A Rent Star Moves to Swank NoHo Loft

NoHo

Anthony Rapp, the star of the young-and-dirty Broadway revue Rent , came to the bohemian blockbuster honestly: For several years, he lived in an East Village squat one block from the setting of the show. “We didn’t have anyone to pay rent to for about three years,” said Mr. Rapp, who’s in the London production of the show right now. “Since I was out of work for much of that time, it was convenient.” Except that the shower and buzzers were broken and they had to deal with the garbage themselves.Though it’s out of character, Mr. Rapp has become a success, and decided it’s time to get someone else to deal with the garbage. He just paid $375,000 for a 1,200-square-foot loft in an 1879 building on Bond Street near Lafayette Street, across from the chi-chi Japanophile restaurant, Bond.

“He was looking for prewar charm–a unique, older space,” said Edmund Lo, a broker with Susan Penzner Real Estate. So Mr. Lo showed the actor a loft the broker himself owned. Mr. Lo bought the apartment after the building’s sponsor went bankrupt. “It hadn’t been painted for 10 or 12 years,” he said. “The white walls had turned yellow.” And since only one side of the loft faces Bond Street, it was pretty dark. Mr. Lo set to work gussying the place up, lining the bathroom with white marble, replacing the pipes with shiny nickel ones, putting in a white-on-white kitchen, putting a high-gloss finish on the floor “so the lights bounce,” installing a washer and dryer and adding a walk-in closet.

“It was a bit of a stretch,” said Mr. Rapp. “But rent is getting so nuts these days.”

Harlem

517 West 142nd Street

3,600-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $379,000. Selling: $360,000.

Time on the market: 10 months.

THE MAN UNDER THE MODEL. A model bought this town house, which is just east of Broadway on a block in historic Hamilton Heights lined with homes designed by the same guy who did Grant’s Tomb. “A tall and tan-skinned beauty,” said Willie Kathryn Suggs, the broker who sold the place to her. The model’s home is a pre-renovated, four-story brick and limestone structure that’s divided into a garden-level rental apartment–some guys have all the luck!–beneath a 2,700-square-foot owner’s triplex. When the seller-renovators, a Columbia University professor and a painter, bought it in 1981 for $35,000, “it was a garbage dump,” said Ms. Suggs. They renovated a bit of modernism into the former rooming house–by blowing out the walls on the third floor to make it a loftlike master bedroom, for example. The wife used one floor as a studio, and the husband could walk to campus. But just to remind themselves of all the work they did, they didn’t strip or refinish the pocket doors–”You pull them out and go, eeeew!” said the broker. The couple is off to their next project, an old wreck in Maryland. Broker: Willie Kathryn Suggs Licensed Real Estate.

Upper East Side

115 East 87th Street

Three-bed, 3.5-bath, 2,300-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $1.5 million. Selling: $1.4 million.

Charges: $2,518; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three weeks.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE–AND PLENTY OF DROPS TO DRINK! The young couple who bought this apartment really wanted views, and they couldn’t pass up the three different exposures in this apartment, from which you can see the blue surface of the Central Park Reservoir. They were also on the rebound, having just missed another apartment they wanted. So they saw the view and went low at $1.3 million, $200,000 below the asking price. While they waited for a certificate of occupancy, another interested shopper upped the ante to $1.5 million. The seller said to the young lovebirds, Match that! They came close enough. They and their baby boy are moving in any day now. Broker: William B. May Company (Stacey Gero); Corcoran Group (Pat Palermo).

East 70’s and Second Avenue

One-bed, 1.5-bath, 1,100-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $375,000. Selling: $375,000.

Charges: $1,085; 56 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three days.

BUILDING BEDROOM WALLS? It’s not easy finding a two-bedroom on the Upper East Side for around $400,000 these days. Just ask the buyer of this apartment, a single woman who was feeling squeezed in her one-bedroom in the East 50’s and simply could not find two-bedrooms in her budget. But over dinner, a friend suggested that she change her focus: Why not just seek out a larger one-bedroom, further uptown? And the tale ended happily: The buyer is renovating a one-bedroom unit on the high floor of an East Side postwar co-op. Broker: William B. May (Jane Goldberg); Gumley Haft Klier Inc. (Susan Cannold).

Upper West Side

165 West 66th Street (Lincoln Terrace)

One-bed, one-bath, 950-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $369,000. Selling: $384,000.

Charges: $1,070; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: four days.

