Deeds & Don'ts: Get the Inside Scoop on New York Real Estate
These New York digs and neighborhoods are hot out on the market. Penthouse D, one of New York's most desirable tower apartments at Breseford is just waiting to be snatched up once famous editor Helen Gurley Brown's estate puts it on the market.
When will the late Helen Gurley Brown’s
Central Park West penthouse hit the market? So far, it’s anyone’s guess.
The freewheeling writer and editor, who passed away at age 90 last August, was one of feminism’s most colorful characters, best known for editing Cosmopolitan and authoring the seminal ’60s liberation classic, Sex and the Single Girl. Even though she’s no longer with us, Brown is setting tongues wagging again, as brokerages vie for the chance to list what is likely to be a record-setting sale for a co-op on Central Park West. Her apartment, Penthouse D, is the most desirable tower penthouse at the Beresford, the prestigious 1929 building designed by architect Emery Roth. Brown and her husband, David, bought the place in the 1970s from director Mike Nichols, and fellow neighbors have included Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe, and producer Bob Weinstein, whose duplex apartment on the 16th and 17th floors was recently on the market for $29.75 million, though it’s currently not listed.
The record sale for a Central Park West co-op is $26 million for a duplex, also at the Beresford, that sold in 2006, according to broker John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens. Real estate pundits believe Brown’s terraced tower apartment could easily top that figure, even though it needs renovating. But it’s up to her estate to decide when and with whom to list it, and who might eventually benefit from the sale. Brown’s past actions suggest that the proceeds could go to a charitable cause: Always ahead of her time, in January 2012 she announced a donation of $30 million to Columbia and Stanford universities to support innovation in digital media. —Christina Lewis Halpern
Brown: Globe-Photos; Mcenroe: Gustavo Fadel/Shutterstock.com; Seinfeld: lev radin/Shutterstock.com
montague street shuffle
Two new development projects on Montague Street, Brooklyn Heights’s main drag, are breathing fresh air into what had become a somewhat sleepy thoroughfare in New York’s first landmarked historic district. At 98 Montague Street, the former Bossert Hotel, a 1909 Italian Renaissance–style structure once known as the Waldorf-Astoria of Brooklyn, is returning to its original roots. Since 1983 it had been operating as a community facility for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but last November the religious organization sold it for a reported $90 million to David Bistricer of Clipper Equity and Joseph Chetrit of the Chetrit Group. They plan to restore the building and reopen it this summer as a luxury hotel, with 300-plus rooms averaging $300 a night and 225 to 300 square feet each. Public spaces such as the lobby, with its dramatic columns and coffered ceiling, are also being refurbished to match the grandeur of the hotel’s glory days, when guests included titans of industry and even the Brooklyn Dodgers, who celebrated their legendary World Series win over the New York Yankees here in 1955.
Just down the block, at 177 Montague Street, a historic 1915 bank building is being converted into a condominium by Barry Rice Architects, known for classically designed apartment towers such as 823 Park Avenue and 180 East 96th Street in Manhattan. The conversion will be “contextual,” drawing from the structure’s original palazzo-style architecture, says Barry Rice, the firm’s principal. Like similar buildings in the neighborhood, the project’s 13 luxury condos are planned as “family-sized apartments” in the style of traditional prewars, with detailed wood trim and crown moldings. In keeping with the building’s roots, a Chase branch on the street level will remain as a tenant.
The hotel and condo come as Montague Street’s mix of retail tenants has been refreshed during the past year, including Le Pain Quotidien (its first location in Brooklyn), Area Yoga & Spa (a second branch of its growing franchise), and a soon-to-open tapas restaurant. Brigit Pinnell, executive director of the Montague Street Business Improvement District, says that the new activity on Montague “will help reenergize the area and bring even more people.” It certainly doesn’t hurt that Montague terminates at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, with its staggering views of New York Harbor and the ever expanding, waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park. —Barbara Thau
movin' on up
A patch of what has traditionally been called Spanish Harlem is morphing into the newly christened Upper Carnegie Hill, Gotham’s latest emerging high-end neighborhood.
Tony new residential developments are transforming a stretch of Fifth Avenue that was historically considered part of El Barrio, the gritty Latino enclave where a large Puerto Rican community settled in the years after World War II. Comprising the blocks of Fifth Avenue between 96th and 110th streets, Upper Carnegie Hill has long boasted white-glove buildings only a stone’s throw from leafy Central Park—not to mention tenements that line the adjoining side streets and a number of nearby housing projects, where poverty, drug addiction, and crime are still palpable urban problems. (A quarter of Spanish Harlem’s residents live in low-income public housing, the steepest geographic concentration in the country.)
