Fashion designer Anna Sui is known for her clever and fanciful clothing–two skills she will need to combine apartments on the ninth floor of 31 West 12th Street. The 11-story 1901 building was designed by J. B. Snook & Sons for department store owner George A. Hearn as a home for his executives. How fitting! A dressmaking living in the former home of a Macy’s rival.
The building possesses some splendid balconies, with the kind of gothic cutesiness Ms. Sui is known for, but the interiors are tight warrens of small rooms, according to a broker who has been in the building. Each floor typically has two three-bedroom units spread across roughly 1,700 square feet each.
Ms. Sui has been in one of them since at least 1998, according to old mortgage documents, and a fresh deed shows that she has bought a neighbor’s spread, paying $2.3 million in an unlisted deal with Judith and Murray Lerner. He is a documentarian who won the Oscar in 1981 for From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, though his best-known works may be his concert footage from the 1960s and ’70s, particularly of the Newport Folk Festival.
Ms. Sui is actually piecing together quite the ensemble in the building, having purchased a garret-like one-bedroom on the 11th floor in 2006 for $700,000. She uses that as a writing studio, according to Elle Decor, and had designer Mani Colaku transform her cluster of crannies into a generous one-bedroom in 2000.
Is he up to the task of combining the two units? It could be a challenge, according to the broker, because of a large, ornate stairwell at the core of the building–there is a small elevator at the back–but what a home that would make. “If she owned a whole floor there, it would be quite magnificent,” the broker said. “It’s fun to ramble from room to room, and with all those exposures so high up, it would make for quite the views of the Village.”