Outside and Proud

Apartment terraces are like stardom, massively desired and completely unnecessary.

Especially in an era like this one-the United Nations Human Rights Council assigned an official this week to study New York's affordable housing-it seems unfair that certain big private apartments get their own big outdoor spaces. But the sparkling lure of the New York terrace endures. There's something cosmic and Shakespearean about it, or at least extremely debonair: The Brooklyn-born songwriter Harry Nilsson once said that the balconies off his London apartment, where Mama Cass Elliot and Keith Moon both died, had views of Big Ben and the Playboy Club.

Still, a beautiful listing with beautiful terraces won't sell if the price isn't quite right. The hedge fund manager Paul O'Reilly-Hyland put his East River townhouse on the market for $12,995,000 in 2005, which became $10 million a year later. It was taken off in 2007, yet re-listed last month for $19 million. By comparison, the penthouse at 25 Central Park West (with "wrap terrace with art deco balustrade," its listing coos) is asking $11.5 million.

The philanthropists Donald and Shelley Rubin want a bit more for their $20.2 million house on East 70th Street, although they reportedly bought it for only $5.18 million last decade. But consider that their place has a roof deck with a kitchen, three terraces and a backyard garden with a recycling fountain and gas grill.

So it's a bargain compared to Hal Prince's $33 million apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue-or Joan Rivers' $25 million penthouse on East 62nd Street, where there's only one measly terrace. It's off the library and dining room, which features "18th century French panels."- Max Abelson

mabelson@observer.com

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More from Max Abelson:

5 of New York's Most Lavish Penthouses

Brown Harris Stevens.

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