The sky life isn't for everyone, according to Richard Steinberg, a top broker at Douglas Elliman. "Any building, no matter how prestigious, has a lobby. People can see you come and go, and doormen talk," he says. "The trend now is that all the high-profile people are going back to townhouse living because it's the easiest way to remain anonymous." And because of landmarks restrictions, often the only way to go truly mega is to buy multiple properties and Frankenmansion them together.
These "Massive Single-Family Compounds" are most pronounced in the West Village, where Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick are currently renovating a pair of adjacent townhouses they bought last year at 273 and 275 W. 11th St. for $34.5 million. When joined together, the 13,900 square-foot property will reportedly span 50 feet, with a 2,100-square-foot private garden. Just a few doors down at 138 W. 11th St., telecom mogul and new Cablevision boss Dexter Goei recently dropped $31 million to convert a multiunit, double townhouse into his very own 11,000-square-foot compound. And this summer, one block south, Napster founder Sean Parker closed on the third of a trio of adjacent townhouses he now owns at 36, 38 and 40 W. 10th St. Never to be outdone, in February hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen began building a family fortress at 145 Perry St., formerly known as 703-711 Washington St., which will include a colossal four-story mansion for him and a six-story building for his children. It's about 300 feet from the supersized mansion of Polo scion David Lauren and his wife Lauren Bush, who bought the trio of townhouses from Annie Leibowitz.
Meanwhile uptown, where Madonna kicked off the trend with her 13-bedroom gated compound at 152-156 E. 81st St., artist Jeff Koons is constructing his biggest work yet, a combined 19,325-square-foot personal palace (at 11 and 13 E. 67th St.) with a lap pool in the basement. But the granddaddy of all megamansions in the works belongs to billionaire Roman Abromovich and his art-world wife, Dasha Zhukova, who are combining $78 million worth of townhouses (11, 13 and 15 E. 75th St.) into a single 18,225-square-foot edifice - with a basement pool, a large central atrium and courtyard, two elevators, double-height art room, backyard sauna, and a rooftop kitchen enclosed in a greenhouse.
A version of this story first appeared in the April 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.