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Great Buy for the Queer Eye

Same-sex couples flock to New Paltz.

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EDITED BY CHRISTOPHER BONANOS

BY JEFF VANDAM

The New Paltz marriage boom may be on a court-ordered hiatus, but the village’s new reputation as a uniquely tolerant town has had one effect that’s bound to last. Like newlyweds everywhere, those freshly married couples are house-hunting, along with a lot of people who’ve been watching the news. So perhaps it’s no surprise that New Paltz has become the place for same-sex couples to settle—and local Realtors are poised for a great summer.

“There’s definitely been an increase in traffic,” says Scott Durkin, chief operating officer of the Corcoran Group and owner of a weekend house near New Paltz. “With the attention from the weddings, it’s just going to get busier. We just put our house on the market, and the first people to see it were a gay couple.”

“When we moved up from the city, we didn’t know how people here would treat gay people,” says Billiam van Roestenberg, a New Paltz Realtor and half of the first couple to be married there in February. “But we get along famously! We have our neighbors over for dinner and barbecues. I lend them eggs, and they drop off homemade pies.”

In New Paltz and nearby towns like Clintondale and Rosendale, houses average $300,000 or so, with few topping $700,000. The area has a progressive history—hippies performed collective street sweeping in the seventies, SUNY–New Paltz brings in a liberal crowd—and Ulster County in general is showing signs of becoming the New York gay community’s official satellite location.

Jennifer Smits and Dana Wegener, who were married the same day as Van Roestenberg (he’s also their broker), say marriage convinced them to buy in New Paltz. “Without the wedding, your home and what you own together is in jeopardy,” Smits says. “Now we feel much more secure in staking a claim.” They’re shopping for a two-bedroom home with potential for growth. Amy Kizer, founder of the Manhattan-based dog-accessories line Wagwear, is about to close on a four-bedroom house on twenty acres just outside town, and her timing is just right: She’ll share the house with Jonathan Reed and Ken Hayden, a couple from London whose interest was piqued after the marriages began. “It’s attracting more gays to the area,” Kizer says. “We laugh about it, but it means a boost in property values.” —Jeff Vandam

Have You Considered Jersey?
Edie Falco seeks loft.
Carmela Soprano may be hanging onto the house, but Edie Falco, newly split from Stanley Tucci, is apartment-hunting. Sources say the Sopranos star is touring $2 million Tribeca lofts, and that her broker has asked about one in Soho. “She walked in with an entourage, chewing gum,” says a spy. “Very Carmela.” Falco has yet to put her Barrow Street house (she paid $2.55 million two years ago) on the market.

BANK ON IT: The late Goldman Sachs partner Arthur Altschul’s estate is selling his 5,200-square-foot apartment at 993 Fifth Avenue to financier Les Lieberman and his wife, Court TV vice-president Barri Chattman, for about $12 million. But it wasn’t easy: Last fall, the tough co-op board rejected a buyer who, unlike the Liebermans, didn’t have deep-enough pockets. Altschul, whose daughter is CBS’s Serena Altschul, died in 2002 at 81. Elliman broker Linda Stein didn’t return calls for comment. —Deborah Schoeneman


Big Deals
Chelsea
323 West 21st Street
Three-unit, 8,000-square-foot former firehouse. Ask: $4.295 million.
Sell: $4.45 million.
Time on market: Six months.
A decade ago, “this place was a wreck,” remembers Douglas Elliman broker Elissa Slan. Lucky for the latest buyers of this circa-1864 firehouse, an architect had moved in and renovated, leaving the sunny space with maple floors, a serious kitchen, and a solarium. The buyers were looking for an investment property—and already have a tenant.

Tribeca
424 Washington Avenue
1,278-square-foot one-bedroom condo.
Ask: $1.15 million.
Sell: $1.15 million.
Charges: $686.
Time on market: One month.
“They had a lot of guts—I’ll give them that,” says Halstead’s Alan Pfeifer of the couple with a kid who bought this raw space. “They could look at the building structure, the plans, the neighborhood—and that’s it.” (The building was in such construction disarray that they couldn’t go inside.) What’s more, they moved fast: The whole process, from initial inquiry to contract, took two days. “It’s a very good school district, so it’s attracting a lot of families, and you’re getting amenities, like a doorman and concierge, you don’t usually find downtown,” explains Pfeifer. “Of course you’re paying for them. Big-time.” —Sara Cardace


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