Manhattan Transfers

Upper East Side

3 East 84th Street

Three-bed, three-bath, 1,600-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $1.35 million.

Maintenance: $4,173.

Time on the market: two days.

DAWN MELLO: DORIS DUKE’S PENTHOUSE FITS! Dawn Mello, who has been back in town as president of Bergdorf Goodman since 1994, has bought a penthouse at 3 East 84th Street that brokers say Doris Duke owned at one point. In January, she sold her old penthouse-where the library has leather floors-on Park Avenue. Sources said she paid close to the asking price, which was $1.35 million.

Of course, Ms. Mello has impeccable taste, which runs from Art Deco chairs to 16th-century paintings. During her stint as creative director of Gucci, from 1989 to 1994, she hired designer Tom Ford and changed the course of the stale fashion house, which was going the way of Izod. Her old penthouse, at 470 Park Avenue near 58th Street, is just a couple of blocks from the store and was described by one broker as “exquisite,” with “beautiful landscaped terraces.” It sold in January for $2.65 million. Ms. Mello had no comment on the sales.

The condition of the apartment reputedly owned by Doris Duke was listed on one broker’s computer as “good”-“which means it’s not,” the broker said. The building, with 11 apartments, one per floor, went up in 1928. (Cindy Adams bought Doris Duke’s final apartment, a penthouse at 475 Park Avenue, last year for $1.4 million.)

Every room in Ms. Mello’s new aerie has French doors to a wraparound terrace. It has three bedrooms, three baths and a 29-foot-long living room. There are views in every direction, perfect for spotting an upcoming trend. Broker: Douglas Elliman; Ashforth Warburg Associates.

East 80’s near Fifth Avenue

5,900-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $2.95 million. Selling: $2.9 million.

Time on the market: four months.

MANSION RUSH IN TIME FOR THE TURN OF THE CENTURY It’s the Gilded Age all over again on the Upper East Side as turn-of-the-century limestone town houses like this one, which was cut up into apartments, are restored to their original purpose: mammoth single-family luxury housing for the incontrovertibly wealthy. This house had been divided into five units 40 years ago, with a doctor’s office on the ground floor. An institutional buyer had the house under contract for a while, only to pull out; it ended up in the hands of someone who wants it all to himself. The renters had all vacated before the sale closed, and the doctors are on the street in June. Renovations have already begun. So just as there are newly minted robber-baron billionaires roaming the country (even if they now make software, not railroads), mansions are back! Broker: Corcoran Group (Anne Snee, Julia Menocal).

Upper West Side

257 Central Park West (Orwell House)

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,100-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $439,000. Selling: $425,000.

Maintenance: $1,060; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

THE YEAR IS 1998 AND BIG BROTHER ANSWERS TO THIS COUPLE Despite the building’s name, this apartment is far more likely to have a Bloomberg screen flashing information from the Big Board than a telescreen with exhortations from Big Brother on it. The unit is what you’d call a starter home if you were an investment banker in the late 90’s; the buyers, who are engaged, both work in the bull market. The apartment is a corner unit in a building that was originally called the Hotel Peter Stuyvesant when it went up in 1905, along with its rosy-bricked twin next door, Rossleigh Court. In the 1970’s, the place was gut-renovated for apartments, leaving the inside with “very clean lines,” said the broker, and through-the-walls air-conditioning. The ceilings are high, the floors are wood, and there are large side-by-side windows. The banker couple liked the West 86th Street location (by the park, even if you have to flatten your head against the window to see it down the block) and near transportation (you practically touch the subway entrance when you walk out the door). It’s on the 10th floor, high over neighboring brownstones, and the living room has windows facing north and west. Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Madeline McKenna).

East Midtown

250 East 54th Street (Mondrian)

Two-bed, 2.5-bath postwar condo.

Asking: $815,000. Selling: $705,000.

Charges: $957. Taxes: $849.

Time on the market: one day.

THE SECOND COMING OF THE MONDRIAN IS ALMOST OVER For such a sleek place, the Mondrian has had more than its share of woes. Its developer lavished money on its finishes when it went up in 1991, intending to set a standard for exquisite midtown modernism: nine-foot ceilings, seven-foot windows, rosewood herringbone floors, slick kitchens. But to little avail. The project went belly-up with the early 90’s grunge-era economy, and the condos were withdrawn from the market while rental tenants moved in. Now the units are being sold off, often to those very renters. A woman from Michigan called broker Wendy Sarasohn to help her apartment-shop since her lease was running out. “I took her out one day, but she liked her apartment better,” remembered Ms. Sarasohn. “And at the end of the day, I went back to look at her place and agreed.” So the Michigander stayed put, and when her lease ended, she called Ms. Sarasohn to negotiate for her to buy the pied-à-terre . “She didn’t have to involve me,” said the broker, who nevertheless seems to have knocked the price down a bit. “Although she likes New York so much now I’m looking for a career for her here.” Broker: Corcoran (Wendy Sarasohn).

