Avenue - June 2000

140 Franklin Street, New York City

Real estate brokers report that a number of Upper East Side empty nesters are greeting their children's departure for college as a chance to pick up stakes and move to lofts in downtown neighborhoods like SoHo or TriBeCa. Though it may be hard to imagine trading in a park view for a drafty factory space, the definition of a loft has changed dramatically in the past decade, as have the neighborhoods in which lofts are located. Now that Rupert Murdoch calls SoHo home, downtown developers are looking to lure other affluent uptowners south with luxurious, climate-controlled, and, of course, spacious loft apartments with prices that rival real estate prices anywhere in the city.

A case in point is the sprawling $14 million penthouse unit at 140 Franklin Street at the corner of Varick in the heart of TriBeCa. Nobu is just a block away, and the condominium apartment's rear windows face the back of the late JFK, Jr.'s, apartment on North Moore. The Franklin Street penthouse is an 8,002-square-foot duplex occupying the sixth and seventh floors of an elegant former factory building designed in 1887 by Albert Wagner, the same architect who designed the similar but larger Puck Building.

The architect of the conversion to luxury condominiums was Italian-born Aldo Andreoli, who is also a partner in Sanba Inc. the development company that has renovated and sold the twelve other apartments in the building, for prices ranging from $2 million to $4.5 million. A smaller penthouse unit, with about half the space of the available penthouse, was just sold for $6 million, according to James Lansill, vice president and director of development of Stribling Marketing Associates, the exclusive broker of the building.

Buyers at 140 Franklin Street are purchasing not only a sleek residence in a landmark building, but also the vision of Andreoli, who is delivering each apartment completely finished, except a coat of wall paint. The penthouse will come with Brazilian walnut wide-plank flooring; imported appliances by Miele, Gaggenau, and SubZero; and a Swiss-made radiant heat system that ensures consistent temperature despite the thirty mahogany-framed windows and two double-height skylights.

The upper floor of the penthouse is an entirely new structure, which was carefully built so that it cannot be seen over the parapet wall from street level. The 3,245 square foot terrace, which is accessed through a set of French doors on the upper level, offers a very private space, protected from neighboring buildings by an 8 foot wall. The trade-off for the privacy, of course, is the blocked views of the surrounding city. Views can be had, however, from the small lookout area built atop the roof of the seventh floor.

"The challenge," says Andreoli, "was to find something that would allow us to add to the building without upsetting Landmarks [Preservation Commission], and to establish a relationship with the neighbors next door."

The available apartment comes with 3 master bedrooms, each with a large bathroom that features steam units in the shower, a custom-made walnut vanity, and colorful Bisazza glass mosaic tiles on the walls. Two other rooms can serve as bedrooms or studies. The centerpiece of the apartment is the 100 ft. living and dining space, with the kitchen along one wall. A wooden water tower is framed by the room's skylight. ⊕

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