Bob Vila made a name for himself renovating homes on TV, often in rural or suburban corners of America—it wasn’t called This Old Condo. Still, the salt-and-pepper-of-the-Earth handyman could not resist the allure of New York real estate. Over the years he flipped everything from a $5 million Tribeca loft to an Upper East Side brownstone chopped up into million-dollar apartments after it failed to sell for almost $12 million. His latest project is a Flatiron penthouse overlooking Madison Square Park that came on the market in May for $5.7 million.
Just like back in the good old days of the corner hardware store, Bob’s son Chris Vila has gone into the family business. In 2005, he bought 56 East 11th Street, a Village loft that cost $1.68 million and sold three years later for $2.25 million. Now the Mr. Vila and wife Kristen Schonwald-Vila, who works in fashion accessories, have turned the trick even faster on their two-bedroom loft at 36 West 15th Street. Purchased for $1.995 million in May of last year, it just sold for $2.6 million, according to city records.
Stretching a straggering 90 feet between 15th and 16th streets, the 1930s loft has a whopping 23 windows, rivaling some prewar palaces uptown—god bless lot-line windows. Judging from the 2010 listing, the Vilas did a number on what was your standard shabby artists loft. “Classic modernism inspired this custom designed loft,” writes Amy Katcher in her Corcoran listing. “A private full floor with open city views, is a spectacular entertaining showplace.” De rigueur features include a Viking range, 50-bottle wine fridge and “state of the art lighting and audio system.”
The buyers are David Stonehill, a managing director at the Carlyle Group, and Caroline Cruise. His mother is a photographer whose work includes a book, New York’s Unique & Unexpected Places. She can add her son’s new loft to that collection.