Ziggy in SoHo! David Bowie Buys Two Penthouses for $4 Million



DAVID BOWIE, FICKLE LOFT BUYER, SIGNS $4 MILLION DEAL ON LAFAYETTE STREET. Rock star David Bowie has signed a contract to purchase two penthouses under construction at 285 Lafayette Street between Prince and Houston streets for $4 million, according to real estate sources. Meanwhile, Mr. Bowie’s 5,200-square-foot loft at 704 Broadway–purchased just last February for $1.5 million but never lived in–is back on the market for $1.85 million.

The two apartments Mr. Bowie has agreed to buy at 285 Lafayette Street, which total about 5,300 square feet, are part of an Upstairs, Downstairs scenario being created by Allied Partners Inc., the developer who purchased the building’s mortgage in 1994. Allied is constructing 21 new luxury condos atop six stories of artist-in-residence lofts, inhabited by loft law-era tenants. The construction is under way, but the city’s Department of Buildings will not issue a certificate of occupancy until it can inspect the finished work.

“We started with 21 units; we have two left,” said Eric Hadar, Allied’s president.

“It’s quite a phenomenon for this developer,” said Robert Eychner, a Manhattan developer familiar with the building, “who came along and was able to negotiate with a number of inside tenants who are really old SoHo original artists.” The tenants are even pitching in to help pay for refurbishing the lobby and installing new elevators.

To be able to charge millions of dollars per new apartment, Allied Partners has renovated the building’s Lafayette Street entrance, making it the building’s primary address, rather than 271 Mulberry Street, the former address. Allied is installing Rutt custom cabinetry in the kitchens, custom-made French tile, polished nickel vanities and Brazilian hardwood floors, in addition to restoring 1890’s-period details, like exposed wood beams and cast-iron columns.

Mets catcher Mike Piazza passed through Unit 8D, available for $3.5 million, in early November, but decided not to buy–yet.

Diane Villani, a longtime resident of 285 Lafayette, seemed nonplussed by her new celebrity neighbors. “I’m never going to see them,” she said. “I mean, how much time is David Bowie going to spend in this building?”

Mr. Bowie’s purchase is supposed to be final in April, when the construction is expected to be finished. A spokesman for Mr. Bowie said, “We usually don’t report on the personal lives of our clients.”


475 West 141st Street

Four-story town house.

Asking: $375,000. Selling: $342,000.

Time on the market: 1.5 years.

MARILYN MONROE GOES ON NIGHTLY. “I guess I watched a lot of old movies with grand staircases,” said Christine Dannic, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, left, who bought this Hamilton Heights brownstone on Dec. 29 with Michael O’Connell, the man she lives with. “I was always interested in a big house, and I grew up in Westchester in a beautiful English Tudor.” For years, Ms. Dannic and Mr. O’Connell, who himself used to build houses in Westchester, hunted for a four-story brownstone, with nearly 100 years under its belt, that still had all the original detailing. And every day Ms. Dannic would ride the bus from Riverdale to Manhattan–where, in addition to her Norma Jean gig in Atlantic City casinos, she performs on stage and in films–and watch longingly as rows of old-style houses whizzed by. The properties along Fifth Avenue in the 120’s got her particularly interested in Harlem: “I saw all these abandoned, gorgeous brownstones.” Broker Willie Kathryn Suggs showed the couple this house. Since the entire street is landmarked–that means no parking is allowed–the house’s concave facade had never been touched. The couple plans to restore the whole place, starting with replacing the coach lights out front. After that, they’ll work on the original wood floors and modernize the kitchen, “because you have to have that,” said Ms. Dannic, who is otherwise an architectural purist. She’s already set up a baby grand piano with a mike attached: “Me and all of my show-biz friends can put on a show at will.” And if the couple meets their March 17 deadline to finish the refurbishing–he’s Irish, and she’s half-Irish, so St. Patrick’s Day seemed a significant crossroads–they want to throw a big, Hollywood-style party with valet parking. Broker: Willie Kathryn Suggs.

Upper East Side

340 East 80th Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 900-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking: $329,000. Selling: $310,000.

Charges: $910; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

COUPLE TAKES A PENALTY FOR SKIPPING TOWN. The sellers of this Upper East Side two-bedroom apartment found the market a little too buyer-friendly. They were originally asking $399,000, but had to lower the price to $329,000 just to get a conversation started with a buyer. Then a young couple–a man who works at Goldman, Sachs & Company and his wife, a graphic artist, who had been renting an apartment on West 69th Street–haggled the price down to $310,000. The sellers, a young couple expecting their second child, were headed to Harrison, N.Y. Broker: Corcoran Group (Gary Brynes).

