In New York, the saying goes, no view is permanent.
The plight of multimillionaire Edward Bazinet proves the universality of this maxim: Even if you own one of the most expensive and unusual penthouses in Lower Manhattan, your view can still be blocked.
The north side of Mr. Bazinet's five-story, modern-art-filled penthouse at 60 Warren St. has a sweeping 24-foot window with views of the Empire State Building, as well as a small greenhouse attached to the kitchen. But the sound of hammering and drilling on a new 14-story hotel-condominium called the Smyth just a few floors below foretells a shadier future. "I'm not thrilled, obviously," Mr. Bazinet, 64, who is worth more than $100 million after retiring from the ceramic collectibles business he founded, said in an interview.
"My sixth-floor windows will be gone, and three other floors are losing north-side views," he said. "Their abutting wall will be right up next to my patio area and greenhouse."
Mr. Bazinet put the apartment on the market in 2006 for $28.5 million, the most expensive listing for a downtown apartment at the time. But in October 2007, he took it off because of the construction, his broker at Sotheby's, Stephen McRae, said.
"We had offers on it, but people didn't want to live through the construction," Mr. McRae said, adding that the penthouse will likely go back on the market after the hotel's basic frame is complete.
Mr. Bazinet vowed to increase the price, arguing that the nearly 10,000-square-foot penthouse is so unique that one lost view will not diminish its value.
The apartment has views of the city on all four sides, including the Hudson River on the west.
A real estate appraiser, Jonathan Miller, said wrap-around views on a penthouse could account for between 25% and 50% of the price. He said he could not comment specifically on Mr. Bazinet's penthouse. "Anytime you lose one-fourth of your view, that's also natural light and privacy lost," he said. "It could be a very considerate impact" on price.
Mr. Bazinet originally bought the space in 2001 for $13.15 million from the chief executive of StarMedia Network, Fernando Espuelas, who had bought it for $6.1 million the year before.
One of the original developers of the penthouse, which sits atop the five-story 19th-century Munitions Building, was the founder of ImClone, Samuel Waksal, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence in Michigan for securities fraud. Mr. Bazinet said he sued Waksal and his partners for shoddy construction.
Three years and millions of dollars later, the penthouse was transformed into one of the most unusual properties in Lower Manhattan, but Mr. Bazinet said he was tired of "vertical living."
In the 2007 book "Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich," Mr. Bazinet told author Robert Frank that he wanted to scale back.
"It's not comfortable," he told Mr. Frank. "Sometimes you don't know until you're living in a space. But this feels too big for two people. It's great when you have people for a party. But upstairs it feels like a big fishbowl with just a few people. There are no cozy areas."
At one point Mr. Bazinet said he considered buying the plot of land where the new hotel is rising, which was on the market for $24 million, to prevent his view from being blocked. But he did not want the added responsibility of developing it. "I had enough headaches in New York," he said.
Mr. Bazinet started out designing flower arrangements in his home state of Minnesota, and he hit on the idea of selling collectible ceramic villages in the 1970s, according to "Richistan." He retired from the company he founded, called Department 56, in 1997. He has two Ocicats, a rare breed of cat, and co-owns a Gulfstream jet.
The architect who redesigned the penthouse and orchestrated the addition of another floor to Mr. Bazinet's penthouse, Andrea Ballerini, said he had enlarged the northern window to take better advantage of the view.
"We cut the beam and made a bigger window," he said. "You can see completely to the Empire State Building."
The Smyth, which will include 100 hotel rooms, 15 hotel condominiums, and a restaurant and bar in the lobby, "will be very bad," Mr. Ballerini said. "It is New York and it is bad luck."
The penthouse has a private elevator, three terraces, a gym, and a dark room.
Mr. Bazinet, who lives there with his partner, a Belgian photographer, has filled the apartment with modern art. Directly inside the 24-foot window that is losing its view is a 700-piece Dale Chihuly chandelier. Near a stairwell is a 30-foot LED installation by Jenny Holzer, and elsewhere are a Jason Brooks painting, a 1,300-pound Antony Gormley sculpture, two Eric Fischl sculptures, and a giant Bisazza-tile portrait of Napoleon, according to an article in New York magazine featuring the space.
The developer of the Smyth, William Brodsky of TriBeCa Associates, said he has met with Mr. Bazinet to discuss mitigating the effect of the construction. One idea is to plant ivy or another plant on the section of the wall that blocks the apartment.
"One of the things that we are not thrilled about is that we're taking Ed's view, and we're sorry about that," Mr. Brodsky said.