Crash Kors

In yet another indicator that Manhattan’s luxury-home market is reaching new highs, buoyed by a streaking Dow and a post-Saddam-capture

In yet another indicator that Manhattan’s luxury-home market is reaching new highs, buoyed by a streaking Dow and a post-Saddam-capture confidence, even celebrities are being outbid on high-priced apartments. One of the most unique addresses in the West Village, owned by advertising magnate Michael Cox, a six-room duplex home atop the historic Bing and Bing building at 2 Horatio Street, just went to contract for $4.5 million, after a bidding war left fashion designer Michael Kors out in the December cold. Peter Kellner, a technology entrepreneur from San Francisco, snapped up the contract, bidding more than $500,000 above the asking price.

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Mr. Cox, the chief executive of Cox Advertising, whose clients include Finnair, the New School University and Monte Carlo Designs, was relocating to North Carolina and put his apartment on the market in November for $3.95 million. The listing promptly attracted a parade of prospective celebrity buyers, including American Beauty director and Kate Winslet beau Sam Mendes, former tennis ace Jim Courier and the guy who outbid Mr. Kors.

Paul Purcell, of the real-estate consulting firm Braddock and Purcell, who represented Ms. Cox, declined to comment.

The high-profile buyers were drawn to the dramatic sweep of the 1,800-square-foot apartment atop the storied Art Deco building in the heart of the West Village. The two-bedroom apartment offers 360-degree panoramic views of downtown and a variety of New York landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, from its 2,000 square feet of terrace. Other luxury amenities include two bathrooms on the lower floor, an upstairs living room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, a third bathroom and a windowed kitchen.

Ryan Fix, a broker at Douglas Elliman (DOUG) with the exclusive, declined to comment. Mr. Kors was traveling and unavailable for comment.

Vogue publisher Thomas Florio has found himself a timeless refuge from the fast-paced, fashion-forward frenzy of the Condé Nast building: a townhouse in Carnegie Hill.

City records show that Mr. Florio and his wife, Lori Zelikow, the former publisher of New Woman magazine, purchased a 17-foot-wide townhouse on a quiet tree-lined block for $3.5 million, not far from Woody Allen’s stately Upper East Side mansion, which was recently asking $27 million. Actually, Mr. Florio’s wife made the purchase.

“I was on a business trip. My wife bought it,” Mr. Florio said from his 4 Times Square office, speaking of the recent purchase. The Florios had lived in an apartment in the neighborhood for 11 years before buying a single-family home.

“We love the neighborhood,” Mr. Florio said. “It’s great for families, and our family is growing, so we need more space. And a townhouse is a great value.”

Mr. Florio will occupy the townhouse with his wife and their three children. “The schools in the neighborhood are a big plus,” he added.

Thomas Wexler, the director of townhouses for the Corcoran Group who had the exclusive, did not return calls seeking comment.

The four-floor house has a landscaped garden, set-back terrace and library. Mr. Florio said that the garden, like the neighborhood’s quiet atmosphere, was a big attraction. “We wanted a garden, and we’ll probably get a dog now,” he said.

Recent Transactions in the Real Estate Market


166 Bank Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $1.695 million. Selling: $1.6 million.

Maintenance: $1,140; 52 percent tax-deductible.

Time on market: two weeks.

Googleplex When you want to sell a Manhattan apartment, try Google. That’s what this retired mother who lives in Arizona did when she decided to unload her 2,200-square-foot loft on a prime block in the leafy West Village. Living across the country, she scoured the Internet and researched brokers’ profiles until she found a satisfactory agent. She’d bought the apartment 20 years ago and had seen the neighborhood develop from barren streets near the West Side Highway to the café- and-boutique-filled neighborhood that it is today. “When the owners moved into this loft 20 years ago, they were truly pioneers. There were prostitutes on the street; now it’s an entirely different place,” said Douglas Elliman vice president Leonard Steinberg, who had the exclusive with his partner, Hervé Senequier. The seller’s daughter, who works in television, was living in the loft, which featured 10-foot ceilings, exposed brick walls, open views of the Hudson River, a wood-burning fireplace and some high-profile neighbors (Grace Jones and supermodel Heidi Klum both live in the building). The buyer, a restaurateur with a thriving eatery in the West Village, fell for the space immediately when he viewed the apartment with his wife. “There’s such an emotional impact when you look out the window and see the river,” Mr. Steinberg said. Michael Gibson, of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy, represented the buyers.

13 West 13th Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $235,000. Selling: $230,000.

Maintenance: $482; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on market: two months.

With brokers talking about a flush real-estate market and a return of the late-1990’s bidding wars that propelled apartment prices to record highs, many Manhattan homeowners are buying the hype and cashing out-literally. For this well-appointed wisp of an apartment, an economist from New Jersey-deciding that he didn’t need a pied-à-terre after all-got cash on the barrelhead from the parents of a young couple in their 30’s, who were buying the place on the couple’s behalf. “The market is really strong, and the seller decided it was time to sell,” said Douglas Elliman broker Marco Pirozzolo, who had the exclusive along with his Elliman colleague, Cathy Lempert. The compact, 400-square-foot renovated studio featured elements normally reserved for larger, more modish apartments, such as soundproof flooring, a new open kitchen with Sub-Zero refrigerator and a custom maple entertainment center with floor-to-ceiling shelving. “The location was a big plus as well,” Mr. Pirozzolo said. “It’s right in the heart of the Village.”


7 Essex Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo.

Asking: $900,000. Selling: $845,000.

Time on market: eight weeks.

Essex House With the glossy obelisk known as Surface: The Hotel rising above Rivington Street, and Keith McNally’s latest celebrity-addled restaurant, Schiller’s Liquor Bar, attracting hip noshers one block east, it’s no wonder that chic boutiques and fashionable little boîtes open up daily on the once-bedraggled stretch. But more farsighted, perhaps, were the real-estate mavens who began constructing luxury lofts ages ago to create patrons for all this conspicuous consumption. Patrons like Emily Thall, a corporate lawyer with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in her late 20’s. Recently, Ms. Thall relocated back to New York from London and fell hard for a 1,584-square-foot loft in this recently completed development on Essex Street. “Before I bought, I spent some time walking around all of the nearby streets-every week there seemed to be a new bar or restaurant opening up,” Ms. Thall said. “Just after I moved in, Les Enfants Terribles opened up on my block.” Hunie Kwon, a broker with J.C. DeNiro and Associates who represented Ms. Thall, said that his client wanted a lot of space-inside and outside the apartment. “With all the new restaurants and shops in the neighborhood, it’s a perfect place to explore,” he said. Daniel Doern of the Vesta Development Group was the sponsor broker on the apartment. A far cry from the surrounding gritty 19th-century buildings, Ms. Thall’s loft features such modish amenities as a video intercom, a built-in washer-dryer, open views of Seward Park and access to the building’s common roof deck, which comes complete with gas grill. But some of the oldest neighborhood attractions played a part in her decision as well. “Sealing the deal for me was the chocolate shop around the corner on Hester Street. My best friend used to bring me gifts from there,” Ms. Thall said. “Finally, I can be a regular for their hand-dipped chocolates!” And if she’s lucky, she may have a celebrity neighbor in the near future: The unoccupied penthouse is currently listing for $2.2 million after electro-rocker Moby had come close to signing a contract on the apartment, which would have made for a convenient commute-Teany, his vegan-minimalist tea shop, is on nearby Rivington Street.

Crash Kors