Web-Site Upstart Tries to Fill David Bowie’s Loft

Greenwich Village


fallen to earth. Internet executives are living like rock stars. Or at

least trying to.

On Feb. 26, Michael Odell, a vice president at Sapient

Corporation–a Cambridge, Mass.-based Internet systems builder and

software developer that made the 1998 Forbes 200 list of small

companies to watch–paid about $1.85 million for David Bowie’s

5,000-square-foot, ninth-floor condo at 704 Broadway, near East Fourth

Street. And he’s using it as a pied-à-terre .

On the other hand, Mr. Bowie and his wife, Iman, who bought the

apartment just a year ago for $1.5 million, just made $400,000 off the

Internet e-commerce upstart.

When the couple purchased the loft in 1998, the space was practically

raw, except for two bathrooms and a very minimalist kitchen. At the time,

the couple planned to renovate extensively. But as rock stars and models

are wont to do, the couple changed their minds and put the condo back on

the market last October for $2 million. That same month, they signed a

contract to buy two apartments at 285 Lafayette Street for $4 million. That

deal on their latest acquisition is expected to close as early as the end

of April, when the building, which is currently under renovation, will

receive a preliminary certificate of occupancy.

A source close to the deal said that Mr. Odell lives primarily in

Massachusetts, but will use the Manhattan apartment for his frequent visits

to the Jersey City, N.J., office. The Internet executive’s new space

contains at least 15 windows that provide panoramic views and plenty of

light. Despite the raw condition, one broker called the place

“magnificent.” Another called it a bargain–even at $400,000

more than Mr. Bowie paid. “He really stole it, because it’s not

going to take that much money to do,” said the broker. “It needs

decorating more than anything else.”

Neither Mr. Bowie or Mr. Odell could be reached for comment. Dolly Lenz,

the buyer’s broker, could not be reached for comment.

Bridge Is Out for Mottola’s $9.75 Million Beachfront

What Sony Music Entertainment’s chief executive, Tommy Mottola,

isn’t advertising as he tries to sell his embattled North Haven

beachfront estate at 16 Ferry Road for $9.75 million is that major roadwork

will certainly prolong the dreaded Friday-evening commute of any

prospective new owner.

Luckily for Mr. Mottola, the two-year demolition and reconstruction of

the bridge that connects North Haven to Sag Harbor by the state’s

Department of Transportation was recently postponed from June to Labor Day.

But the project, which will reduce traffic on the bridge to one lane,

lengthening the commute to Mr. Mottola’s house, even in the Hamptons

off-season. The only possible way to avoid the bridge is a 20-minute detour

through Noyac, according to local real estate sources.

Eileen Peters, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said,

“The bridge is scheduled for total replacement, done in what we call

stage construction, i.e., traffic is going to be maintained. Come Labor

Day, there will be just one lane that will be controlled by a signal.”

In other words, traffic moving in one direction will be held up while the

opposite line of traffic passes.

The partial bridge closing is yet another Hamptons headache for Mr.

Mottola, who endured months of costly renovations on the house after

purchasing it for $2.1 million in 1997; reports say Mr. Mottola spent

millions and doubled the square footage of the house. In 1998, Mr. Mottola

entered into a prolonged tiff with local authorities and the Department of

Environmental Conservation over the building of a 233-foot boat pier in the

harbor, where the owner could dock jet skis and cigarette boats. Mr.

Mottola’s lawyers are appealing a D.E.C. ruling denying him permission

to construct a 198-foot pier, a compromise he made with the town of North


The bridge, known locally as the Route 114 Short Bridge, should be

completed by May 2001. Margaret Griffin, a broker with Allan M. Schneider

Associates who is marketing the property for Mr. Mottola, did not return

calls seeking comment.

Upper West Side

333 Central Park West (Turin), near 93rd Street

Three-bed, two-bath, 2,000-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $1.295 million. Selling: $1.1 million.

Charges: $1,633; 45 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

THE LAST CROSSTOWN BUS. Last spring, a family of four decided to sell their

Upper East Side co-op and move across the park, where their two kids attend

elementary school. They looked at a fifth-floor apartment at 333 Central

Park West that needed a total renovation. When finally they were able to

sell their apartment, they discovered that a similar, eight-room apartment

was for sale one floor down. It was comparably priced, and in better

condition, so the family put in a bid on it and purchased it, for $1.1

million. But the renovations are substantial enough to keep them on the

East Side for a few more months. That means another semester of crosstown

carpooling. But by June, they’ll be forwarding their mail. Broker:

Gumley Haft Kleier Inc. (Roberta Title); Prudential M.L.B. Kaye

International Realty (Stephanie Lord de Lan).

