The only force powerful enough to deny a Master of the Universe a co-op? The super, man.
Facing a co-op board is a tense situation for people who are used to being top dog, a time when their job, portfolio, bichon frise, and trophy wife will be examined, judged, and quite possibly found wanting. Worst of all, a snub might not even come from a fellow Master of the Universe. As Hall Willkie of Brown Harris Stevens explains, "Being rude to a super or a doorman can be the kiss of death."
While the guy who fixes the sink might not seem important, giving him attitude could cost you that gorgeous classic six. "Word can get back if you're obnoxious to the concierge or the super," says Jane Bayard of Ashforth Warburg. "They have feelings and they have the ears of the proper people." It's not that the board seeks out the super's opinion necessarily, says Gumley Haft Kleier president Michele Kleier, but "if he's well-liked and he's been there for a while, he certainly has some influence on what the board members think."
In other words, being able to buy and sell anyone in the lobby doesn't mean you should act like you might. Willkie tries to gently impress on clients that "their dealings should be polite and professional, because it's a reflection on them to the board." And they should not, as Bayard puts it, think they can "say anything to the unimportant person."
Bayard represented one couple that was in contract to buy an apartment but wound up being deep-sixed after they just couldn't hold back from visiting the place repeatedly. "People don't understand the repercussions of being a nuisance," she says. "If any privilege is abused before approval, the board will probably hear about it."
Kleier agrees that serial visits are a common screw-up: One of her clients went back to visit an apartment sixteen times. But the coup de grâce might have been when that client told the super, "This is the ugliest lobby I've seen on Park Avenue. I really hope that they're going to redecorate it." The super just happened to mention that to the board member who'd redecorated the lobby a year before. He didn't get in.
LISSA TOWNSEND RODGERS
Divorce, Hotelier Style
Schrager Checks In
Ian Schrager has been scoping out real estate beyond Astor Place, and this time it's not for one of his minimalist hotels. The master hotelier ponied up $5.4 million for an eight-room, 2,800-square-foot apartment at 101 Central Park West for his estranged wife, Rita Norona, and their two daughters. (William B. May's Roger Erickson was the broker.) Even though Harrison Ford is a neighbor, "the apartment is not spectacular," says one broker who's been there, "but it has four rooms facing the park, so it gets a lot of light." Still, she'll be better off than some of the guests at her ex's new Astor Place hotel, which will include Japanese-commuter-hotel, bunk-bed-style compartment-rooms. Schrager's only worry: the co-op board. "This building is far more restrictive than most on the Upper West Side," the broker says. Hey, it wasn't easy to get into Studio 54, either. Schrager had no comment.
5 East 22nd Street
3-bed, 2.5-bath, 2,000-square-foot condo. Ask: $2.5 million. Sell: $2.4 million. Charges and taxes: $1,904. One day on the market.
On the very few days this California-based bank president is actually in New York, "views are his thing," says Gloria Sokolin of Fox Residential Group, who, with her partner, Judy Woodfin, has sold him three city pads. The other two are in the Evans Tower on East 84th Street. He bought this one, with views of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, to reduce his in-town commute: "He's on the board of a major dance company and figured that since he spends all his time after work downtown, he might as well live there."
59 West 12th Street
1-bed, 1-bath, 900-square-foot condo. Ask: $1.2 million. Sell: $1.4 million. Charges and taxes: $1,317. Three weeks on market.
Remember when $530,000 was big money downtown? Back in 1988, Douglas Elliman's Ogden Starr decided not to show this place to a then-client, longtime Calvin Klein creative director Zack Carr, because he "said he wanted two bedrooms." Oops: Carr ended up seeing the place through another broker, fell in love, and bought it for what was "a lot of money for those days." Starr was recently vindicated: When the place came on the market this past January (following Carr's death in December), a client offered $1.4 million to win it in a bidding war.