You might think of Diane Sawyer and Mike Nichols as a power couple with everything: She’s the co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America , and his signature movie has been recycled as a play starring Kathleen Turner on Broadway.
But, apparently, there was something missing: a power apartment with a terrace overlooking Central Park.
They’ve been trying to fill the void for years, brokers say. In September of 1998, the couple signed a contract to buy Calvin Klein’s 4,500-square-foot apartment, with a large terrace and a private greenhouse, on the roof at 55 Central Park West for $7.5 million. But they were rejected by the co-op board-despite their agreeing to pay an additional $1 million to the building in order to purchase the apartment. Ever since, brokers have been showing the couple around, looking for something comparable.
In February, they agreed to pay a bit under $10 million for the duplex penthouse apartment in their very own building, 1030 Fifth Avenue, which is being sold by Robert Redford. The couple signed a contract to buy Mr. Redford’s apartment in mid-April, brokers say. A spokesperson for Mr. Nichols confirmed the deal.
The couple’s choice surprised some real-estate experts. Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer are trading significant interior square footage for outdoor space-Mr. Redford lives in an eight-room apartment, they currently live in a 12-room apartment-and Mr. Redford’s place has garnered some notoriety for being decorated in a Southwestern style that has turned off apartment shoppers. These considerations must have given the couple pause: They didn’t make an offer for the place until the price was dropped from $15 million to $11.5 million at the beginning of this year.
“I can’t believe it,” said one broker about the couple’s deal. The Redford apartment “is a total railroad flat. But they wanted terraces, and he’s got terraces.”
Now that they’ve finally found somewhere to move, Mr. Nichols and Ms. Sawyer have quietly put their apartment on a lower floor of 1030 Fifth on the market with Kathy Sloane of Brown, Harris, Stevens (the same broker who represented Mr. Redford) for $12.5 million.
Residential Developers Plan Huge Tribeca Building
One of downtown’s oldest family-run landholding companies, Ponte Equities Inc., has closed the largest real-estate deal in recent history in Tribeca, leasing out a series of contiguous properties-four buildings on 500,000 square feet of land-in the north end of Tribeca to a development team.
The Jack Parker Corporation, which is developing a 55-story residential tower at Eighth Avenue and 47th Street, and which developed and operates the Parker Meridien Hotel on 56th Street, net-leased the land for 102 years for a one-time payment in excess of $25 million and an undisclosed annual sum.
But Parker hasn’t decided yet what to do with the property-except to demolish the buildings and build something from the ground up.
Andy Gerringer, the Insignia Douglas Elliman broker who represented Parker in the deal, said his client had been negotiating with the Pontes for over two years. He said Parker had initially imagined a mixed-use, residential and retail complex on the site, which is bounded by the Hudson River and Canal, Greenwich and Desbrosses streets.
But shortly after Sept. 11, several firms who lost space in the World Trade Center attack reportedly lobbied Parker and Ponte to close the deal quickly and make way for office buildings. Mr. Gerringer said it wasn’t clear how Parker-which is mostly a residential developer-would use the land.
“It’s kind of off the beaten path, and it’s gonna make itself its own little community over there,” said Mr. Gerringer. “It will be interesting to see at the end of the day what this becomes.”
The Ponte family-owners of vast commercial and manufacturing properties as well as the restaurant Filli Ponte in Tribeca-had a windfall when developers started sniffing around the neighborhood for factories that could be turned into luxury lofts. Initially, however, Angelo Ponte, the family patriarch, was unwilling to sell. But in 1997, when he was convicted and sentenced in the extensive prosecution of a mob-run garbage-hauling cartel, the family started making deals. That year, they sold a former coffee and tea warehouse at 62 Beech Street for $40 million to a developer who turned it into luxury condos, calling it the Fischer Mills building. The apartments, starting at $790,000, quickly sold out.
But under law, the Jack Parker Corporation can’t build condominiums on its new site, since it is leased land. According to Mr. Gerringer, the company is working with architects and planners to develop different possible uses for the site, including luxury rental residences.