CYBERCOUPLE DOWNLOADS A ONE-BEDROOM. “It was kind of funny,” said Jim Gricar, the broker who sold this apartment to a married couple relocating from Chicago. “We have a pretty nice Web site, and they had done some Net surfing, looking for apartments. And literally two hours after I posted the apartment, they called me. The husband flew in the next day and camcorded it, Fed-Exed it to the wife in Chicago, and they put in a bid on it … It was amazing how fast it was!” These high-tech folks knew just what they wanted: He’s an investment banker, just out of business school; she’s a stage actress, undoubtedly dazzled by the lure of Broadway. Since they had been apartment-searching for a couple of months, they jumped on the right place when they saw it on the computer screen. As Mr. Gricar put it, “They weren’t shopping. They were looking to buy.” Now that’s a mantra for the 90’s! Broker: Corcoran (Jim Gricar).

1 Central Park West (Trump International Hotel & Tower)

Two-bed, 2.5-bath, 1,444-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $1.275 million. Selling: $1.1 million.

Charges: $817. Taxes: $662.

Time on the market: nine months.

HERE COMES HONG KONG! A Hong Kong-based garment industry executive and his wife had been using a hotel room in this Trump Building as a pied-à-terre for their frequent visits to the city, but they finally decided to swing the hotel room to the husband’s employer for corporate use and themselves plunked down a cool million for a real pad in the same building. “He does production for one of the major designer chains, so he comes here all the time,” explained broker Carrie Chiang. She added that the last year has been a busy one for the Trump building; it opened in 1997, and she’s made three sales in the last six months. This apartment was used as a model, so technically it’s been on the market since November. Broker: Corcoran (Carrie Chiang).

Midtown

57 West 58th Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 907-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $305,000. Selling: $305,000.

Charges: $616. Taxes: $257.

Time on the market: three weeks.

HEY, MOM, ISN’T PLANET HOLLYWOOD RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER? For fans of midtown, this relatively quiet block below Central Park South makes for a great location. The buyer of this apartment, an empty nester moving into Manhattan from New Jersey, had no specific neighborhood in mind, and her broker thought the apartment was a great deal, so they went for it. Since the buyer has two kids, one of them still in college and prone to visit, the spare bedroom was a must. Additional perks: quick subway commute to the buyer’s downtown government office; proximity to Central Park. Possible drawbacks: proximity to malodorous horse-and-carriage hub and to 57th Street tourist tsunamis. Broker: William B. May (Tina Essex); Marilyn Korn.

Gramercy Park

136-8 East 19th Street

7,900-square-foot prewar town house.

Asking: $3.5 million. Selling: $3.05 million.

Time on the market: one month.

TURNING A MANSION BACK INTO A HOUSE (OR TWO). Remember a few years back when large buildings that used to be mansions way back in New York’s Gilded Age served as functional workplaces for organizations? Well, these days, anything with running water and charm is getting snapped up as residences for new millionaires. Take this mansion, in the once-sleepy neighborhood between Irving Place and Third Avenue, which served as headquarters for the nonprofit Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services. With its six-window width and spacious parlor with big fireplace, it was only a matter of time before someone said, Hey, I wouldn’t mind living there. Of course, maybe the stars were just aligned: Last year, the Public Theater’s artistic director, George C. Wolfe, bought and renovated ballet guru Lincoln Kirstein’s $1.75 million house, just down the block; Foreigner’s guitarist-turned-socialite-house-husband Mick Jones and his wife, Anne Jones, recently dropped $2 million-plus on a house on nearby Stuyvesant Square; and Oleg Cassini also resides within hailing distance. So the board let the building be restored to deluxe residential use. The buyers plan to split the building into two houses. “Some people were looking at making it a one-family home,” said Leslie Garfield, whose firm sold the place. But, “they brought architects through and got scared.” This is the second time the area has been revived: In the first decade of this century, architect Frederick Sterner set about restoring the block of 1850’s houses, in what is described as one of the first examples of urban gentrification. At that time, it attracted buyers such as muckraking author Ida Tarbell and painters George Bellows and Robert Winthrop Chanler. And note that if the price of about $3 million seems low, the deal was closed a year ago. “The seller hadn’t found a space they wanted to move to,” said Mr. Garfield. “The sales price is no reflection of the present market.” Broker: Leslie J. Garfield & Company (Toni Simon).

Corrections

Last week, this column incorrectly reported that broker Joanne Greene worked with the Corcoran Group; she works with William B. May Real Estate.

In the July 27 issue, Manhattan Transfers reported that several sources said that the person who recently signed a contract to buy Lady Fairfax’s penthouse at the Pierre Hotel was private security magnate Thomas O’Gara. At that time, Mr. O’Gara was not available for comment. As it turns out, he is not the buyer.

A Rent Star Moves to Swank NoHo Loft