I'm Looking: Matt Damon

It's an open secret among New Yorkers: Matt Damon is house hunting in the Big Apple. The actor has apparently narrowed his search to the Upper West Side near Central Park West, reports theRealDeal, whose sources say Damon is looking to spend in the $12 million range.

The area, with its verdant views, is a magnet for celebs. Kelsey Grammar has also been seen shopping in the area. Unfortunately, Conan O'Brien's Central Park West penthouse is a bit out of Damon's budget, even after the comic dropped the price from $35 million to $29.5 million. And although Glenn Close's Central Park West co-op hits the mark at $10.8 million (just reduced 8 percent from $11.8 million), the 2-bedroom unit is a tad small for this married father of three daughters.

So where in New York should Matt Damon, wife Luci, and their girls make their home away from Miami home (a manse this celebrity purchased in 2005 for $10.3 million)?
Well, I have some ideas for Damon, whose former East Village apartment suffered flood damage. I figure Damon's bartender-turned-interior-designer wife, Luciana Bozan Barroso, may be itching to make over a place after having her creativity bottled up while staying in their rental apartment at the Belnord, 225 West 86th Street (a 226-unit building that sold in 1994 for, can you believe, only a mere $15 million.)

Here's what we know: The family wants to remain within walking distance to Central Park and the Museum of Natural History, as they have already been seen touring a couple of places there, including The Majestic. Located at 115 Central Park West, the 30-story-tall art deco building between 71st and 72nd Streets is a little farther away than Damon's current rental, but it still faces the park. Another potential abode they have reportedly toured is a place in Glenn Close's and Jerry Seinfeld's building, The Beresford, 211 Central Park West. The 22-story U-shaped building, described as a monumental palazzo, has three towers with pyramid roofs. Nice places, but HousingWatch has some others in mind.

Here are three homes for sale in Damon's budget that have great Central Park views and should suit his needs:

Price: $13.95 million
Where: Rush Limbaugh's Place
, 1049 Fifth Avenue
What: 4 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, 4,661 sq ft

Yep, that's right. Rush Limbaugh's gaudy pre-War penthouse with Baroque decor might just be the perfect place. It has two terraces and a double-sized living room overlooking Central Park (Okay, not on the West side, but there's nothing wrong with the Gold Coast. After all, last year Damon scouted out a nearby, much-too-large 8-bedroom co-op chopped from $47.5 million to $19.9 million). Limbaugh's place is an appropriate size. The eastern wing has 4 bedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms. There is a separate windowed bedroom with bath on the third floor, perfect for a nanny, maid or an eldest daughter once she hits her teen years and wants to escape her much younger half-sisters. There is also an elevator entry to the central foyer, a wood paneled library and a media room. The unit is a canvas -- just not a blank one. (See the pics here). It desperately awaits the touch of a tasteful interior designer who knows how to make a mean Mojito. The home is listed with Haidee Granger, The Corcoran Group.

Price: $13.9 million
Where: 271 Central Park West
What: 5 bedrooms, 5.5 baths, 4,000 sq ft

This pre-war penthouse duplex, in a 13-floor neo-Renaissance architectural style building, has many original details that even a recently trained interior designer should appreciate -- and not to mention recognize that it's time to makeover the mirrored dining room. (See all the pics here.) A very attractive feature is the expansive wraparound private roof-top terrace with views of Central Park and cross street West 87th. It could be the perfect private playground for the girls and their playdates on the days their dad might want them to avoid paparazzi lurking in the park below. The unit has been the home of veteran broker Agnes Nolan since 1964 and is definitely overdue for some young blood romping about. It is listed with Dolly Lenz of Prudential Elliman.

Price: $12,242,500
Where: The Apthorp, 390 West End Ave. #2C
What: 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, 4305 sq ft

The Apthorp, a 1908 building with Renaissance Revival architecture is very similar to the Belnord, where the Damon family now rents about eight blocks away. The Apthorp was a rental building that began going condo under a new owner around 2007 (See exterior shots.) So, if in reality Luci doesn't want to bring her work home with her at the end of the day, there might not be as much "old world" design to have to work around given the unit's recent remodeling. However, the residences here do feature many unique details such as original herringbone wood floors, hand-cut mosaic tile entry foyers and hand-crafted ceiling moldings. This unit is also listed with Lenz of Prudential Elliman.

Tell us which places listed here, or not, you think the "Invictus" star (and object of Sarah Silverman's desire) should purchase.

If you need to do a little browsing before you make up your mind: See more Central Park West homes for sale here, or you can view other New York homes for sale.


More celebrity real estate news.

Sheree R. Curry, an award-winning real estate and personal finance journalist, used to work in Mid-town Manhattan and would roller blade through Central Park. She now lives a more sedentary life in Minneapolis.
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