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In an East Village Co-op, The Famous Stick Together
April 18, 2005, 12:03 pm

In an East Village Co-op, The Famous Stick Together
William Neuman. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Apr 17, 2005. pg. 11.2

Copyright New York Times Company Apr 17, 2005; REAL ESTATE DESK

IMAGINE the backyard barbecues at the East Village town house co-op where the actress Chloe Sevigny just bought the garden apartment for almost $1.2 million. Above Ms. Sevigny's 1,250-square-foot apartment is a duplex occupied by the sculptor Robert Gober. One floor up is James Iha, the former lead guitarist for the band Smashing Pumpkins. And on the top floor is Parker Posey, another actress known for her independent film credentials.

Ms. Sevigny bought her apartment last month from Sean Altman, a singer and songwriter who was a founder of the group Rockapella, which was featured in the early 1990's on the children's television show ''Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?'' More recently, he has performed with the Loser's Lounge, a group that produces over-the-top tributes to pop icons, and in a music and comedy review called ''What I Like About Jew.'' Mr. Altman bought the apartment in 1990 for $187,000.

''When I moved in there I was the most famous person in the building, and when I left I was the least famous person,'' Mr. Altman said jokingly. ''That's why I left. I couldn't take being the low man on the totem pole.''

Mr. Altman said the apartment in the 25-foot-wide, mid-19th-century building has exposed brick walls and two working fireplaces. The town house is part of a co-op consisting of several adjoining buildings that share a large combined backyard. ''There's all kinds of unusual birds and wildlife,'' Mr. Altman said.

And celebrities.

Through her publicist, Amanda Horton, Ms. Sevigny said that she has a preservationist's inclinations when it comes to architecture and that she was attracted by the apartment's beamed ceilings and wide pine-plank floorboards, which she said date from its construction around 1862. She said it reminded her of the Colonial-era homes she was familiar with from her childhood in Connecticut.

The apartment, she added, evokes thoughts of the writers Henry James and Edith Wharton.

Ms. Sevigny has been filming an HBO series called ''Big Love.'' Her latest film was the Woody Allen movie ''Melinda and Melinda,'' which came out last month.

Mr. Altman, who is married to Inna Dukach, a classical soprano, said he is using the money from the sale of the apartment to buy a $985,000 four-story town house on 153rd Street on Sugar Hill in Harlem. The house will need lots of renovation, and he plans to pay for that out of the apartment proceeds as well.

''We're going to pay with Chloe's money,'' he said. ''We're thinking of naming the house 'Chloe.'''

'Princess' on Prince Street

The film ''Melinda and Melinda'' had moviegoers drooling over the lavish apartments that seemed well beyond the financial reach of the young and artistic Manhattanites who supposedly live in them.

In the movie, Chloe Sevigny plays a ''Park Avenue princess'' slumming as a sometime music teacher married to a struggling actor with a sour demeanor. The couple begins to come unglued after a high-strung house guest shows up for an extended stay. At one point, the husband complains to friends that their apartment cost so much they had to skimp on the furniture (although Woody Allen's set designer seems to have missed that part of the script).

Now we can know what they would have paid.

The apartment used for the film came on the market this month, priced at $3.5 million.

It is in a co-op building at 131 Prince Street, and its sale is being handled by Gabriella Winter and Alex Nicholas, brokers for the Corcoran Group.

The brokers' Web site describes the apartment as a square loft space, 60 feet on a side, with windows on the north and south. People who saw the movie will remember its massive wood columns, 10 1/2-foot exposed beam ceiling and hardwood floors. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms -- and plenty of room for that kooky house guest.

But Ms. Sevigny said she does not have apartment envy. ''I am not a loft person,'' she said through her publicist. ''I prefer an older place with lots of nooks and crannies.''

Buy a Condo, Improve a Park

It's not unusual for developers to spend money to spruce up subway stations or parks near their projects, either in exchange for concessions from public agencies, to smooth relations with the local community or simply to beautify their environs. One might say that there is no altruism in real estate, only added value.

But the developers who are turning the old InterContinental Hotel at 110 Central Park South into luxury condos have found a different way of pitching in while creating a perk for buyers of their high-end apartments.

Anbau Enterprises, the developer, and the Sunshine Group, which is marketing the apartments, have agreed to contribute at least $100,000 to the Central Park Conservancy. Half the money, which is being donated as a percentage of sales and could eventually total close to $200,000, will be used for general park maintenance and half will go into an endowment for the upkeep of the Heckscher Playground, opposite the converted condominium. Heckscher is the park's largest playground, at three acres, and along with its surrounding ball fields and grounds it is undergoing a $7 million renovation.

Condo buyers will also receive one-year memberships to the Central Park Conservancy, which the group hopes will turn them into long-term supporters. The memberships will be at an enhanced level that allows access to special events.Apartments in the building range from $1.5 million for a one-bedroom without a view of the park, to $11 million for a four-bedroom, full-floor penthouse with two terraces overlooking the park. They are expected to go on sale late this month or in early May.

And if buyers don't have time to decorate, the developers are also offering an interior design package providing a full apartment worth of furniture, lamps and rugs for $200,000 to $450,000, depending on the size of the unit.

Credit: William Neuman

Source: The New York Times