The Inn Crowd

Realty Bites: The Inn Crowd
Who wants to live like Eloise?

“Living in a hotel is just this side of paradise!” belts out Broadway legend Elaine Stritch, who lived at the Regency Hotel for six years before moving to Sag Harbor. “You can dial a number and get help in almost any department in your life. Even if you’re just suffering from loneliness.” Loneliness-abatement isn’t an advertised perk, but hotel living has just the right touch of excess for these irrationally exuberant times. “It’s a symptom of a market awash in liquidity,” says Kirk Henckels of Stribling Private Brokerage. It’s also a symptom of rising numbers of renovations and millionaires’ selling their apartments before they have someplace to go. Emily Kanders, a spokesperson for the Regency (home to Vernon Jordan and George Steinbrenner), says requests have quadrupled, and prices are rising accordingly – brokers say that the Carlyle has recently hit its residents, including Barry Diller, with increases of up to 25 percent. The Palace Hotel might be a grim black-metal monolith dropped on top of Le Cirque 2000, but it just hired Corcoran’s Peter Belmante to lease suites by the half-year (for $7,000 to $75,000 a month) instead of by the week. Belmante refused to confirm that the Palace might sell off the units as condos, so residents never have to check out. The model might be the dowdy St. Moritz on Central Park South, which is being redeveloped as a Ritz Carlton with twelve apartments on top. Brokers say prices will start at $15 million and go up to more than $30 million. Michael Dell, George Soros, and Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer are all said to have looked over the building without taking out their checkbooks. One Forbes 400 member who might do so apparently wanted terraces for his dogs.

Makin’ Whoopi $5.3 Million
Goldberg drops boyfriend, house, thirteen-room apartment.

Back in March, Whoopi Goldberg broke up with her beau of five years, vampire actor Frank Langella. She’s also been steadily unloading various real-estate reminders of the relationship. The first week of June, she sold her apartment, a 4,800-square-foot four-bedroom on the fifteenth floor of a very Waspy building at 151 East 79th Street. She’d put it on the market on May 1 for $5.6 million, after sending around a note asking if anyone in the building was interested. Her office in Los Angeles would only confirm that “she has found a buyer,” but brokers say a contract was signed for about $5.3 million – a Whoopee!-worthy jackpot, considering she paid a reported $2.9 million in 1996. (That’s assuming the buyer gets past the tendentious co-op board; Goldberg helped her cause in 1996 by buying the board president’s place.) Maintenance is $4,800 a month. Other brokers complained that Brown Harris Stevens, which represented her, did the job so quietly, they didn’t see the place. Not that it mattered. Goldberg has also sold her 1860 house in Cornwall, Conn., but she’ll keep her outpost in Tuxedo Park and a house in the Pacific Palisades for when she’s filming Hollywood Squares.

Big Deals

Upper West Side
104 West 70th Street
Three-bedroom, four-bath, 1,730-square-foot condominium. Asking: $1.075 million. Selling: $995,000. Charges and taxes: $1,832. Time on market: eight weeks.

This 1902 building’s Reagan revolution didn’t respect traditional values: In a 1980 gut rehab, all the moldings and details were stripped away. But the original high ceilings remain, making this duplex one very tall apartment. It was assembled from a two-bedroom, the adjacent studio, and another studio beneath that one. (A proper staircase, not just a spiral, was added between them.) The apartment’s original owner was a Brazilian who’d bought it to be near Lincoln Center for opera season. Douglas Elliman’s Sheree Yellin found the buyer, a man in the real-estate business who lived elsewhere in the building.

Upper East Side
200 East 61st Street
Two-bedroom, 2 and 1/2-bath, 2,200-square-foot condominium. Asking: $3.9 million. Selling: $3.8 million. Charges and taxes: $4,557. Time on market: four months.

“It’s like a townhouse on top of the building,” crows DG Neary broker Brian Ardoli. He’s not exaggerating: this penthouse has two fireplaces, a steam room, and a Jacuzzi spread over floors 42 through 44 of a 1986 tower built on the corner of Third Avenue. The prior owner added a greenhouse on the roof, which is easily the size of a city backyard – the outdoor space alone totals 1,100 square feet. The buyers are Parisians (their broker was Brown Harris Stevens’s Wendy Singer Spotts) who will water the plants only when they’re in town. And if Pastis doesn’t meet their approval, there’s always the building’s private, tenants-only restaurant.

The Inn Crowd