SUDDENLY, BROOKE BLOWS TOWN FOR LAS VEGAS HOMESTEAD. Brooke Shields is having a run of good luck: She seems to have plausibly denied reports in London’s Mail on Sunday on May 24 that she was detained by French police at the Nice airport on suspicion of carrying drugs. And now the leggy teen-model turned ungainly sitcom-actress has managed to unload her 16-foot-wide brownstone on East 62nd Street for about $2.5 million. Sources say that she’s not buying a new place in the city right now, since she’s been spending her time on the West Coast filming Suddenly Susan , or at hubby Andre Agassi’s spread in Las Vegas. The folks at the nearby hip health-food restaurant, Candle Cafe, will surely miss Ms. Shields’ frequent chow-downs.
Like many New Yorkers, Ms. Shields benefited from Manhattan’s raging real estate market: She originally bought the place in 1992 from playwright Neil Simon for $1.8 million, which means she pockets a tidy profit of $700,000. The four-story, four-bedroom house, located between Lexington and Third avenues, is small and charming. A fifth bedroom was converted into a walk-in closet and, in the master bath, there’s a big wooden bathtub, which brokers described as odd. And in case prospective buyers wondered who owned the place, not to worry: Brokers say the surfaces are covered with photos of Ms. Shields.
The house is across the street from the home of Christopher Cerf, son of Random House founder Bennett Cerf. Mr. Cerf happens to throw the annual Radcliffe Publishing Course’s welcome-to-Manhattan party, stocked with ambitious Smith College grads who want nothing more than to be suddenly Susan, a single-gal columnist for a groovy magazine who doesn’t do much work but looks fantastic in her collection of outfits. Of course, only people on TV have jobs like that.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES. It’s not easy being a rock wife and socialite-take Ann Jones. She and her husband, former Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, have tried to raise five children in a suitably unconventional way, dressing them in motorcycle jackets and bringing the whole brood (and nanny) along with them everywhere, including rock club Irving Plaza a few years ago when one of the kids had a gig there. Now the Joneses are moving nearby, to an 1850 house on Rutherford Place, a short street that runs between East 15th and East 17th streets along the west side of Stuyvesant Square. The 19-foot-wide, five-story limestone house was on the market for $2.495 million with Sara Gelbard of the Corcoran Group; the Joneses are currently renovating. “We wanted a little more privacy” than their 14-room San Remo apartment offered, Ms. Jones told The Observer . “When Mick came back from tour, or from being in the studio, and the kids were around, he said he felt like he was in central casting … so he wanted a split-level.”
But it wasn’t just rock-star angst that drove their desire to move: Ms. Jones said she wanted a garret, and why not? She’s the style editor for Marvin Shanken’s new glossy, Hamptons Country Magazine , and a contributor to Tatler Magazine . But a lead on a house on East 75th Street between Madison and Park avenues fell through. By then, they’d already sold their San Remo place-which sources said was right above an apartment that recently sold for a record-breaking $9.5 million-for a pre-bull-market price of just over $5 million. The ex-Foreigner and his family found themselves squatting in a spare, modern rental atop 279 Central Park West.
Meanwhile, their broker, Mark Thomas Amadei at Sotheby’s International Realty, was looking around for a place “on a park, with light,” he said. “It was like, Good luck, unless you want to spend $12 million on Gramercy Park,” said Mr. Thomas. But then he thought of a place, once owned by Stanford White for trysts with his mistress Evelyn Nesbit, which had been renovated, complete with what Ms. Jones described as “love cherubs” out front. Most recently it had been rented by Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive of Pearson P.L.C., the British owner of the Financial Times , The Economist , Penguin U.S.A. books and Madame Tussaud’s wax museums. She’d decorated it, perhaps unfortunately, in a “hippies with money” style, said one witness.
Ms. Jones wasn’t sold at first-“We didn’t think it was the area we wanted,” she said. Especially since her three older kids live downtown and go to New York University.
But Stuyvesant Square has its charms. Built in 1863 and surrounded by a cast-iron fence, it resembles a London park. It debuted as a neighborhood where some mighty fancy families built houses overlooking the greenery. Later, of course, its fashionableness declined and immigrants moved in. “Think of Gramercy Park 15 years ago, with all its methadone clinics,” said Mr. Thomas, who sold Winona Ryder her place on that park. “Nobody wanted to live there.”
The Joneses’ house is a legacy of Stuyvesant Square’s earlier era: The parlor level has 14-foot-high ceilings, and the master bedroom has a balcony overlooking the park; they’re installing roof decks. The house has been on the market on and off since 1994. Oh, and as for those kids, there are five bedrooms upstairs; Ms. Jones said the rooms would be for when the youngsters were “either living [with us] or visiting. It’s debatable.”
Upper East Side
166 East 63rd Street
Three-bed, three-bath, 1,615-square-foot postwar condo.
Asking: $895,000. Selling: $895,000.
Charges: $1,006. Taxes: $766.
Time on the market: two weeks.
