It took his wife’s real-estate smarts, and $1.76 million, for glossy rich-people magazine tycoon Jason Binn to snatch up the apartment next-door to his third-floor Tribeca loft.
“I was very tenacious,” said Haley Binn, who became a Corcoran vice president earlier this year. “It’s not about being a broker. It’s just that there’s only one apartment on our side, because we’re on a corner. In order to expand, that was the one.”
Reached at his office, Mr. Binn, who puts out titles like Gotham and Hamptons and Ocean Drive, said only: “My wife and I are excited to extend our home.”
“I was very anxious to create a nice home for my family,” Ms. Binn said. “He’s pretty easygoing about that stuff. He usually leaves that stuff up to me.”
Always a smart move. Last year, when Ms. Binn was nine months pregnant with the couple’s first youngster, she tracked down the owner of their next-door place, who is pseudonymously listed on sales deeds as Hal Bob Realty L.L.C.
Back then, the mysterious Hal Bob hadn’t even closed on his apartment, for which he eventually paid $977,520. But Ms. Binn got to him.
“We connected,” she said, “and he basically named his price.”
According to city records, the seller made a tidy $782,480 profit when he flipped his place to the Binns.
Asked what he might do in his big new space, Mr. Binn only said: “It’s a great residential area to raise a family in.”
Indeed. Their 14-month-old daughter can see the Statue of Liberty from her new room. While talking to a reporter on the phone, Ms. Binn said to her daughter, “Let’s look at the boats!”
When construction is completed, the double-sized loft will have double-sized Hudson views. “Really, it’ll just expand everything,” she said. “More bedroom, more living space, more dining area, and a lot more square footage on the water. Basically, every single room is facing the water.”
The family bought their first apartment at 92 Laight Street last August, paying $2.074 million. The so-called River Lofts have a grand garden and a round-the-clock concierge—plus all the bathrooms come with Kohler “Tea for Two” tubs.
That’s right down Mr. Binn’s luxury alley. His firm, Niche Media, just partnered with Las Vegas’ Greenspun Media Group.
Hank Paulson Sells $8 M. Condo To a Well-Connected Banker
When it was reported last week that Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs chairman and C.E.O. Hank Paulson sold his two-unit apartment at the Millennium Tower on West 67th, no one mentioned that the deal was an inside trade.
According to city records, his buyer happened to be Goldman Sachs managing director Tony Lauto.
Reached at his office, Mr. Lauto confirmed that he owned an apartment a few floors down from his former boss and had been trying to buy a neighboring unit to expand. But he wasn’t having any luck.
So when he heard the Paulson place was for sale, he rushed upstairs. Despite a tremendous amount of interest in the old C.E.O.’s uptown-facing apartment, it was easy for Mr. Lauto to introduce himself. There was more, after all, than just Mr. Lauto’s current job at Goldman. His little brother happens to be John Lauto, the C.E.O. of Goldman’s stock specialist, Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, and a member of the New York Stock Exchange’s Director Candidate Recommendation Committee for 2006.
Why might that matter? Before joining the Bush administration, Mr. Paulson was a NYSE board member who was loudly critical of former exchange chairman Richard Grasso’s compensation package. Goldman president John Thain was named as the stock exchange’s C.E.O. in December of 2003.
Sure enough, Lauto the Elder got the double-sized apartment he always wanted: Before Mr. Paulson combined them, the units were 1,535 and 1,481 square feet each.
Mr. Lauto declined to discuss the price, but city records list the Paulson sales price at $7.995 million.
Among the perks of staying in his building, Mr. Lauto will remain close to his beloved in-house Reebok gym, which has 13,000 square feet of coed weight training—plus, according to the building’s Web site, a “music-filled, junior Olympic size swimming pool.”
Mr. Lauto is keeping his house in Manalapan, N.J. That’s where he and his wife will spend most of their time—at least until their family’s fifth child leaves for college.
Afterward, Mr. Paulson’s old place is all theirs.
Fisher Stevens Turns Down $5 M. Deal With Dead Landlady
A geriatric four-story townhouse at 28 Grove Street has been sold for $5 million.
The late Flora Morrell had owned the place since the early 1940’s, renting out to actors like the bombshell Kim Hunter and the funny-faced Fisher Stevens, who co-founded the modish Naked Angels Theatre Company.
Mr. Stevens must have been a good tenant during his decade there, because Ms. Morrell’s will—which happens to be attached to the recent sales deed—gives him “a right of first refusal.” That means he had 10 days to match any offers for the 4,350-square-foot Greenwich Village townhouse.
“She was a trip—it’s a bummer,” Mr. Stevens said. “I moved in right when my grandmother died, and she kind of became my adopted grandma. I travel all over the world, and she would always have me bring back perfumes and ashtrays.”
But he didn’t choose to take the house. “Fortunately, he had bought already elsewhere,” said the buyer, Roberta McGuire. According to city records, Mr. Stevens bought a $1.1 million co-op in the Fulton Ferry Historic District last November. “But we still had to wait a week to see if he wanted the house,” said Ms. McGuire. “Thank goodness he didn’t.”
Yet she still has work to do. “There’s nothing to save except the staircase and the fireplaces,” she sighed. “It’s like The Amityville Horror. Every single thing has to come out. But that’s O.K.—that’s what we wanted! It’ll be stunning.”
Halstead vice president Astrid Pillay said the place hadn’t been updated for 35 years. But her client has plans to make up for lost time: The whole building will be extended 10 feet into the garden.
Because the townhouse is landmarked, the renovation possibilities are finite. “You’re really bound by keeping it in the style of the 1850’s,” Ms. McGuire said. “But it will be a nice-sized family house. And we’ll have an elevator.”
Vintage starlet Kim Hunter rented at 28 Grove during its pre-elevator era. According to her archivist, Eric Weigle, a phone call to the house informed her that she’d won the Best Supporting Actress for A Streetcar Named Desire. Apparently, she’d skipped out on the 1951 Academy Awards.
“And then after that, because her apartment was in the front, everyone would ride by screaming, ‘Stella!’ She said to her husband Robert Emmett, ‘I don’t care where we move, but it has to be an apartment in the back.’”
After Ms. Morrell’s death in 2003, recent tenants like Mr. Stevens also realized they’d have to depart. “The building didn’t really lend itself to apartments,” said Charles Shabsels, the lawyer for Ms. Morrell’s estate. “It’s in a prime—prime—single-family residential neighborhood.”
The primo townhouse was delivered empty. Perhaps as recompense, Ms. Morrell’s will gives $5,000 to the building’s old supers.