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Guy Wildenstein Trades Up

Jeez, Louise. After ditching the Plaza, the art mogul find another wondrous gem on the East Side.

By Chris Rovzar

Inside an Apartment in the New Plaza

New York’s real-estate writer S. Jhoanna Robledo recently toured an apartment in the newly renovated Plaza, and our cameras went along. Once the crown jewel of New York hotels, the Plaza went condo in 2005, and its permanent residents enjoy all the amenities of hotel living. This two-bedroom rental is only $16,500 a month, and comes with a mosaic-tile bathroom and maid service. And if you want a drink, the Oak Bar is right downstairs. Video: Inside the Plaza

Video: A Look Inside 15 Central Park West

15 Central Park West Fifteen
We've been intrigued by the spectacularly luxurious residential building at 15 Central Park West for quite some time now. And we have some questions. For example, sure, Daniel Loeb may have plunked down $45 million on one of the penthouses, and Sandy Weill may have dropped $42 million on the other one, but what about the rest of the building? You know, the apartments that aren't duplexes with terraces and the ones that aren't occupied by people like Sting and Trudie Styler. Who lives there and shares the pool and the "motor court" with Sandy and Danny? Thankfully, New York's genius real-estate reporter, S. Jhoanna Robledo, wrangled her way into the building (they'd never let us in; Chris is too fat, and Jessica wears white after Labor Day) and brought back video from the inside. Click above to see a fabulous three-bedroom, including herringbone hardwood floors and a bathroom so amazing that, if you were in a hotel, you would totally use the wall phone to call your mom and tell her how fancy it was, while sitting on the toilet. Inside 15 Central Park West

Stribling's Luxury Report Says That Triplex on Fifth Isn't Getting Any Cheaper

The Plaza
Stribling's Luxury Market report has bad news for buyers, at least if you’re the type who needs three bedrooms and a library on Park. Prices aren’t expected to drop anytime soon, says Kirk Henckels, director of Stribling Private Brokerage (the luxe firm’s ultraluxe arm), who spoke to us today. Already, there have been four closed sales above $20 million this year — writer Georgia Shreve’s duplex penthouse at 1060 Fifth Avenue that sold for $46 million is one of the more memorable deals, given that it still needs work. And nine more blockbusters are in the offing. (Last year, we had eleven total!) “We’re already ahead of pace,” Henckels says. The under–$20 million market’s also percolating. “There’s just so little [available]. One came on yesterday, and it’s priced significantly higher than one across the street that went for $17 million last year — and it won’t last long.” Why all the action, despite continued ambivalence about the economy’s future? Though some buyers, spooked by talks of a slowdown, may have left the game, plenty are still on the lookout for their next mansion, Henckels says.

Margaret Truman Gets $2 Million Per Floor

Margaret Truman

When she announced she was putting her Park Avenue apartment on the market last spring, writer and First Daughter Margaret Truman had banked on the triplex maisonette's "brush with presidential history" helping to sell it, according to the New York Times. Apparently, it worked eventually. Truman, who authored a spate of murder mysteries set in the nation's capital and was married to late Times editor Clifton Daniel, had offers by the beginning of fall. In October it had gone into contract, a deal that, according to a source, finally closed today. It took some price cuts, though: The triplex maisonette, which has four bedrooms, four baths, and a working fireplace, had an initial asking of $8 million but was slashed six weeks later to $7.5 million. The final price: $6 million. —S. Jhoanna Robledo

Nightlife Gurus Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum Like Working Underground

Chelsea Modern
Nightlife moguls Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm must like being close to the ground. Their restaurant STK is at street level, and their megapopular club Tenjune is just below it. The pair's new offices follow the pattern. Birnbaum and Remm recently bought a large space at the 47-unit Chelsea Modern on West 18th Street for $2.225 million. But instead of going for the penthouse like the boldface names that frequent their establishments usually do, they opted for the ground-floor duplex, which extends below street level. "From the perspective of location, I want to be in the neighborhood. Equinox is opening across street, the High Line is almost done…" Birnbaum told us. "From a resale position, it's great. It's a good long-term investment." It won’t be dreary, either: The 2,277-square-foot space will have a glass sidewalk out front that will let light (and the sound of gentle footsteps) stream through to his basement. As Birnbaum assured us: "You don't feel like you're sitting in the dungeon." —S. Jhoanna Robledo Listing: The Chelsea Modern [Corcoran] Related: Meatpacking Moguls Remm, Birnbaum and Rabin on How to Be Cool [Grub Street]

This Just In: Manhattan Still Expensive!

