Wring in the New

At the Metropolitan on East 90th Street, buyers get their own laundry rooms.Photo: Noah Sheldon

Every year, there’s a luxe-apartment accessory of the moment. We’ve seen aromatherapy in lobbies, wine cellars, and pet spas, and right now, it’s the apartment with a fabulous … laundry center? Builders are not only including washer-dryers in new and renovated apartments; they’re devoting whole rooms to spin-cycling and tumble-drying. After all, in a 2004 National Association of Home Builders survey, a laundry room was top-rated among 90 amenities as the most desirable in a new house—and why would any privileged Manhattanite demand less, even if nobody will see it but the maid?

Architect Ralph Gillis of Gillis Previti, who designs multi-million-dollar renovations, says his clients have spent up to $30,000 on laundry facilities. One Park Avenue co-op owner wanted a commercial press to do his own shirts (or, rather, for someone else to), plus a laundry sink. In an uptown house, Gillis installed a dryer with a built-in sweater rack, off the downstairs foyer. To soak up time during the rinse, he added a plasma-screen TV. In East Hampton, Gillis combined laundry and a playroom: Kids get dirty, their clothes get clean. From nearly all clients, Gillis hears one demand: “Everyone expects the washer and the dryer to be silent.”

“People not only want a Viking kitchen, they want a European laundry room,” says Mitchell Weissberg of Krups Kitchen & Bath, who’s seen his luxury laundry sales rise by some 30 percent this year. He’s outfitted the new building at 21 Astor Place with $3,000 Miele stacked washer-and-dryer sets. Asko and Bosch machines, respectively $2,500 and $2,200, are also hot items. (A more prosaic stacker is about $700 at Home Depot.)

Especially in new buildings, these spaces serve as marketing tools, luring in buyers accustomed to having the latest and greatest. At 1 Beacon Court, the new tower next to Bloomingdale’s, the apartments have dedicated laundry rooms, notes developer Louise Sunshine. Ditto at the Metropolitan, at 191 East 90th Street. Buyers at 110 Central Park South not only get their own machines but will also have access to a huge basement room with commercial equipment. “Its design,” says representative Harriet Weintraub, “was inspired by the utility rooms of the old Newport mansions.”

Shower Curtain Not Included
Yes, Dennis Kozlowski, the fallen Tyco chief who’s infamous for his excessive home decorating on the company dime, has sold his co-op at 950 Fifth Avenue. The buyer is James Dinan, founder of York Capital Management, a New York firm with more than $1.6 billion invested. According to insiders, Dinan was recently approved by the building’s board to buy the duplex that was so famously appointed with a $6,000 shower curtain and $15,000 umbrella stand. Dinan also got the price down to $21 million from $24.95 million, perhaps because of the lingering taint of malfeasance. It’s been reported that the building’s other residents, like Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman and Loews Hotels chief Jonathan Tisch, weren’t thrilled when Kozlowski bought the apartment four years ago (from financier Stephen Schwarzman, who in turn paid about $30 million for a triplex penthouse at 740 Park Avenue) with $16.8 million of Tyco’s cash. (Kozlowski, whose last court appearance ended in a mistrial, is waiting for a new one.) Broker S. Jean Meisel of Brown Harris Stevens, who had listed the apartment for a year, declined to comment.

Same Space, Different Place
Putting a Price on Prestige
What, exactly, is the Park Avenue mystique worth? Judging by these two listings, an extra 50 percent. A three-bedroom (pictured, near right) at Trump Park Avenue, the condo conversion of the old Hotel Delmonico at Park and 59th Street, is listed at $4.5 million. A fundamentally similar condo a few blocks over, on 68th Street near Madison (pictured, far right), can be had for a mere $2.995 million. Both have terraces and virtually the same square footage; the Trump place’s monthly charges are higher, to cover hotel amenities like Cipriani room service. So what’s the real difference? The higher price is boosted by one more variable, notes broker Dawn Conciatori: “The Trump factor.”

502 Park Avenue
The Facts: 3-bed, 3-bath, 2,025-square-foot condo.
Asking Price: $4.5 million.
Charges and Taxes: $4,557.
Broker: Dawn Conciatori, Douglas Elliman.

20 East 68th Street
The Facts: 3-bed, 3-bath, 2,100-square-foot condo.
Asking Price: $2.995 million.
Charges and Taxes: $2,803.
Broker: Marcos G. Cohen, Douglas Elliman.

Wring in the New