Together Again

Realty Bites: Together Again
Robber barons reclaim city castles. The new economy may be bringing in a new Gilded Age, but Manhattan is minting way more kajillionaires than there are mansions and full-floor apartments. “Nothing out there is big enough anymore,” says Douglas Elliman’s Iva Spitzer. Buyers “want to think they’re living in a house – even within a building.” So instead of merely connecting a couple of postwar boxes, the newly rich are reassembling Edwardian palaces that were divided during a more egalitarian age. At 190 Riverside Drive, a turn-of-the-century building that’s going condo (Spitzer is the broker for the conversion), apartment 4C spent years as a trio of nicely detailed one-bedrooms. After nine months of renovation – “really restoration,” says Spitzer – it was a four-bedroom, four-bathroom spread with maid’s room and library. (It just sold for $2.875 million, after a whole ten days on the market; others in the building are getting the same treatment.) A similar reattachment took place at 67 Riverside Drive, where two apartments per floor had become four. Owner Enma Baron, a Corcoran broker, rejoined her apartment to an amputated one-bedroom to restore the 1905 layout. (She bought the one-bedroom a few years ago, then sublet it for a while before knocking down the wall.) Laura Matiz, a Bellmarc broker, turned a one-bedroom and a studio on East 82nd Street back into a classic seven – and snagged it for herself. (Brokers really do get the best places!) Of course, these homeowners aren’t curators, and expansion rather than true restoration is really the goal. “At the turn of the century, the kitchen was where the cook stayed, and it was in the back somewhere,” notes Spitzer. “So we’ve been relocating the kitchens, so they have river views.”

Only on Park Avenue, Kids
Cindy Adams gives up on plan to sell place for $11 million.

Back in february, cindy adams had the idea to try to sell her penthouse at 475 Park Avenue, which she’d bought from the Doris Duke estate in 1997 for $1.4 million, for $11 million. Brokers were skeptical; one of the half-dozen she asked for an estimate said the price should be closer to $6.5 million. The 3,000-square-foot place has nine rooms, 1,000 square feet of terraces, and a maintenance of $3,200 a month. Two months later, she signed a contract to buy the 2,800-square-foot duplex owned by post-eighties couple Jay McInerney and Helen Bransford, who are divorcing. It’s in the hoity-toity Carlyle House at 50 East 77th Street, which offers room service from the adjacent hotel. They had awkwardly combined two apartments and tried to sell it for $3.5 million in 1998 before trying again for $2.5 last October. Adams passed the co-op board but then backed out of the deal, though sources say she managed not to lose all of her deposit. According to her office, she decided not to buy or sell because “she had a change of heart.”

Big Deals

Midtown East
401 East 60th Street
Three-bedroom, three-bath, 2,007-square-foot condominium. Asking: $1.865 million. Selling: $1.865 million. Charges and taxes: $1,990. Time on market: two months.

“Nothing surprised them,” says American Real Estate Group’s Hideko Horiguchi of this apartment’s buyers. “They’re from San Francisco” – maybe the only real-estate market as nasty as New York’s. It was dot-com money, of course, that got a couple with one child (and another on the way) this three-bedroom thirty-second-floor place in the Bridge Tower rising near the new Conran shop. The apartment will be done by Christmas, but the family won’t be moving; they bought it for visits. Why so much room? “They said, ‘The maid has to come,’ ” says Horiguchi. They’ll feel right at home: Their view includes the Roosevelt Island tram – really just a cable car in the sky.

Upper East Side
176 East 75th Street
Four-bedroom, four-bath, 4,320-square-foot townhouse. Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $5 million.Time on market: three weeks.

This four-story carriage house was once owned by the late playwright Muriel Resnick, best known for Any Wednesday, a 1964 Broadway hit about a rich guy’s weekly romps with his mistress (the wife comes by; high jinks ensue). Her estate sold it in 1996 for $1.5 million to a Wall Street family that got rid of the first-floor office and turned it into a four-bedroom house with A/C and a family room off the garden. Then, this spring, “they came back to me and said, ‘We’re moving out of the city,’ ” says Leslie Garfield, the broker who sold it to them. The buyers, brought in by Stribling & Associates, were coming from a Park Avenue place that they sold in a week for about $2.3 million in cash. Pressed for time, they were willing to bid up the price for the carriage house to $500,000 over ask, which should help get the sellers
started in Connecticut.

Together Again