001).

Lida Drummond, of Douglas Elliman, had the exclusive listing; she didn’t return calls for comment.

The apartment includes a full set of luxurious appointments that met the sharp eye of the world’s former No. 1–ranked tennis ace. The 2,618-square-foot corner loft had three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a master suite with a double-head shower, concrete flooring and expansive views to the south, east and west through 19 windows.

The apartment first hit the market back in October 2002 with a $3.75 million asking price, before dropping to $3.45 million in February 2004.

Mr. Courier could not be reached for comment.

Recent Transactions In the Real Estate Market

Upper East Side

114 East 61st Street

Six-bedroom, six-bathroom townhouse.

Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $4.35 million.

Time on the market: four months.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT The plastic surgeon who recently snapped up this townhouse on East 61st Street, between Park and Lexington avenues, was looking for a place where she could shuffle downstairs after her morning coffee to begin an uplifting day in the field of medicine. She found just that in this four-story brown-stone being sold by a pair of Chinese doctors who had their offices on the building’s bottom floor and lived upstairs. The private residence covered the top three floors, and the plastic surgeon now plans to work on the ground level. Earlier this year, the sellers went in search of more space in the country and decided to unload their Upper East Side spread, which had original moldings, an open kitchen with stainless steel appliances and marble counters, a wine cellar, a master bedroom with a glass atrium and, out back, a private rear garden. The buyers had been living in a two-bedroom on nearby East 69th Street before they traded up to townhouse living. And they weren’t alone in their attraction to this block: In the past few months, three townhouses have traded hands. Laurance Kaiser, the president of Key-Ventures Realty, had the exclusive listing.

Midtown

116 Central Park South

One-bedroom, one-bathroom condo.

Asking: $675,000. Selling: $675,000.

Charges: $705; taxes: $3,240.

Time on the market: one week.

MOTHER KNOWS BEST The buyer of this Central Park South perch, an executive at the education test-prep company Kaplan, felt like a failure in his year-long odyssey combing the island for a permanent place to settle down. “He really looked all over,” said his broker, Timothy Melzer, a vice president with Douglas Elliman. After living in Chelsea, Noho and, most recently, Tribeca, he had plenty of experience with neighborhoods in the city, yet still was unsure where to put down his roots. After finding this 900-square-foot spread in the Park House on the corner of Central Park South and Sixth Avenue, he called his mother-who happens to be a prominent real-estate broker in Connecticut-seeking advice. Her response? “You can never go wrong with Central Park South.” “She told him that it was a really smart investment,” Mr. Melzer said. That was enough to persuade him. He promptly bought the south- and north-facing apartment with its oak strip floors, new kitchen with granite counters and marble bath. The building also includes a garage and a private gym. The sellers, a finance executive and his wife who were expanding their own operation, listed the apartment after they found a larger place on Park Avenue that could accommodate a growing family. Matthew Amico, also of Douglas Elliman, represented the sellers.

Park Slope

135 Berkeley Place

Nine-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouse.

Asking: $1.2 million. Selling: $1.2 million.

Time on the market: three weeks.

THE RIGHT STUFF The family who owned this 19th-century Park Slope townhouse recently wanted to unload the place, and they marketed the property to developers. Since the property was going to be gut-renovated, they were keen on finding the right buyer to transform the 3,900-square-foot property into three luxury condos.

“They didn’t want just anybody to come in. They wanted someone who knew what they were doing,” said Barbara Stewart of the Corcoran Group, who handled the sale. They selected a local developer with a proven track record. “Real estate is like anything: The more you do it, the better you get. And that’s what these developers had-experience,” Ms. Stewart said. The sellers entertained five offers before selling to a seasoned Park Slope developer who had already completed two projects in the cute neighborhood. He now plans to update the historic spread without harming details such as the outdoor garden, marble mantels, tin ceilings, parquet floors and bay windows. When he’s finished with the renovation next year, the building will be configured as a ground-floor duplex and two floor-through three-bedroom apartments on the upper levels.