In the midst of the current real estate craze, it sometime seems that buyers are closing deals on apartments that they’ve scarcely had a chance to tour, let alone examine carefully. But West Coast-based interior designer Waldo Fernandez definitely had ample opportunity to consider (and re-consider) the contract he signed on a two-bedroom co-op at 69 Washington Place.
The sun-filled spread, which music producer and D.J. Mark Ronson bought for $1.8 million from real estate chronicler extraordinaire Michael Gross in 2006, entered contract way back in March 2012. Many, many months later, the deal has finally closed, and we hear, for Mr. Ronson’s $1.99 million asking price (the sale has yet to hit records). Douglas Elliman broker Raphael De Niro, who spent the last year and a half slogging through a seemingly interminable closing, declined to comment on the sale.
What took so long? Though Mr. Fernandez was similarly unforthcoming about the endless closing and his decision to stick it out, sources told The Observer that the property had numerous issues. While the six-room spread is a real stunner in seemingly pristine condition, with pocket doors, historic moldings, wood-burning fireplaces with black marble mantles, 12-foot ceilings and south-facing 10-foot windows with interior shutters (we’re swooning just typing that), the apartment was apparently riddled with problems. Reportedly, not only was the deck overlooking the backyard improperly built many decades back, but the construction of the upstairs neighbor’s deck/one-story addition also caused hold-ups. Department of building records show that 13 complaints were filed at the address of the four-unit, 1840s townhouse since 2012, only some of which have been resolved.
None of which surprised Mr. Gross who “fled” the parlor-floor apartment for a Midtown perch after 17 years of residency, complaining at the time of life force-sucking NYU students and stroller Nazis.
As for 69 Washington itself, he admitted that he bought the apartment because he fell in love, but as is the case with so many head-over-heels infatuations, came to regret the decision over time.
“It was like the plagues of Egypt—floods, rats, legal threats, violence and neighbors who made lice and locusts look house pets,” Mr. Gross said. “I’m convinced the building is cursed and if I was Waldo Fernandez I would hire an exorcist.”
As for Mr. Fernandez, whose famed designs have graced the interiors of Sex and the City creator Darren Star’s Trump Tower pad, he must have been quite taken with space. And as for any curses, he likely suspects as much with what was, by our count, one of the longest closings on record.