The sale of the property opens up the northern end of Tribeca to monumental change-the Pontes had to vacate all of the manufacturing tenants in the buildings to finalize the deal-and is likely to raise eyebrows among community groups, like those in the meatpacking district, that are trying to maintain manufacturing districts in Manhattan.
Mr. Gerringer said the developers had not approached the local community board with any plans as of yet.
400 East 52nd Street Two-bed, two-bath, 1,250-square-foot co-op. Asking: $695,000. Selling: $690,000. Maintenance: $1,905; 50 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: three months.
MAN AND MOM HIT MANHATTAN When a guy in his 40’s from Atlanta got transferred to Manhattan, he had to figure out how to make everything from his 4,000-square-foot house fit into a New York City apartment-especially his mom, who lives with him. Two bedrooms, according to Naomi Davis, managing director of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, was the minimum requirement. They looked on the Upper West Side, but eventually found the right combination of space and price in this building on 52nd Street between First Avenue and the F.D.R. Drive, one of five buildings designed by apartment designer Emery Roth for the builders Bing & Bing in the late 20’s and early 30’s.
845 United Nations Plaza (Trump World Tower)
Three-bed, three-and-a-half-bath, 2,863-square-foot condo. Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $3.7 million. Charges: $2,008. Taxes: $4,668. Time on the market: three months.
HE’S KING OF THE WORLD! Apartments on the top floors of the Trump World Tower near 47th Street, the tallest residential building in Manhattan, are not the easiest sell these days. So if you want one, now’s the time to strike. A real-estate investor did just that when a businessman who lives overseas, and who’d never lived in this 83rd-floor World Tower condo, put the apartment on the market with Michael Shvo of Insignia Douglas Elliman. The place hadn’t generated much interest until the investor came to see it, sat down on the floor, took in the views that Mr. Shvo said “stretch all the way to the ocean” and decided to take it. Of course, that wasafterhe was able to get thesellerto drop his price by $800,000. The investor will move into the place-but only temporarily. According to Mr. Shvo, he intends to sit tight only until he can flip the place for a profit.
300 West 23rd Street One-bed, one-bath, 900-square-foot co-op. Asking: $745,000. Selling: $720,000. Maintenance: $1,580; 55 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: one month.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT OR BUST Is it possible to find a high-style home in the suburbs? The sellers of this apartment, which was featured in Interior Design magazine in September of 1998, were wondering just that very thing. When they made the decision to leave the city, they gave themselves a year to find something they could imagine living in. Almost immediately they found a Frank Lloyd Wright house and bought it on the spot. All that was left was getting rid of this place, which should have been easy considering that it’s on 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue-a prime Chelsea location-the building was designed by Emery Roth (see 52nd Street, above), and the place is on a high floor with a large wraparound terrace. Then again, the co-op board turned down the first buyer. Again, this couple just seems lucky: Almost immediately a second buyer turned up who was willing to pay about $20,000 more, and the co-op board greenlighted the deal. The sellers were represented by Ed Ferris, vice president of William B. May; the buyer was represented by Nancy Fisher of D.J. Knight & Company.
889 Broadway Two-bed, two-bath, 2,000-square-foot co-op. Asking: $1.65 million. Selling: $1.47 million. Maintenance: $751; 50 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: three months.
Couples only A guy in his 30’s bought this 2,000-square-foot loft on Broadway and 19th Street about two years ago. He promptly hired an architect and redid the place entirely-putting in a brand-new kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, and creating a den with custom built-ins out of a second bedroom. The renovation was high-style enough to be featured in architectural magazines, but last summer-after the seller got married and decided it was time to start a family-his fancy loft suddenly didn’t seem so appealing. “This space was really done for a couple, not for a family,” said Gabriella Winter, a senior vice president at the Corcoran Group, who sold this place with her partner Alex Nicholas, also of the Corcoran Group. The couple just couldn’t bring themselves to tear down the den with the built-ins. Instead, they put the place on the market in August, and by early December found a buyer who wanted something “special.” According to Ms. Winter, he will make a few changes, but only after consulting with the architect.