The Plaza
Some of the city's biggest brokerage firms released their fourth-quarter reports on the Manhattan real-estate market this week. And the news? Holdouts hoping for a slump won't get their reward quite yet. The breakdown: • While other cities sink into subprime hell, the borough remains stubbornly bullish, buoyed in part by tight inventory, especially in co-ops. If you're still looking to buy, an apartment in the borough will set you back an average of nearly $1.44 million, 18 percent more than what you would've paid the year before. (That's according to valuations guru Jonathan Miller's Prudential Douglas Elliman survey; Halstead and Brown Harris Stevens' numbers come in slightly under at $1.43 million.) • Prices were up pretty much across the board, with large spaces being the most in demand. (No surprise, they saw the most gains; according to Miller, three-bedrooms spiked an impressive 39.8 percent in value over the same period the previous year.)

Celebrities Hot for One Brooklyn Bridge Park

Swank
What is it with One Brooklyn Bridge Park? A tipster says three celebrities are checking out the luxe 449-unit condo project, whose former incarnation was headquarters for the decidedly un-luxe Watchtower, a magazine published by the Jehovah's Witness. Model Bridget Hall was recently spotted at the building, presumably for a tour, as has another catwalker, now turned reality-TV-and-talk-show host Tyra Banks. Hilary Swank is said to be interested in the property, too, and is apparently expected for a look-see soon. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the building's transformation has piqued such interest that its waiting list of potential buyers was 3000 strong earlier this year. Real-estate doyenne Elizabeth Stribling bought two units there, and now her posh brokerage firm, Stribling & Associates, helps market the project. —S. Jhoanna Robledo

Manhattan Rents Rolling Downhill

Rental
Could Manhattan rents have finally peaked? Anyone who owns property in the city will argue that prices here defy all laws of nature, but a new report by the Real Estate Group New York shows that rents may be starting to finally slip. "We're trending down since the peak, which is what I would call maybe July," says REGNY COO Daniel Baum. Since the beginning of the year, prices are still up slightly. Non-doorman studios went from $1,969 in January to $2,095 this month, a rise of 6.3 percent. But prices in many areas are down from the middle of the year. Doorman two-bedrooms climbed from $5,346 in January to a peak of $5,753 in July, then fell back to $5,520 in December. Some variation is to be expected as seasons change, but Baum insists we're seeing a trend. "This is the first time we're starting to see a slowdown on the rent side in the last three years or so," Baum says. The hardest hit area may be the financial district, which has seen some layoffs (and perhaps, therefore, a small exodus). Since last month the average asking price for a doorman studio in the financial district has come down $503, to $2,559. The peak was in September at $3,103. It should be noted that Manhattan sales continue to be strong and unperturbed by the subprime and general housing meltdown. There are two schools of thought on whether the eventual decline of sale prices will mean lower rents. Some think foreclosure refuges and hesitant buyers will push up the number of renters — and thus the rents everyone pays. Others think the general economic downturn will lead to a further lowering of rents. —Carol Vinzant

Live Like a Supermodel, But With a Better Apartment

Model
Comely wannabes looking to launch their modeling careers usually bunk up in tiny apartments to make ends meet until they land that elusive cover. But not apparently the contestants for Make Me a Supermodel, Bravo's upcoming reality series. A tipster says scouts for the show, slated to hit the air early next year and hosted by the easy-on-the-eyes Tyson Beckford, recently checked out a luxe (read camera-ready) 4500-square-foot penthouse on West 20th Street with five bedrooms, four and a half baths, and a roof deck. It's currently on the market for $8.2 million, though apparently also available for rent for somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 a month. Listing broker Darren Sukenik of Prudential Douglas Elliman declined to comment. Needless to say, it's not your average apartment, for models or otherwise. —S. Jhoanna Robledo 129 West 20th Street [Prudential Douglas Elliman]