Indy In Chelsea

It may seem as if actor Harrison Ford is constantly moaning to the press that he’s never so happy as

It may seem as if actor Harrison Ford is constantly moaning to

the press that he’s never so happy as when he’s on his ranch in Jackson Hole,

Wyo., but the 59-year-old actor has just bought another apartment in Manhattan.

With kids in school in the city, Mr. Ford and his estranged wife,

Melissa Mathison, have had a rather proper Central Park West co-op for some

time. Now Mr. Ford has acquired a 5,000-square-foot penthouse near Sixth Avenue

in Chelsea that was asking $6.25 million. Broker Jan Hashey of Insignia Douglas

Elliman was the exclusive broker on the sale, which was final in January.

The Chelsea loft wasn’t the only downtown space Mr. Ford

considered. Brokers said he looked at a penthouseat420West Broadway, the old

home of Leo Castelli’s downtown gallery, as well as an apartment in the new

development at 19 Beach Street in Tribeca.

Mr. Ford has been staying at Soho’s Mercer Hotel while waiting

for his apartment to be ready. Since the space was delivered “raw,” Mr. Ford

has retained 1100 Architect-designers of the J. Crew, Armani and MoMA stores in

Soho, as well as the Greenwich Village residence of Eric Fischl and April

Gornik and Ross Bleckner’s six-story house on White Street in Tribeca-to design


According to plans filed with the city’s Department of Buildings,

Mr. Ford has obtained approval to configure the space with walls and bathrooms,

a chimney and fireplace as well as a stairway leading from the apartment to a

planned 3,500-square-foot roof deck. In the records, the cost of the basic

renovations will run about $250,000.

That won’t begin to cover the city boy’s décor.

House, Owners Part After Long Affair

After a 30-year romance, a spectacular yet worn 1905

Beaux Arts townhouse at 131 East 64th Street and its owner, Emmanuel Sella, an

immigrant businessman who had an amazing past himself, have parted ways.

Born in Lithuania in 1925, Sella stowed away on a ship

headed to Palestine and arrived in Tel Aviv just eight days before World War II

broke out, with very little more than the names and addresses of relatives sewn

into his pants’ pockets by his mother. He fought in an underground military

organization for Israeli independence, and at the age of 23 was appointed the commander

of the coastal defenses. After Israel was established as an independent state,

Sella worked for the Ministry of Labor in the development department. Soon

after, he landed a scholarship to study in the U.S., where he got a bachelor’s

degree from Syracuse and a Master’s of Arts from Harvard.

After moving to New

York, he founded the Amivest Corporation, an investment-management company that

acquired a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1973. One year prior to that,

he had acquired an Upper East Side townhouse for $325,000.

The 20-foot-wide, five-story house between Park and

Lexington avenues had been built in 1905 by architect Augustus N. Allen. The

façade is grand and elegant, with a large centered, segmented, arched entrance

with a wrought-iron front door, three-sided metal bay window on the second and

third floors and three balconies. Inside, the parlor floor has a circular music

room, a living room and a formal dining room. The third floor has two large

bedrooms and an outdoor terrace, and both the fourth and fifth floors have

three bedrooms.

Raising five children in the New York townhouse, Sella

also bought a house north of Tel Aviv and went on to help establish the first

supermarket chain in Israel; he also helped finance and build the Tel Aviv Hilton


In the early 90’s, he toyed with selling the 64th

Street house, located on a block where many houses have changed hands recently

for as much as $5.2 million. Townhouse brokers recall showing the five-story

home in 1995, but Nancy Candib of Brown Harris Stevens, who is handling the

property now, said the house was taken off the market after a month.

Sella passed away last June, and four months later his

widow put the house on the market for $6.9 million. In the second week of

January, the price was dropped to $5.9 million, and one week later a contract

was signed for close to the asking price.

According to Ms. Candib, the well-lived-in house has

great bones but needs updating. On the other hand, the buyer-a not-for-profit

foundation-was more interested in the large number of bedrooms that can be

turned into private offices. The buyers were represented by Leslie J. Garfield.

Sella’s widow, Aviva, is reluctantly looking for

another residence in the city-though, brokers said, it won’t be home.



Park Avenue

Two-bed, two-and-a-half-bath,

1,750-square-foot co-op.


$1.250 million. Selling: $1.125 million.


$1,657; 40 percent tax-deductible.


on the market: six weeks.

MIKE-MINDED Just as incoming Mayor

Michael Bloomberg couldn’t quite make his way around the idea of leaving his

lavish mansion near Fifth Avenue for creaky old yellow clapboard digs near a

dog run on East End Avenue, a Southern couple retiring to the city couldn’t imagine

themselves living in a white box. This apartment’s house-like orientation

lowered their blood pressure quite a bit. Located in a respectable but not too

fancy building near East 85th Street, this duplex co-op has a large foyer, a

dining room and a spiral staircase leading up to a second floor with two

bedrooms, each with its own full bath. According to broker Norma Hirsh of

Insignia Douglas Elliman, the couple had looked at several more claustrophobic

properties before deciding to buy this one, near their children’s homes.

Apparently, however, the couple also couldn’t imagine themselves haggling with

a New Yorker, as they paid the asking price for the apartment.


12 West 72nd Street (the Oliver Cromwell)

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

Asking: $699,000. Selling: $699,000.

Charges: $1,549; 68 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: six weeks.


IN PREWAR When it was built in the 1920’s by Emery Roth, this 30-story

building between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue seemed to be aiming to

house rulers of industry. Named after Oliver Cromwell-the 17th-century English

Civil War leader who, besides having King Charles I beheaded for treason, is

probably most famous for having the largest cranium of any English ruler

(though he refused the title of king himself, ruling England for 15 years as

its “Lord Protector”)-the building was called “one of Manhattan’s finest

free-standing towers of the 1920’s” by architecture writer Steven Ruttenbaum.

With its two-story arched entrance and opulent lobby, it lured a television and

film producer from her beloved neighborhood of Gramercy Park several years ago.

“She’s a prewar lover,” said broker Marcia Rosen-House, of Bellmarc Realty, of

her client. And while she may not be precisely the resident the architect had

in mind, the woman is ruled by her job. After taking pains to restore the very

traditional apartment-which has three exposures, high-beamed ceilings and now,

a new kitchen, renovated bathrooms and new wood floors-she was offered a job

out of town and put her apartment up for sale in August. According to Ms.

Rosen-House, for the seller “it was an opportunity to move up again.” She’s

found a gracious home down South.


77 East 12th Street

One-bed, one-bath, 650-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $349,000. Selling: $337,500.

Charges $638; 27 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one day.

GOING … GOING … GONE A native of Atlanta bought this apartment in 1998

and had been gradually renovating it himself. As if anticipating the downturn

in the economy, he moved in with roommates in Chelsea and started to collect

rent on the co-op. But last fall, when his tenant lost his job, instead of

finding a new tenant, the landlord decided to sell the place. He contacted

broker Margaret Heffernan, a neighbor, and asked her to help him sell the small

one-bedroom co-op-quick. With speed in mind, Ms. Heffernan said she priced the

apartment low, but when the place sold to a young couple who had been renting a

studio elsewhere in the building, the price dropped some more: The buyers were

able to negotiate the price down an additional $11,500. Though they may have

gotten a better deal, Ms. Heffernan said they are not the first renters to end

up buying an apartment in the building. “I had two sales last year to people

who were renting in this building,” she said. “All of our renters always seem

interested in buying here.”

Indy In Chelsea