In an apparent bid to preserve the neighborhood’s architectural character, Carnegie Hill proper (86th to 96th streets between Third and Fifth avenues) is making a concerted push north with a spate of prewar residential building conversions, and prices are soaring to predictable new heights. The average sales price for an Upper Carnegie Hill apartment during the second quarter of 2012 was $2.1 million, nearly five times that of an apartment in East Harlem, where prices averaged $425,000, according to the real estate web site StreetEasy.com. (Until last year, StreetEasy lumped the two areas together, but now it defines East—or Spanish—Harlem as 96th to 110th streets from the FDR Drive to Fifth Avenue, while excluding Fifth Avenue—now d.b.a. Upper Carnegie Hill—itself.)
Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Signs of the luxury makeover of the strip surfaced in 2006 with the addition of 1200 Fifth Avenue. A conversion of the Mount Sinai Hospital’s former staff residence, the luxury condo with a vintage prewar ambiance “changed everything,” says StreetEasy vice president Sofia Song, not only pioneering top-tier development in the area, but also “introducing high-end pricing along with it.”
The latest spurt of residential development has brought “a lot of young urban professionals and families,” Song adds. Take 1212 Fifth Avenue, which bills itself as a classic prewar building with a modern sensibility: A two-bedroom apartment recently sold for $1.7 million. The 185-unit glass and stone luxury rental tower at 1214 Fifth Avenue is tricked out with amenities like an indoor lap pool and an entertainment lounge; prices start at $4,395 a month for a one-bedroom and escalate to a cool $11,995 for a three-bedroom. Apartments started renting last May, and they’re going fast: As of last month, 55 percent of the units were rented.
Just eight blocks north stands 1280 Fifth Avenue, also known as One Museum Mile, designed by 15 Central Park West architect Robert A.M. Stern. The new Museum for African Art is set to open this year on the ground floor of the building, where a two-bedroom condo recently sold for nearly $2 million. The museum is the first to be built on Fifth Avenue since the Guggenheim bowed in 1959; Museum Mile now runs from 85th to 110th streets and includes, notably, El Museo del Barrio at 104th Street. —B. T.
Was there ever a more aptly named place than Tuxedo Park? The Orange County hamlet that’s home to fewer than 700 souls started life in 1885 as an exclusive hunting and fishing preserve, attracting such black-tie-wearing bluebloods as J. P. Morgan, Angier Biddle Duke, Henry Poor of Standard & Poor’s, plus a Colgate, a Juilliard, and an Astor, among other highfalutin types. And yes, during its Gilded Age heyday, it inspired the name for the outfit commonly seen on penguins, when a guest at the Tuxedo Club’s annual Autumn Ball in 1886 (the event is still held today) showed up wearing the now ubiquitous fancy black attire. Tuxedo Park’s clubhouse, along with its 13 original cottages, was designed by Bruce Price, who is credited with promoting Shingle Style architecture in America and just happens to have been the father of Emily Post, America’s most famous etiquette arbiter. Said to be the country’s first planned community, Tuxedo Park is still gated and guarded, but no longer just a weekend playground for the affluent. Most residents live here year-round, attracted by the safe, bucolic setting just 55 minutes from midtown Manhattan. And while active real estate listings are as rare as millionaires during the Great Depression, a surprising number of the village’s homes are currently on the market.
The circa-1889 Kane Cruger cottage, listed with Towne & Country’s Fran Liza for $2.495 million, is one of Price’s original 13. The five-bedroom home, measuring an un-cottage-like 5,400 square feet, is constructed of boulders and shingles with a series of carved columns gracing a wide front porch. With vistas of Tuxedo Lake and the Ramapo Mountains, it’s reminiscent of a villa on Lake Como.
Stoneleigh Hall, a 7,000-square-foot Norman-style estate designed in 1928 by architect Frederick Foster, is on the market for $2.95 million. It was built for Paul Tuckerman, whose daughter, Dorothy Draper, became one of the country’s most celebrated decorators during a time when few women were in business for themselves. The Tuckermans were true bluebloods, counting among their extended family connections both Sister Parish (also a famous society decorator) and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Constructed entirely of hand-cut stone, the house comprises eight bedrooms, six-and-a-half bathrooms, an elevator, a wine cellar, and an original oak-paneled library, all on three acres with a formal English garden and views of Tuxedo Lake.
