Realty Bites: Glass Houses
Howard Roark never worried about resale.
It's always been hard to sell architectural heroism to Manhattan's millionaires, whose tastes tend to run more toward lacquered preservationism. "Most people who are in the market," says Stribling's Tim Desmond, "want traditional details." That's why it took two years to unload Paul Rudolph's intricately renovated house at 23 Beekman Place (Sotheby's Fred Williams sold it for $5.5 million). "There are clear floors and spaces that interconnect and overlap," Williams says, and potential buyers "were literally crawling on their hands and knees because they were fearful of falling down." Selling such a place "is a bit more like marketing a piece of art." Maybe that's why art dealer Anthony d'Offay is having Christie's auction off his 1950 Japanese-in-metal house at 242 East 52nd Street (it was built for the Rockefellers by Philip Johnson, who acknowledges that it "would make a wonderful office"). Architect Edward Durell Stone's 1956 "neo-Baroque" 130 East 64th Street house was also a tough sale. The concrete façade was taken down by his widow, then rebuilt by order of the Landmarks Preservation Commission before it could be sold last year for $2.3 million. "Atypical" houses, says Sharon E. Baum of Corcoran, who sold it, "take longer to sell, but people like buying something that's a name property." In 1997, Desmond sold another Rudolph brainchild, 251 West 13th Street, for $1.95 million to TV writer Tom Fontana. Fontana spent two years and $1.7 million de-geniusing it ("The place was ridiculous," he told the Times). Even if the Beekman buyers' 5-year-old is terrified of the cliff-hanging Jacuzzi, their broker, Douglas Elliman's Jan Hashey, says their renovation "more or less consists of a quart of Windex and paper towels."
Horsing Around in the Hamptons
Kelly Klein gets ready for a stable life after Calvin.
Giddy-up! photographer Kelly Klein, Calvin's estranged wife, is about to buy the farm her horses already call home. Sources say she's set to pay $3.9 million for Five Tails, a horse habitat on Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. The property comes with stables and barns but no house. The sellers are Geri Bauer and actress Stefanie Powers (best known for playing crime-solving seventies millionairess Jennifer Hart on Hart to Hart), who ran it as a business. Real-estate sources say that Bauer and Powers have been interested in selling Five Tails for some time. They made the deal directly with Kelly; she already stabled there, so it made horse sense. Kelly keeps herself in the huge gray shingle-style house that she and Calvin bought on West End Road in East Hampton early in their marriage. Since they separated, Calvin has been renting in the East End, though the two are spotted together sometimes at equestrian events like the Hampton Classic. Meanwhile, Kelly's back in the saddle, and was linked last fall with Nick Manifold, a 31-year-old polo player.
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Upper West Side
144 West 82nd Street
Eight-bedroom, 6 1/2-bath, 6,400-square-foot townhouse. Asking: $3.5 million. Selling: $3.7 million. Time on market: one year.
This five-story 1882 townhouse had crumbled into a crack-scented SRO by the time it was bought in a 1990 foreclosure. Buying out all the tenants took six years (one elderly man was given a limo ride all the way to Miami), and renovations -- digging out a basement to create an additional floor, replacing the wood frame with steel, installing central A/C -- took two and a half more. When it was done, there were two units; the lower one was rented by actor Richard Kind (Paul on Spin City), the upper by the CEO of a financial firm for $20,000 a month. When the landlord decided to sell (through Bellmarc's Ron Greenwood), the CEO offered full price, but a hedge-fund manager (brought in by Douglas Elliman's Lyn Scarpati) outbid her by $200,000 -- all cash. He's going to make it a one-family home again -- complete with an elevator.
860 U.N. Plaza
Three-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath, 2,500-square-foot co-op. Asking: $1.1 million. Selling: $1.2 million. Maintenance: $2,794. Time on market: one month.
The international-style elegance of this tower and its next-door twin has attracted Establishment figures since they went up in 1966. Bobby Kennedy and Johnny Carson once lived here; today, S. I. Newhouse and Walter Cronkite do. The buyer of this place, a Carter-administration secretary of the Army, is relocating from D.C. to run a Wall Street firm (Joanna Simon of Fox Residential Group sold it). Cable TV is included in the maintenance, despite the jaw-dropping northern and eastern views.