PREWAR! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? How does a broker sell a postwar apartment to the prewar mentality? “I call it ‘interim-war,'” said broker Henry Beck of the whitish-brick 1958 high-rise located off Third Avenue, a building which, while it might lack the Ralph Lauren charm of a prewar, certainly isn’t one of those awful new condos built more like a Chrysler K-car. “The apartment has generous room sizes and really nice double Thermopane windows and wood floors,” said Mr. Beck. “The walls are gypsum block rather than what they use nowadays.” Up until eight years ago, the 20-story building was a rental; the sponsor renovated the units when it converted, so this apartment has a granite kitchen and marble baths. The buyers had called Mr. Beck about a duplex with a terrace that he had in the building, but he diverted them to this one. At first they demurred-“too small”-but once they saw the open views over landmarked town houses, they plunked down their postwar cash. Broker: Halstead Property Company (Henry Beck).
Upper West Side
41 West 96th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $549,000. Selling: $525,000.
Maintenance: $1,215; 23 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: five months.
EAST SIDERS GIVE UP AND EMIGRATE ACROSS PARK. “We had given up on the whole East Side,” said broker Carole Healy of the nice young family who had retained her services. They’d been renting in Carnegie Hill, but the gold rush prices in that neighborhood had made moving nearby impossible. “We couldn’t find a nice classic-six that we could afford.” Plus, East Side buildings can be snippy when it comes to financing; they tend to want it pretty much all in cash. So they ended up on the West Side, in this 16-story building built in 1925. They got the classic-six they wanted, with a formal dining room and a maid’s room, in a co-op that allows 80 percent financing. On the downside, there’s no fireplace, the bathrooms are original and the kitchen’s an antique. The place had been rented for years and years, so it needs a lot of renovation-but the walls and floors sure are nice. Broker: Corcoran Group (Carole Healy).
2250 Broadway, near 81st Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot postwar condo.
Asking: $625,000. Selling: $600,000.
Charges: $761. Taxes: $558.
Time on the market: one month.
JUDGING A NOOK BY ITS COVER. A group of low prewar buildings used to line Broadway between 80th and 81st streets where this condo high-rise now stands. They still exist, in Potemkin form: A developer in the late-1980’s hopped on the “facadism” bandwagon and built the high-rise behind the facades of the old buildings. This four-and-a-half-room apartment sits on the sixth floor, set back from the top of the prewar facades. Which gives the owners a swell 1,000-square-foot terrace-nearly as big as the rest of the apartment. “There’s a beautiful kitchen, new parquet floors, pocket doors and added molding,” said the broker, Lois Gomez. All of which the sellers added to make the apartment look less fresh-out-of-the-box. “The sellers gave it character. It’s what people complain about with the new buildings,” Ms. Gomez said. “I just bought one at the Dorchester and I did the same thing.” The buyers loved the fact that it was so thoroughly prettied-up, but they were really sold on the terrace. So they put down all cash and will never run out of paper clips again: Staples, the office products superstore, just rented the street-level space below them. Broker: Fenwick Keats Realty (Lois Gomez).
236 East 30th Street
3,240-square-foot prewar town house.
Asking: $1.25 million. Selling: $1.08 million.
Time on the market: three months
THE SECRET OF SECOND AVENUE. Who says you can’t live in high style just because you live between Second and Third avenues in Murray Hill and not on some cobblestone lane in TriBeCa? A Belgian graphic designer bought this 18-foot wide, circa-1870 town house a few years ago from a buyer who’d renovated the living daylights out of it. When that owner was done digging out the basement and combining it with the first floor, the Federal-style house had a 20-foot-high living room and a glass wall overlooking a two-tiered garden. The Belgian moved into the owner’s duplex on the first two floors (which includes the big living room) and rented out the two floor-through apartments upstairs. But he had to return home to his rainy little country, so he put the house up for sale and-ta-dah!-a Wall Street broker bought it. The rental units were delivered vacant, but no foul play was suspected. Broker: Massey Knakal Realty Services Inc. (John Ciraulo); Douglas Elliman (Nan Schiff)
37 West 12th Street (Butterfield House)
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,620-square-foot postwar co-op.
Asking: $700,000. Selling: $700,000.
Maintenance: $1,610; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two months.
SLICING THROUGH HOT BUTTERFIELD. Jack Nicholson pretended to live on this block of low 19th-century residential buildings in As Good as It Gets , and why not: Even Butterfield House, the one modern building on the block, is a beaut. Built in 1963, Butterfield House rises seven stories on the 12th Street side and juts up to 12 stories on 13th Street. The two sides are linked by a glass bridge and a courtyard paved in cocktail-culture abstraction. The whole place is very best-and-the-brightest: rational, elitist, respectful and, at the time, up to the minute. The owner of this unit, which is on the 13th Street side of the complex, died a few years ago. His nephew has been living there since but, much to his disappointment, the family decided to sell it. The buyer has big plans for the apartment, which, thanks to the nephew’s long tenancy, could use some freshening up. The buyer works in the design end of the garment industry; he took one look at the big casement-style windows and floor-through living and dining room, and said Yes! He paid the full asking price. As for the nephew, he had to move uptown. Broker: Corcoran (Meris Blumstein, Arlyne Blitz).