LeBron James looks at pads at 25 Columbus Circle, 40 Mercer Street


LeBron James


At 9 p.m. tonight, fans will find out whether basketball legend LeBron James will join the New York Knicks.

In the meantime, one thing is for sure: he’s been scoping out chic pads
in the city. (See slide show above of homes that could be suitable for

The Cleveland Cavaliers star has checked out apartments at 40
Mercer Street in Soho and the Time Warner Center, real estate agents
told The Real Deal, and other buildings he’s likely considering include 15 Central Park West and Superior Ink.

Meanwhile, broker-to-the-stars Dolly Lenz
told the New York Post that she showed James the 23 Perry Street
townhouse where Billy Joel and his ex-wife, Katie Lee, previously

If the superstar free agent signs with the Knicks, he would
also likely look at homes in Westchester, near the team’s practice
facility in Tarrytown, a village in Greenburgh, just as new recruit
Amar’e Stoudemire did this weekend, agents said.

James is slated to announce his choice during a one-hour special on
ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. Frontrunners are said to be the Cavs — the
Akron, Ohio native’s hometown team — the Miami Heat and the Knicks,
though the Chicago Bulls and the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets are also in
the running. 

The possibility of James moving to the New York area has caused a furor among Manhattan real estate agents in recent weeks. Halstead Property released a video
in which Diane Ramirez, the company’s president, pledged to donate her
company’s portion of the commission on James’ new home to the charity
of his choice. And Zar Properties is offering James free use of a 6,000-square-foot loft at 64-68 Wooster Street in Soho while he looks for a more permanent home.

James’ newly built 35,000-square-foot house in Bath Township, Ohio
reportedly has a theater, bowling alley, casino and barber shop. It’s
hard to imagine the star trading that in for an apartment, no matter
how posh. But he’s already been spotted looking at a number of

Sources confirmed that “King James” has looked at an apartment at 40
Mercer, the boutique condo created by hotelier Andre Balazs and
architect Jean Nouvel. James’ spokesperson declined to comment. 

Prudential Douglas Elliman agent Wilbur Gonzalez, who has two listings
at 40 Mercer, declined to comment about whether James had visited the
building. But he did say that the full-service building has some of the
features important to high-profile professional athletes, including a
private underground garage and a residents-only spa with a swimming
pool and fitness center. 

A private garage is important to many celebrities so they are “not
visible coming in and out of the building,” explained broker Adam
Modlin, who is said to have worked with a number of pro athletes,
including Yankee star Alex Rodriguez.

said he could not comment on James specifically, but he noted that a
high-profile player for the Knicks would need easy access to three
things: Madison Square Garden, where the team plays; the Westchester
practice facility; and airports like Westchester County Airport and
Teterboro. That likely means a home located close to the West Side
Highway, which is “a great connecting point,” he said.  

“An ideal place would be 15 Central Park West,” Modlin said, noting
that the super-luxury limestone condominium has an on-site parking
facility, as well as a gym, spa and fitness center. 

The Robert A.M. Stern-designed building has attracted a number of
celebrities, including Rodriguez, and is currently “the address to have
now in New York,” said Corcoran’s Ric Swezey, adding, “it’s as white
glove as a condo can be these days.”

Swezey said that if James were to buy in New York, he would almost
certainly purchase a condo rather than a co-op, since many high-end
co-ops shy away from celebrities. 

“Co-ops don’t want press standing in front of their door,” he said.
“Usually it’s really hard to get into a co-op if you’re a name like

The Time Warner Center at 25 Columbus Circle, which also has a private
parking facility, spa services and a fitness center, would also be a
good choice for someone like James, Modlin said. 

Xiaolan (Sherri) Shang, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, confirmed to The Real Deal that
a representative for James looked at her $14.95 million listing at 25
Columbus Circle. The three-bedroom, 3.5-bath unit has 80 linear feet of
floor to ceiling windows, with views of Central Park, the Hudson River
and the Manhattan skyline.  

The Time Warner Center is popular with celebrities because it’s “very
private and secure,” Shang said, and offers them easy access to
shopping and dining without having to leave the building.

