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Single women may still insist that men fear commitment. But New York's bachelors seem to be thinking about settling down, if their buying habits of late are any guide. A generation of stubbornly unattached men at the brink of middle age -- the sort of guys who very recently would've been asking brokers about lofts with room for a pinball machine -- are demanding places with space for an eventual wife and kids.

The bad economy may be a factor; the desire to buy while interest rates are low may be another. Or it could be a post-9/11 urge to snuggle. But whatever the reason, says architect Billie Tsien, "I've never seen this before." She's talking about clients like a thirtysomething executive for whom her firm, Tod Williams Billie Tsien & Associates (which recently built the new American Folk Art Museum), is designing a 3,700-square-foot downtown spread. Plans call for a study and a lounge where cocktails could give way to a crib. "I don't know whether it's a desire to nest," says Tsien, "or to just make their lives happen right now."

"If you're over 30, you've got to think you could be getting married one of these days," says GQ editor Adam Rapoport, a "thoroughly single" 32-year-old looking for an easily domesticated pad. "And if she's your age, chances are she's also going to want to have a baby pretty soon."Or perhaps several. Last year, Rogers Marvel Architects (now redesigning the Studio Museum in Harlem) was hired by a 31-year-old Wall Streeter to do up his 5,800-square-foot Chelsea loft. Still single, the client is planning way ahead, with "a sitting area enclosed by a curtain, and that's future bedroom No. 1," says architect Chad Smith, who's working under partner Jonathan Marvel. "He has a big antique billiard table, also enclosed by a curtain. That's bedroom No. 2. And a media area with a six-foot-wide space for a plasma TV -- bedroom No. 3."

"I can relate to that," says 42-year-old Michael Spodek, a Halstead broker and a bachelor himself. "I often think one day it will be like, 'Presto, there's the family.' It's better to buy larger so you're more flexible." But it's not so easy for everyone. "I'm still amazed how much $500,000 won't buy," says Rapoport. "I foresee it taking longer to find an apartment than to get married."


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