50 West 86th Street

Five-story town house.

Asking: $2.95 million. Selling: $2.7 million.

Time on the market: three months.

TAG-TEAM LANDLORDS. Two married actors from New Jersey have considered this

house–and long-distance landlording–their favorite hobby for the

last 25 years. When it came to the place’s upkeep, they were

solicitous to a fault. “If somebody spilled something in the hallway,

rather than just shampoo the carpet, they would replace all the carpet in

the halls,” said Nat Rockett, the broker who marketed the building for

the sellers. The building, near Columbus Avenue, has nine residential

units, and a professional office on the ground floor. Now, as

septuagenarians, the husband and wife decided to trade in their

supplemental income for full-time retirement. But they were determined to

find a new owner–and landlord–who was just as enthusiastic about

overseeing the building as they were. In fact, they found a couple who

wanted to be an on-site landlord. The engaged pair, who also have an estate

in Bernardsville, N.J., and a house in Key Largo, Fla., are already living

in the third-floor unit, which has two bedrooms, two baths and a patio.

Broker: Massey Knakal Realty Services (Nat Rockett); Susan Robbins Realty

Inc. (Susan Robbins).

East Village

220 East Fifth Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,150-square-foot condo.

Asking: $495,000. Selling: $450,000.

Charges: $341. Taxes: $308.

Time on the market: six weeks.

GREED IS CONTAGIOUS. Some of us get to live on East Fifth Street. Others

have to go to India to try to eradicate tuberculosis. A doctor with an

international health organization bought this apartment near Second Avenue

in 1991 for $261,500, but a few summers ago, he signed up for a

disease-fighting mission and he and his family shipped off to India. After

leasing the space for a couple of years to two bankers from the

Netherlands, the doctor finally made up his mind to sell it. The

apartment–with two skylights, hardwood floors, 12-foot ceilings and a

450-square-foot terrace off the master suite on the second floor of a

brownstone–engaged four parties in a drawn-out bidding session. In

other words, the couple who bought the place started at $400,000, and

slowly, torturously, inched up to $450,000, at which point the doctor

relented. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Ed Hardesty).

West Village

23 Perry Street

Four-story town house.

Asking: $2.2 million. Selling: $2 million.

Time on the market: three weeks.

LIKE STEALING FROM A CHURCH St. John’s Episcopal Church, the Waverly

Place house of worship that owned this house and seven others in the

vicinity for much of this century, sold 23 Perry Street, near West Fourth

Street, to a couple in 1983 for $350,000. The previous year, the church had

lost a three-year lawsuit filed by tenants who were miffed by its attempt

to raise their stabilized rents. For legal reasons, the couple converted

the building into a co-op. Still, they rented four of the five units to

tenants, one of whom stuck around for 15 more years, and kept just one

studio for themselves when they came into town from upstate Larchmont. They

also shared a common garden in back with the church and other residents of

the block. When they moved to Mt. Kisco, though, they became more

interested in the building’s earnings potential. An investor who will

gut-renovate the entire place into one private residence paid them $2

million. Broker: William B. May Real Estate (Jane Forman); Douglas Elliman

(Virginia Livingston).

40 Leroy Street

Four-story town house.

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

Time on the market: two weeks.


broker Leslie Mason was hired to sell the Leroy Street town house of

Village antiques dealer James Ray, who died last spring. Around the same

time, professional partygiver Andy King learned that the rent on his Prince

Street penthouse–a 2,000-square-foot former architect’s office

that he had renovated into a state-of-the-art party locale–was going

to nearly triple. He, too, sought Ms. Mason’s real estate expertise.

She took him to a 13,000-square-foot town house on Waverly Place, and Mr.

King had visions of building several discrete units for himself and his

friends with a lobby-style chef’s kitchen and concierge desk. But the

deal quickly became mired in legal questions–foremost among them, what

to do with the rent- controlled tenants living in those

as-yet-nondiscrete units–and eventually Mr. King threw his hands up in

despair. Next stop: the Ray house near Bedford Street, which was still

crammed with the dealer’s personal collection. “I have a huge

fascination for antiques,” said Mr. King, “so I was sort of like

a child in a candy store. Every crack and crevice, every part of the house,

was filled with these goodies. I just wanted to buy everything in the

place.” After placing an official $1.4 million bid in the house, Mr.

King placed some bids on the antiques, too. As he breaks ground on a gut

renovation of his new acquisition, he’s still holding out for a

Steinway piano that Leonard Bernstein is rumored to have composed upon.

Broker: Douglas Elliman (Leslie Mason).

Web-Site Upstart Tries to Fill David Bowie’s Loft