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Showdown at the Penthouse Corral: Carnegie Hill vs. SoHo

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A 2,900 square foot three-bedroom penthouse with five terraces on Lafayette Street for $8.75 million or a 4,000 square foot five-bed version sans outdoor space at 1045 Park for $10 million? Decisions, decisions. Gimme Shelter in the Post spotlights both today and its a case of comparing raspberries and dates. Penthouse A belongs to John S. Johnson of the ever-colorful Johnson & Johnson Johnsons, family of real estate roundheels Libet and the late party girl Casey--all descendents of Robert Wood Johnson, the Band-Aid man.

John founded Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York City, a non-profit that promotes new art production technologies and the Pacific Foundation, which supports the arts, environment and social justice and chairs His wife is Susan Short, an artist, documentarian and naturalist. They own The Harmony Hotel, an old hotel in Costa Rica that they've made 70 % ecologically self-sustainable, and according to Jennifer Gould Keil, "a Brooklyn mansion" that they may already live in, since their duplex penthouse next door to Ian Schrager's is empty in the listing photos, begging you to move right in if you can afford the common charges of $3,215 monthly

Penthouse B (maintenance: $ 9,400) is on the 15th floor of a 1923 co-op on the corner of East 86th Street on bustling Carnegie Hill. It has big vistas, just like its challenger downtown and can even be made into a duplex, too, if you want to buy a three-bedroom below that's also on the market, but that'll cost you an additional $4.3 million. And if only you'd moved faster! Developer Joe Moinian first listed the penthouse two years ago for $8.995 million, and dropped the price to $7.9 million last year in the depths of realty dip. Now it's back with a new brokerage, Town Residential. Does he know something we don't (but hope for) about the market? Possibly. Or else he noticed Libet Johnson's $48 million Vanderbilt mansion buy this month and decided to throw caution to the wind.

When he first listed, Moinian was in trouble with his deals teetering all over town. An Iranian immigrant, he'd come to the U.S. at 16, made his bones in the rag trade and then moved into real estate in the 1980s, amassing a 20 million-square-foot property portfolio that included a piece of Chicago's Sears Tower. "Mr. Moinian frequently bought second-tier buildings in the hopes of renovating them into upscale properties commanding premium rents," Crain's said at the time. Compared to some of its Park neighbors, 1045 is second-tier, too, which may explain the five active listings in the building, but that might work for a buyer who wants to buy both floors; a source says the building rules don't bar total gut jobs.

So which do you want? Wishful thinking begins right now!

285 Lafayette Street [Warburg]
1045 Park Avenue PH [Town]
1045 Park Avenue #14B [GFK]
Past Moinian Coverage [Curbed]