Another prominent listing: the Hunting Lodge, which once served as the Tuxedo Club’s original meeting place. The circa-1890 stone lodge features winter and summer living and dining rooms that open onto an expansive parterre garden planted with heirloom English roses, plus three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms, on 2.8 acres. The asking price is $1.99 million.
The Children’s House, an imposing Gothic Revival manor on 72 private acres overlooking Tuxedo Lake, was built in 1922 by Walker & Gillette. Credited with at least five Tuxedo mansions, not to mention Rye Playland, the firm designed the structure for banking honcho Charles E. Mitchell, whose speculative policies and practices have led many historians to pin the blame on him for the Crash of 1929. Mitchell was arrested for tax evasion, paid fines, served no time, and died with his reputation somewhat intact. The immaculately restored ten-bedroom estate features a many-columned stone loggia overlooking Tuxedo Lake and grounds designed by the Olmsted Brothers. Chris Pomeroy of Halstead Property in New York City has the $5.5 million listing. —Diane di Costanzo
The closest urban-centric New Yorkers ever get to horse country is quite possibly the Westchester town of Bedford. Though she rides in Town Cars more than she does sidesaddle, area resident Martha Stewart often uploads photos of herself astride horses on her blog while heaping praise on the circa-1870s barns and stables of the 12-acre R. H. Macy estate nearby. Now listed for $3.25 million with Sally Slater of Douglas Elliman, the property features a 5,800-square-foot home with a wraparound porch typical of the Victorian era and a riding ring, caretaker’s cottage, dovecote, pool, and rolling Olmsted-designed lawns, all created by the department store magnate for his beloved daughter, Florence.
Horsier still is a premier equestrian facility and residence in Bedford Hills, listed for $10.995 million with Angela Kessel and Camille Branca of Houlihan Lawrence. There’s a spectacular-looking stone barn with stalls for 38 steeds—enough to mount your own cavalcade, should the need arise—and a “client-viewing lounge,” from which buyers can observe prospective purchases in full trot. Also included: indoor and outdoor riding arenas, 11 paddocks, grooms’ quarters, and 31 acres of lawns, meadows, and trails. —D. C.
Usonia equals utopia for some Westchester residents, who typically are drawn to more conventional housing fare like colonials and capes. In the mid-20th century Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to develop Usonia, a 100-acre tract that would eventually accommodate 47 homes within the town of Pleasantville, which didn’t know what to make of the artists, city folk, and “dreamers” who were drawn to the modestly priced, low-slung homes on 1.25 acres each—with nary a picket fence or manicured lawn in sight. Very few of these special properties hit the market, but local Realtor Todd Goddard of Houlihan Lawrence in Armonk currently has the $949,000 listing for the 1951 Gabel house, designed by Wright-hand man Aaron Resnick, who was a Usonia resident himself.
Like Resnick, David Henken was one of Wright’s principal Usonia architects, who later designed several modern homes elsewhere in Westchester, including a recently restored 1956 Pound Ridge house, built around a rock formation, that’s on the market for $1.8 million with David Everson of William Raveis in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
A mere babe in the woods compared to these 1950s icons, the three-bedroom, three-bath 1979 Bama house in Bedford is on the market for $997,000 (Steven Geiger of Houlihan Lawrence in White Plains has the listing). Built by the Harvard Five’s John Johansen—the only architect of that storied group still living—it presaged the era’s trend toward high tech, with steel framing, exposed metal pipes, and a floating staircase. The current owners commissioned Johansen’s son, also an architect, to design an addition that has expanded the interiors to 3,400 square feet.
great gatsby style up for grabs
White Eagle, a five-bedroom brick manor house in the Gold Coast hamlet of Laurel Hollow, is on the market for $3.95 million. It was built in 1929 by Delano & Aldrich, which also designed New York City’s Knickerbocker Club and Oheka Castle in Huntington, Long Island, still the second largest home in the United States.
“White Eagle is one of the last grand estates built before the Crash,” says Paul J. Mateyunas, a North Shore historian, author, and Daniel Gale Sotheby’s agent who has the listing. The Georgian-style structure includes a gallery hall with a black and white marble floor and Olmsted Brothers–designed grounds with terraced lawns and a rose garden. —B. T.