Titanium mania

Realty Bites: Precious Metal
Forget stainless – insist on titanium.

What’s a developer to do? You’re building the city’s millionth luxury condo of the year, and you want yours to stand out from the pack. Classic luxe materials used to be the answer – granite countertops, rosewood floors, those bathroom sinks that stick up out of the counter – but everyone has that stuff these days. Hence the advent of titanium chic, which means the whole outside of your house can be as shiny and high-tech as a new silver Nokia, a truly fashion-forward facade.

Frank Gehry’s extravaganzas (Bilbao, Condé Nast’s cafeteria, the proposed Pier 11 development) sparked titanium’s sudden vogue. Besides, the metal is superlight and incredibly strong, won’t oxidize, and reflects heat amazingly, which is why nasa builds space shuttles out of it. But its physical properties aren’t the draw. “It’s feeding the ego,” says developer Edward Baquero, who’s using titanium to sheathe the new penthouses at 30 Crosby Street, part of a development called the Loft SoHo. It costs maybe ten times what stainless steel would, he guesses – but buyers “want to be able to tell their friends ‘this whole thing’s clad in titanium.’ ” In other words, aluminum siding for people who won’t put up aluminum siding. Baquero got the bug after visiting Bilbao; he felt “an aura about it – that’s what attracted me, that’s what attracted others… . It’s like kryptonite or something, like it just landed from space.” And, like kryptonite, it makes Masters of the Universe go weak at the knees.

Keeping Pace With the Glimchers
Gallerist Arne’s son, a former Giacchetto pal, is back from the boonies.

A few years back, marc glimcher abandoned New York and the presidency of PaceWildenstein Gallery, his dad Arne’s bicoastal art empire, for the SUV Valhalla of Santa Fe. He told the Santa Fe New Mexican that he and his wife, a pediatrician, asked themselves, “How did we end up in the fast lane in New York City? This was not our plan.” Now, real-estate sources say, he’s coming back, or at least buying a three-bedroom, 2,300-square-foot co-op at 45 East 85th Street, between Madison and Park. It was listed at $2.85 million, with $2,500 a month maintenance. These days, apparently, that makes it “a middle-class building, like on West End Avenue,” says one broker. Previously, brokers say, Glimcher fils made a pass at a somewhat more opulent, $3.2 million place at 975 Park Avenue, but the board proved obstreperous and he gave up. Was it the company he used to keep? As president of Pace, Glimcher had become pals with then-budding money manager Dana Giacchetto, introducing him to artists like Ross Bleckner and David Salle and agent Jay Moloney, a protégé of one of his dad’s biggest clients, Mike Ovitz. Glimcher didn’t return a call asking why he wanted to return to the fast lane.

Big Deals

Upper West Side
211 Central Park West
Five-bedroom, five-bath, 4,500-square-foot co-op. Asking: $8 million. Selling: $9.5 million. Time on market: one week.

You can bet Kramer won’t pay nearly $10 million to live across the hall from the real-life Jerry Seinfeld, who owns Isaac Stern’s old place at the Beresford. Then again, Jerry’s TV building didn’t offer apartments like this – a some-assembly-required duplex with views of the park and the Museum of Natural History. The seller owned two classic sixes but never got around to combining the pristine one he lived in with its raggedy twin upstairs. So why did he get $1.5 million over asking? “There was no bidding war, exactly,” says the seller’s Elliman broker, Richard Ferrari. “It was just that people who saw it knew that it would go fast.”

Midtown East
309 East 52nd Street
Four-apartment, five-story 5,500-square-foot townhouse. Asking: $2.2 million. Selling: $2 million. Time on market: six years.

“The owner wasn’t in a hurry to sell,” says William B. May’s Eric Babon, who sold this house after it hopped on and off the market with various brokers for half a decade. Classic details have been restored, but it remains four apartments: a two-bedroom duplex and three spacious one-bedrooms above. The buyers, a couple with a small child represented by William B. May’s Midge LaGuardia, will live in one of the upstairs flats; the seller, clearly enamored of a leisurely pace, has moved to his Wisconsin farm full-time.

Titanium mania