Murray Hill

67 Park Avenue near 38th Street

One-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,000-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $399,000. Selling: $365,000.

Maintenance: $1,250; 35 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

THE CHARM OF THE CHIME LURES CONCERTMASTER “This apartment faces south over a church,” explained broker Ruth Samuels, who brought the buyer to lower Park Avenue. Apparently, the church’s bells ring most charmingly, and that was part of the appeal of the place. The building itself is low-key and prewar, and the apartment, which is on the 12th floor, has high ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace. The buyer is a concertmaster relocating from Minneapolis. Originally, he’d started looking in Gramercy Park and Greenwich Village, but Ms. Samuels took him to the less well traveled precincts of Murray Hill because, well, “the apartment was the apartment for him.” However, “it was a bit more than they wanted to pay.” But they heard bells: “The attorney, who was handling the apartment for the seller, was trying to get the buyer to be there when they chimed so they’d be charmed enough to buy it.” Apparently, it worked. Broker: Corcoran (Ruth Samuels).


166 Duane Street

Three-bed, 3.5-bath, 2,800-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $1.375 million. Selling: $1.375 million.

Charges: $1,114. Taxes: $1,091.

Time on the market: six months.

LIKE THIS BUILDING? TOUGH, YOU CAN’T LIVE HERE Two doctors were moving to town to take his-and-hers positions at a hospital in Brooklyn. They both grew up in New York but had been living in California, and they were specific in their mission objectives for a new home. First, they wanted to be downtown, to make it easier to drive to work, but in an established neighborhood. Second, they wanted to do little work on the place, and it should have lots of light (California ruins you for those airshaft views). And, third, they didn’t want to spend much more than $1 million. They were very fond of 166 Duane Street, a TriBeCa building recently converted to residential condominiums (before that, it housed offices). But they had no luck in finding what they wanted within their budget. So their budget grew. The loft they bought sits on a corner of the building looking out over Duane Park, and is being delivered with an unused Sub-Zero refrigerator, unscuffed maple floors and a new-to-the-job 24-hour doorman. All within a short stroll of the multifloor mega-Bouley (coming soon). 166 Duane seems to be the oh-so-correct address in TriBeCa: Earlier this year, this column reported that Time Warner Inc.’s president, Richard Parsons, bought a 4,826-square-foot loft there for $3.7 million, and even socialite Nancy Richardson, who’s been trying to unload her $16 million Fifth Avenue digs for months now, has been spotted poking around. But it’s all sold out, so you can’t live there. Broker: William B. May (Mitchell Speer).



In July 1996, rap culture mogul Russell Simmons sold his 3,400-square-foot triplex penthouse at the Silk Building, above Tower Records on Broadway and East Fourth Street, for $1.65 million, and moved to Los Angeles. Sources say he is trying to move back.

Mr. Simmons admired Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ 4,395-square-foot condo, a stacked place that climbs up four floors and had been on the market with the Corcoran Group for $2.25 million since June 1996. “It was really expensive and really vertical,” said one broker familiar with the building, explaining why Mr. Richards’ three-bedroom apartment, with its mahogany-lined music room, has been on the market for so long. Mr. Simmons was negotiating to buy the apartment directly from Mr. Richards, according to another broker. But a spokesman for Mr. Simmons said the deal has fallen through.

When he sold his Silk Building penthouse, Mr. Simmons, who founded Def Jam Records and the clothing line Phat Farm and produced the Eddie Murphy film The Nutty Professor , had decided to base himself in Los Angeles. Then he seemed to change his mind. Last year, he was all set to buy a $1 million loft in the New Museum building, at 583 Broadway; Spike Lee and Madonna were going to be his neighbors. But in the end, all three backed out. (Since then, Madonna and Mr. Lee have both been looking at town houses on the Upper East Side.) Friends say the “bicoastal” Mr. Simmons was reduced to crashing, when he was in town, at the apartment of pal Andre Harrell, the former president of Motown Records who now works for Sony Music.

The Silk Building, which was formerly a garment factory, was converted to a condominium in the early 1980’s. One broker described the multifloor apartment layouts as being inspired by the stairs-and-levels look of Studio 54. “They’re not family apartments,” the source said. In 1990, Mr. Simmons bought his first Silk Building apartment-overwhelmingly furnished in beige-from Cher for $1.625 million. He also bought a duplex one-bedroom apartment in the building in 1993 for $247,500 that he used as an office. He sold the office a year ago for $310,000.

Manhattan Transfers