Shia LaBeouf doesn't really live at 31 West 21 Street

soon to be famous Manhattan loft?
Fun piece for Manhattan loft lovers in today’s NY Times: Where a Greedy Wall Street Villain Would Feel Right at Home, in which Christine Haughney visits a pretty darn spectacular loft that is featured in the for-Fall-release “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”. I watched this trailer to see The Loft (if it was there, I missed it) but noticed that Michael Douglas has a lot of fun, chews a lot of (non-loft) scenery. I may be the only person older than 40 who has never seen the original; don’t think I will see the sequel.

No question that this penthouse loft at 31 West 21 Street is fit for a Master of the Universe: 6,000+ sq ft duplex, with a huge roof terrace and Empire State views. it had been offered for sale for three years not too long ago, and there are enough hints in the article (and an agent identified) that there may be active soft marketing going on now. In years past, it was offered for sale at $12.5mm (2006), $16.5mm (2007), and $1.37mm (2008). (The listing dates in the inter-firm data-base are very different from those on StreetEasy.) Haughney says the owner "is now considering asking $12 million to $14 million".

Maybe I will revisit this loft when (if??) it is offered for sale, and sells. As Haughney notes, this owner bought the loft in 2003; this was part of the original offering of the 2002 condo conversion. At least some units were sold in a Viking version of a white box; at $1.4mm in 2003, this loft was probably in that buy-and-build condition.

connection to dirt + farm life
This building — like so many true Manhattan loft buildings — had a long life before being re-purposed for residential living. I found one particular former usage that intrigued me (the Google is my friend!), as the search for "31 West 21 Street" included a result "Handy Farm Devices and How to Build Them", which actually related to this Manhattan building. It seems that one of the commercial tenants here had been Lyons & Burford, Publishers, who specialized in books about country living and the outdoors, one being a reprint of that (19th century?) classic, "Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them / A Classic of American Ingenuity".

Web serendipity being what it is, the link to this book is the 6th search result on page 1 of my address-based Google search … immediately following the link that listed a Manhattan Loft Guy post from December 2007, Back In The Day when I did open house lists for Manhattan loft for sales, one of which was in this building. Small (Google) world, no? (Scroll down for the post.)

Further searching led me to the opening paragraphs of a March 1995 Reuters article about the then-62 year-old head of the publishing firm, with "one foot on West 21st Street and one in a Montana trout stream". I wonder how long they had been there, and at what point they left (immediately before the conversion?). Another title from the Lyons catalogue (Lily Pond: 4 Years with a Family of Beavers) shows they were still at this address in 1998.

connection to grit + city life
Another Google link hinted at a different business operating out of this loft building back in the 1980s. You need not dig through a 74 page law review article, but trust me that fn 50 on page 19 includes a citation to a New York Civil Court decision about an S&M club that (I suspect) the landlord was trying to evict in 1984: "31 West 21 Street Assoc., v. Evening of the Unusual, 480 N.Y.S.2d 816, 829 (N.Y. Civ. Ct. 1984) (holding that heterosexual S/M establishment was not private because “anyone who appears at the front door . . . and pays the entrance fee is freely admitted to the Club.”)".

I can’t help but wonder what floor "Evening of the Unusual" was on at 31 West 21 Street in 1984, and if the current owner would want to know what had gone on there. Maybe Charlie Sheen stopped by in the original Wall Street??

This started innocently (I swear), with a NY Times piece (and pix) of a spectacular loft. That led to beavers and farm implements, then to swinger’s clubs in the dawn of the age of AIDS, because this building, like many true Manhattan loft buildings, has a long history. How’s that for a Manhattan loft diversion?

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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  1. […] Deal did a loft-peeking piece a few days ago that gives me an excuse to reprise my April 20, 2010, Shia LaBeouf doesn’t really live at 31 West 21 Street, about that same loft when Shia LaBeouf only appeared to live in that glorious Flatiron penthouse […]

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