Robert Frank emailed The Observer on Wednesday as to why he and his wife recently spent $4.2 million on a penthouse loft at 73 Fifth Avenue: “We bought because this was an ideal family home at good value, to the degree that either exists in Manhattan. It wasn’t a reflection of our view on the market, which seems even more inexplicable than ever these days. I think the market will remain soft for at least the next three years; there simply isn’t enough new wealth creation or credit.”
Mark that down. Mr. Frank, after all, would know. He is the wealth reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of The Times best-seller Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich.
The Wealth Report writer and wife Rebecca Patterson, global head of foreign exchange at JPMorgan Private Bank, had been looking for apartments for two years. “We sold our condo near the peak and rented until we found the right place,” Mr. Frank said in his email. “We were stalking this building for years, but no one ever sells. Finally, this unit came on and we negotiated for three months before getting agreement.”
The loft apartment has nearly 11-foot ceilings, four exposures and two huge skylights—sort of like a Parisian chambre de bonne on steroids. The Corcoran listing is as dramatic as the over-sized skylights, “the proportions are huge. The light spectacular. The potential… limitless.” The listing’s deft spin on “renovation needed” is the artfully worded temptation, “all of this awaits your imagination to create a home of homes.”
“It’s a great old loft building on the corner of Fifth and 15th Street,” said Alexander Nicholas, the listing broker. “There was always a steady flow of interest in the building but never a flood because the property needs a renovation, so it wasn’t in mint condition.”
The new owner was positively zen regarding the need for renovations. “It needs some work, but we plan to live here for decades so we’re going to take our time.”
Indeed. According to the broker, “The buyers were thrilled, absolutely thrilled to find the apartment. They wanted the area and the opportunity and they didn’t want to pass that up, so they were willing to do the renovations.” In addition to “windows everywhere,” the penthouse also boasts 1,000 square feet of outdoor space, a major plus for the Frank family. “It had great light, rooms for our two kids and and roof space for plants or a small garden,” Mr. Frank said. “Our daughter’s dream is to grow her own tomatoes.”