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Minetta Lane Townhouse Owner Speaks: 'Never a Sex Club'

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Yesterday a Greenwich Village neighbor of late designer Robert Isabel's townhouse at 16 Minetta Lane had some harsh words for the new owner of the historic home. Commenting on a mysterious (and ultimately shelved) liquor license application, our tipster said that fellow residents feared some sort of private sex club opening up in the building. Well, we've heard from the owner of 16 Minetta Lane who as you might imagine is not happy about being portrayed as the type of guy who might own a sex club.

He told us that he flirted with the idea of opening a high-end restaurant in the townhouse, but when he saw the anger at the community board level, he pulled the application. "I have the money, I could have fought for the liquor license, but after seeing how nasty people can be, I just didn't want to put myself through it," he said.

The owner further told us that he wasn't even aware that the house had that many residential neighbors on the quiet block, so he was surprised by the backlash. He thinks there may be a whisper campaign against him in the neighborhood, hence the sex club rumors. "They really don't want anything to do with liquor there," he told us. Though he's not sure whether he'll revisit the restaurant idea, he said his initial idea was to do a high-end French restaurant named Isabel, after the house's previous owner. "I didn't even really know about the guy when I bought his house, but now I know how big a name he was," he said.

Of course, if the house sells, then it will be up to the new owner to decide what to do with the place. The current owner purchased it for $2.1 million and immediately put it back on the market, with the price now at $4 million. He said the house was in pretty rough shape when he bought it from the Isabel estate (the listing has some old pics). "You guys said it was becoming a 'sex dungeon.' It actually already looked a little like a dungeon," he remarked.

He's been renovating, removing the plant-loving Isabel's sprinklers and painting the interior white. He said celebrities, supermodels and countless other potential buyers have toured the place, and he's received offers above $3 million, but he's holding out for something closer to the $4 million price tag. In short, there are many possibilities for 16 Minetta Lane, but don't expect a sex dungeon to be one of them. Drat!
· Villager Doesn't Want Townhouse Turned Into Private Sex Club [Curbed]
· Listing: 16 Minetta Lane [Elliman]