Another likely choice for James is Superior Ink, also a Robert A.M.
Stern-designed project, agents said. Located on 12th Street on the West
Village waterfront, Superior Ink has attracted celebrities like Hilary
Swank and designer Marc Jacobs.

a Class A building for a Class A player,” said broker Gea Elika of
Elika Associates, who lives at Superior Ink and has sold several units

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While there are only a few units left in the building itself, Superior
Ink also includes townhouses on nearby Bethune Street with access to
the building’s amenities, including its fitness center and private
parking garage on the second floor. Townhouses residents can access the
garage through an underground tunnel equipped with security

“It’s like Batman,” Elika said. 

He Added That 12th Street is “quiet and residential” and would be an
ideal choice for James if he’s looking to escape tourists and

Rumors have circulated that James has been looking at West Village
townhouses, since Lenz told the Post that he “seems to be set on that

But when contacted by The Real Deal, Lenz said she “can’t talk about LeBron James.” 

Other brokers said that if James settles in Manhattan, it seems likely
that he would choose a full-service building over a townhouse. 

“I personally don’t think a townhouse would work for someone like him,”
Gonzalez said. “They travel so much; there are so many away games. It
makes sense to have a full-time doorman.” 

Pro athletes tend to be attracted to “full-service buildings with a lot
of amenities,” said Chris Meyers, COO of Westchester-based Houlihan
Lawrence Real Estate. “They can leave their laundry in the front
hallway and it’s going to be waiting for them when they get back. In a
townhouse, you’ve got to maintain your own building.” 

Still, since the Knicks practice in Westchester, many players have
taken up residence there, Meyers said. He said that Stoudemire “did
take a tour of some of the surrounding communities in Westchester” last
weekend, though he did not comment on whether Stoudemire is working
with Houlihan Lawrence. Stoudemire was not immediately reachable for
Meyers said Stoudemire was not looking at specific listings, but rather “thinking about where he might want to live.” 

Purchase, NY has been popular with professional athletes since the
1990s, when Stephon Marbury, Latrell Sprewell and Isiah Thomas
purchased homes there. (Thomas remains, though the others have left.)
Armonk is also popular with athletes. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni lives
in Rye, Meyers said. 

Professional athletes tend to prefer new construction over historic homes, he said. 

“Because they’re big people in physical stature, they tend to look at
newer homes,” he said. “Older, historic homes tend to be smaller [in
terms of] doorframes and ceilings.” 

Moreover, he said, professional athletes often look for amenities that
are more likely to be found in new construction, such as in-home gyms
and media centers for entertaining. 

Meyers said as far as he knows James has not yet looked at homes in
Westchester. But if he does, a good choice might be an 86-acre-estate
at 48 Haights Cross Road in Chappaqua, which is on the market with
Houlihan for $27.5 million. The 20,000-square-foot home has a pool,
tennis courts, media room, and fittingly, an indoor basketball

Alpine, NJ — which is one of the most expensive towns in the country
— might be another option, though it’s further from the Knicks’
practice facility. 

Peggy Mann, an associate at Prominent Properties Sotheby’s
International Realty in Alpine, said the town is only 21 miles from New
York City and homes in the area offer privacy, high ceilings and a vast
array of amenities. 

Alpine is home to former Knicks great Patrick Ewing,
rapper/entrepreneur Sean Combs, Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia, and
long-time Knicks fan and comedian Chris Rock.  

“Alpine offers celebrities all the privacy that they would want,” Mann
said. “They could be walking down the street and no one would bother

While the suburbs offer privacy, Stoudemire and James are likely to be
attracted to the nightlife and excitement of Manhattan. “They’re both
single and younger, so I’d probably give the nod towards the city,”
Meyers said. “The athletes who live out here tend to have

Agents noted that just because James has been looking at homes in the
New York area does not mean he is joining the Knicks. After all, James
— a close friend of rapper Jay-Z — could be looking for a New York
pied-a-terre, or simply trying to get the priciest contract

By tonight, “we’ll know if it’s all a moot point,” Meyers said. 

Additional reporting by Justin Mermelstein