The B+B offices are right here in Cooper Square, so we spend a lot of time walking the cobblestones of NoHo, wondering if we’ll ever get to live in one of those $23,000-a-month penthouses (this while we’re splurging on a Papaya Dog for lunch). So when a representative of CORE invited us to tour some luxe properties in our own backyard, we couldn’t resist. Come along as the brokerage firm’s director of communications, Erin Ryder, shows off some pads that are a smidge pricier than the $150-a-month A.I.R. lofts of yore.
43 Great Jones (above)
3-bedroom (or two-bedroom, one home office)
Our first stop is in a six-story coop on Great Jones. There’s storage space in the basement, and a rooftop garden. One of the apartment owners is a beekeeper.
As we burst into the sun-filled apartment, sales agent Martin Eiden assured us, “The fire engines don’t turn their sirens on until the end of the street.” The station across the street might be one of the reasons the home has been on the market three months (the original asking price was $3,700,000).
Eiden has shown the apartment to fifty groups. He tells us the space “attracts the self-made individual, who likes their privacy. They did the whole limelight thing and now when they come home they don’t need that flashy stuff.”
The hallway wall is noticeably bare. “We removed the art,” says Eiden. “Otherwise showings just turn into an art conversation.” I ask what was there. “Oh, nothing offensive! But it was big art,” he says.
This is the third time Eiden has sold the space: it sold for $1 million in 2004 and then, after $500,000 in renovations, it went for $2.5 million in 2007. The current owners refinished the floors (now solid walnut) and refurbished the three bathrooms. The sizeable floor in the second bedroom’s en suite bathroom is composed of two gigantic marble tiles: waxen grave-sized chunks of stone. Meanwhile, the master bedroom’s en suite has a shower/steam-room area, in additional to a two-person-sized tub. “They did go a little over the top on the bathrooms,” Eiden concedes.
Despite the amenities, Eiden assures us that this is a groovy, eclectic little spot. “It was one of the original artist loft buildings,” he tells us. Basquiat had his studio on Great Jones, and died somewhere on the pavement outside. “So that’s a fun fact,” says Eiden. “It’s always been a very colorful street.”
The building itself gets into the community spirit—it’s “the classic anti-doorman building.” A self-managed co-op, everyone has a little task to do. The unit in question is in charge of keeping the lobby in order. “But that’s super easy,” Eiden reassures us. “When your cleaning lady cleans your house, she can just mop the floors down there.”
30 Bond Street
Our second potential home is in a six-residence building that’s tucked next to Herzog and de Meuron’s green monster at 40 Bond. The storefront is a high-end showroom for jewelry. As we arrive, sales agent Tony Sargent is escorting his latest showing (a be-suited gentleman and a beautiful blonde woman in black lycra sweatpants) out of the building.
Sargent is a strapping fellow who worked in the building that housed Tower Records (at Lafayette and Fourth St) in the early ’90s. “People used to flock there,” he recalls. “But no one came down here.” Now, “when you look around you, you see new and old,” says Sargent. “I honestly think this is the cultural heartbeat of New York.”
The apartment is remarkably spacious and light, outfitted in “Scandinavian” minimalist style, and with a private, sizeable outdoor patio. Sargent has already seen 25 groups in the five days it’s been on the market. “There’s a pent-up demand for penthouse lofts with truly special outdoor space,” he confides. Mostly, the groups have been composed of “a lot of successful creatives” and Europeans. We ask about interest from the Russians. Erin dismisses the thought: “That’s kind of on its way out.”
There’s currently a photographer on the sixth floor, says Sargent. “I think there’s quite a few artists in here,” he adds vaguely. (One would hope so given the still ostensibly functional A.I.R. zoning laws.) The penthouse’s current tenant is an English attorney plus family.
As we pass the cookbooks in the roomy kitchen, Erin stops. “This book” she says, pointing at Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, “is in every single CORE listing I’ve ever been in. I see it every time.” Sales of pomegranate molasses and black garlic must be skyrocketing.
We go on a quick jaunt to the rooftop, accessed via an exposed spiral staircase. The patio comes complete with water tank, and a view of the Empire State building. “Creatives love light and outdoors,” Sargent explains. “The actors I’ve seen just fall in love with that—” he gestures at the skylight and by extension the rooftop. “They’re probably from LA,” adds Erin, to explain the actor’s Vitamin D and fresh air requirements.
37 Great Jones
$23,000 a month
Our final stop is back on Great Jones: a rental penthouse going for $23,000 a month. The building has only just become available for residential use after a two-year renovation that followed decades of vacancy. A mystery “notable downtown fashion retailer” has just snapped up the street-level storefront (judging from the sudden appearance of Filson and Philip Lim on this block, the clothes won’t come cheap). The apartments, meanwhile, have been on the market since the “summer.”
Todd Lewin, the sales agent, tells us the building is one of the few individually landmarked properties in the NoHo Historic District. The old cast-iron elevator doors hang sadly on the lobby walls, like beheaded corpses on the tower gates. The “interesting heritage detail” in one of the penthouse’s bedrooms turns out to be asymmetrical windows. The apartment is “rare for its kind,” says Lewin, citing its volume, attention to detail and address. It is also remarkable for its counterintuitive lack of character.
Lewin describes the interested parties as “eclectic, downtown.”
Erin expands: “It could be anyone, from a guy in Birkenstocks to a guy with a chauffeur. And the Birkenstocks guy probably has just as much money.”
Upstairs, adjacent to the master bedroom (which comes with balcony), is the outdoor patio. We loiter outside, looking across at the backside of 40 Bond. “That’s not a great place to live,” says Lewin. “No one’s ever there.” So what about the person visible in an apartment further up? “Oh no,” says Erin. “That’s just the cleaning lady.”
Come to think of it, Cleaning Lady in Residence (C.L.I.R) could be a fun re-zoning concept.
Correction: The original version of this post was revised because it misidentified Tony Sargent as a onetime employee of Tower Records. He actually worked above the record store, at another company.