For some wealthy New Yorkers, having a penthouse or combining two apartments to make a family home isn’t enough. They need to own individual apartments within the same building to house their ex-wives, aging parents or home office.
“I can control who lives above me, I can control who lives below me and we can control the noise around us,” said Bill Diodato, a 49-year-old photographer who owns three separate apartments in a 210-unit, 20-story Midtown co-op building.
He and his partner, Elizabeth Nuckels, 38, a social worker, share a 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom with bamboo flooring, red kitchen cabinets and sleek midcentury modern furnishings on the 18th floor. Diodato’s ex-wife, Linda Hilfiker, 51, a photo producer, and their two teenage children enjoy a 2,000-square-foot three-bedroom with a warm, muted color palette and a 500-square-foot terrace on the 17th floor. On the 16th floor, Diodato has a 400-square-foot studio that he uses as a production office for his commercial photography business.
“It’s made for a beautiful and quiet environment for me and my family,” he said. “The reason to have everything so enmeshed, so centralized, is so I can be the best professional I can be, while not losing time with my family.” He added, “It’s being the best father and family member I can be.”
While such arrangements aren’t exactly common, real-estate insiders say they’re becoming more popular, and make sense for those who can afford them.
I can control who lives above me, I can control who lives below me and we can control the noise around us.
“If you live in a building, you already know how it’s run and how it’s managed,” said property appraisal expert Jonathan Miller.
Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis seems to be a fan of that theory. This summer, the 21-year-old, 7-foot-3-inch hoops star signed a lease for an $8,000-per-month corner penthouse at Sky, the new, 1,175-unit luxury rental tower at 605 W. 42nd St. The Latvia native also grabbed two additional high-floor dwellings inside the 71-story building for his two older brothers, Janis and Martins.
“They are close and like to be near each other,” a spy familiar with the deal told The Post’s Jennifer Gould.
“The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon is also an apartment collector. In 2002, he bought a seventh-floor unit at 34 Gramercy Park East, a 35-unit co-op. In 2004, he purchased another unit on the same floor for $1.5 million and combined it with his first purchase. Six years later, he spent an additional $1.35 million for an eighth-floor home. In 2014, he snagged both a four-bedroom for $1.35 million and a studio for $725,000, both on the top floor of the co-op. Department of Buildings records from December 2014 indicate that Fallon planned to combine four of his five units into a triplex, but the studio was not to be part of it. Reportedly, Fallon plans to use that as an office, but his reps did not respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Not all apartment collectors have setups as elaborate as Diodato and Fallon’s, but they still say having multiple units in the same building is a boon. Richard Rosenthal, 60 and an agent at Halstead Property, makes good use of his two pads in the same Upper East Side co-op.
For 18 years, he’s resided in a ninth-floor, three-bedroom home with a big kitchen and a dining room, where he and his wife raised their son. In 2014, he bought a one-bedroom on the second floor with a 300-square-foot terrace for $1.2 million in order to have his aging mother close by.
“She could see her grandson every day just by taking the elevator,” Rosenthal said.
His mother has since passed away, but he intends to keep the unit as an additional living area.
“It gives me the outdoor space I’ve always wanted,” he said. It’s “our summer home!”
For Diodato, creating his unique setup has been an ongoing labor of love. In the mid-’90s, while he and Hilfiker were dating, he bought a one-bedroom apartment on the 17th floor. The two married in 1998, and, over the years, had two kids and gradually nabbed three neighboring studios to combine with Diodato’s first purchase, creating a three-bedroom family home. Total cost: $1.2 million.
While the 17th-floor combinations were underway, Diodato bought a studio and a one-bedroom on the 16th floor, for $250,000 and $540,000, respectively. He intended to combine them to create a place for the family to hang out, but then changed his mind. So he sold the one-bedroom for $650,000 and, in 2009, purchased an already-combined two-bedroom on the 18th floor for $875,000. He and Hilfiker filed for divorce in 2011, and Diodato shacked up in the 18th-floor apartment, where he now lives.
The entire process cost over $2.3 million, and made for a 3,500-square-foot empire. It’d be larger if Diodato had his way.
“I wish I could have bought 10 of them!” he said, laughing. “But I didn’t have the money.”
Still, Diodato’s got his eye out for other apartments in the building. He’d love to have units for his kids to live in after they graduate from college. “[It would] give them one more opportunity in life,” he said.
While living above your ex-wife with your current girlfriend might strike some as too close for comfort, Diodato said the “situation works very well” and gives his children, William, 17, and Adrianna, 15, “a sense of family all the time.”
The split from Hilfiker was amicable, and she and her ex-husband’s partner, who is like a stepmother to the children, get along well. The kids live primarily with their mom, but Diodato still sees them most days, and they occasionally spend the night at his place. Every evening, William and Adrianna have dinner with at least one of their three parental figures.
As Diodato put it, “I’m a family man.”
Sunday, October 30, 2016