A long-time home of late Broadway hitmaker David Merrick—whose productions include “Hello Dolly,” “Gypsy,” “Oliver!” and the first film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” —is back on the market with a gut renovation for $19.5 million.
Merrick, a famously sardonic titan of New York show business, owned the Upper East Side townhouse from the mid-1980s until his death in 2000 at the age of 88, according to property records. He left the historic home on East 71st Street and most of his estate to his longtime partner and sixth wife, Natalie Lloyd, who he married five months before his death and who sold the multi-million-dollar home a year later.
Often antagonistic, the producer was remembered in a New York Times obituary as having gone “out of his way to resemble a villain out of a Victorian melodrama.”
But whatever darkness the Broadway bigwig left lingering in the six-story, five-bedroom townhouse has been cleared out, thanks to a renovation that gutted the home down to the studs, said listing agent Cathy Taub, a broker with Sotheby’s International Realty.
Rakison, a U.K.-based development and investment company, bought the home for $7 million in 2011 and embarked on a multiyear project that required jumping through “massive hoops” due to the home’s city landmark status, Ms. Taub said.
“When you’re trying to work with landmarks and Department of Buildings, it takes more time,” she said. “But they had to and did retain the front facade.”
Ms. Taub described the intrigue of walking up to the classic limestone and brick exterior with its decorative cornice dating back to 1920 and then into a fully modern home.
Rakison’s updates reinforced the home with steel, installed touch panels on every floor to integrate light, heat and sound, and added a new hydraulic elevator that accesses all floors, including the sixth-floor rooftop. They also got permits to build out the back of the house on the ground and first floors to accommodate a 16-foot glass atrium that looks out over the garden and backyard patio.
The developers added an environmentally friendly heating system that warms the floors as well. “You don’t want to wear slippers in this house,” Ms. Taub quipped.
The master bedroom has a south-facing balcony, and the developers added a fully-finished rooftop terrace fit for entertaining. It has new wind barriers around the perimeter, a hot tub, sundeck, wet bar and outdoor rain shower.