115 East 67th Street

Three-bed, 5.5-bath, 3,800-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $2.5 million. Selling: $2.2 million.

Charges: $3,616; 25 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: six months.

WHERE ROCKEFELLERS USED TO REIGN. Building legend has it that venture capitalist Laurance Rockefeller once lived in this large duplex apartment. In Mr. Rockefeller’s day, apartments in the building were hard to come by. Now, with more and more Hunter College co-eds wandering about, it can be a little noisy inside, and this apartment’s prewar detailing has been all but lost. Upstairs, walls have been knocked down to create a double-sized master suite with a small office space with built-in furniture. Broker: Halstead Property Company (Ellen Goldberg); Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales (Guida DeCarvalhosa).

High East 60’s off Fifth Avenue

Five-story town house.

Asking: $7.350 million. Selling: $8 million.

Time on the market: three weeks.

OOPS, A BIDDING WAR! DID I DO THAT? While a little pre-open-house cosmetic work was underway in this 16-room, 25-foot-wide house in July and August, broker Lauren Muss couldn’t resist giving two or three interested parties sneak previews. But not until Sept. 23, when the renovations were complete, did she give a serious tour to a single man. Ten days later, he made a $7 million offer. Thinking the bid was pretty attractive, the seller accepted. But another two days later, on Oct. 6, a second bidder upped the ante to $7.4 million. Since there was no contract in writing yet, the seller decided to let the two parties do battle. When the original bidder beat the $7.4 million offering price, Ms. Muss decided to end the torture by asking each bidder to submit an offer in writing. The single man’s bid came in low. “When you have a property of this price, you have to be very careful in a bidding war,” said Ms. Muss. “What’s very important is not playing each buyer against the other … This way, they’re playing against themselves.” The wounded party accepted defeat. And to the high bidder, victory was sweet–sort of. “We basically said they had by the end of the day to give us a nonrefundable 10 percent deposit.” Broker: Halstead (Lauren Muss).

Upper West Side

West 76th Street near Broadway

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

Asking: $465,000. Selling: $448,000.

Charges: $952; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

A LIFETIME SUPPLY OF SNAPPLE IN EXCHANGE FOR THE BLUEPRINTS After two years of living in this prewar apartment and renovating his heart out, an architect set out for… Long Island. The maplewood floors and marble-and-slate fixtures were “very mod” and “very austere,” according to the seller’s broker, but they clearly spoke to the buyer, a single man in the beverage business who was being transferred from Florida. The buyer was so anxious, he moved into the place just one day after the Oct. 28 closing–before the furniture had even arrived. Broker: William B. May Company (Jane Goldberg); Douglas Elliman (Adele Brechner).

1965 Broadway (Grand Millennium)

Three-bed, three-bath, 1,857-square-foot condo.

Asking: $1.208 million. Selling: $1.124 million.

Charges: $785. Taxes: $1,665.

Time on the market: four months.

TUCKED IN FOR THE MILLENNIUM. A commercial real estate developer was relocating from Atlanta, so it was either Times Square or Lincoln Square. Hey, the guy’s got a family. The family focused on the Grand Millennium apartment building between 66th and 67th streets–atop Tower Records and otherwise surrounded by the rapidly growing Upper West Side mini-mall. The apartment has three bedrooms, so the kids can’t wait for their older sister to head off to college in a few months. Neither can the parents. Just when everything seemed as peachy as it was in Atlanta–aah!–Howard Stern lives a stone’s throw away at the Millennium Tower, on 67th Street between Broadway and Columbus Avenue. Not to mention Jerry Seinfeld wandering around. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Jean Segal).

Battery Park City

377 Rector Place (Liberty House)

Three-bedroom, 1,964-square-foot condo.

Asking price: $850,000. Selling price: $820,000.

Charges: $1,587. Taxes: $1,352.

Time on the market: one month.

INVESTOR GETS OUT OF THE RENTING GAME. An investor bought three third-floor, one-bedroom apartments in this building in 1987–and had been renting them each for between $3,000 and $2,500. In the fall of 1998, he decided to sell them. (Does he know something about the out-of-reach rental market no one else does?) A family native to Battery Park City–well, they’ve lived there for three years and they want to stay, anyway–decided to buy them and make one large apartment. Despite the construction that will be involved, the kids can remain in the same highly touted school district. Broker: D.J. Knight & Company (Pierre Moran).


Last week, Manhattan Transfers inaccurately reported that a condominium at the Mondrian sold for $1.25 million. The actual selling price was $1.987 million. The Observer regrets the error.

Ziggy in SoHo! David Bowie Buys Two Penthouses for $4 Million