Price Queens

Price Queens
With millionaires practically getting priced out of Manhattan, brokers are trying to lure the rich across the river to Queens.

Douglas Elliman is selling a $3.5 million duplex penthouse it’s feeling a little conflicted about. Sure, the place has four bedrooms, two balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and 180-degree views. But the company doesn’t include it in its Treasury of Fine Homes brochure, apparently because it’s in Forest Hills, Queens. Not exactly Archie Bunker’s neighborhood, but still more the territory of successful contractors than Sex and the City strivers.

Is it possible Queens is the next stop for the city’s upper-class refugees? Manhattan’s brokerages are hoping so. The William B. May Company, which was an early adapter in brownstone Brooklyn, too, has been marketing the 1924 waterfront estate of Arthur Hammerstein in Beechhurst. It’s been divided up into townhouses that fetch up to $780,000, says the broker, Cesar Guevara. “They would have to pay double in Manhattan, if not more,” he says. “When they come to me, they’ve exhausted the possibility of living elsewhere.”

“If you’re buying a million-dollar condo in Manhattan, why not go out to the boroughs and own your home?” asks broker Patrick Mazza of First Choice Real Estate, whose 70-year-old Tudors in Forest Hills are a popular choice among diplomats. “There are certain stigmas, but that is with people who are not familiar with Queens.” Still, he says, “there is no problem selling these houses. There are buyers lurking to get in.”

Elliman broker Brad Poster, who’s selling the $3.5 million penthouse, is on lurker patrol. “It sounds expensive, but it’s a bargain,” he says. The condo, in the eight-year-old Pinnacle high-rise, has been on the market for about three months, and the price has been lowered a million bucks. “It overlooks Flushing Meadow Park – you can look out the window and feel like you’re in Trump Tower overlooking Central Park,” Poster suggests. “It’s for the person who wants Manhattan.”

On the Move
Schwab Invests in Co-op

With nasdaq deflating, perhaps San Francisco-based online-brokerage pioneer Charles Schwab has decided that it’s safer to invest in Manhattan real estate. Brokers say that he’s signed on to buy a $5.8 million penthouse at 834 Fifth Avenue, home of Jets owner Woody Johnson and ex-Sotheby’s chairman Alfred Taubman. “It’s a weird little apartment,” says one broker of the 1,900-square-foot pad. “It has this little terrace off the bedroom, a tiny kitchen with a skylight, and a roof terrace that you get to through these stairs in a closet.” It was cited in an August front-page story in the Times as an example of how prices were down after its asking price, $7.9 million in the spring, was reduced twice. (“We were testing the market,” explained Hall Willkie of Brown Harris Stevens.) Brokers say Schwab, who was working with William B. May’s Roger Erickson,”wanted a power building.” The power co-op board has yet to meet on his application.

Big Deals

East Village
246 East 5th Street.
1-bedroom, 1-bath, 320-square-foot house. Ask: $395,000. Sell: $370,000. Four weeks on market.

It’s like living in a tree house,” says Douglas Elliman’s Sylvia Morton of the tiny carriage house just off the Bowery that she sold to a young couple. Built in the 1840s, it has a large, arched window over the entrance, where the horses used to clatter in, and a huge skylight over the second-floor bedroom. A pattern of lucky pennies on the façade dates from the pre-Rent days of the East Village. It’s only sixteen feet wide and there’s no garden, but there’s a usable cellar for subterranean expansion. “To have a little house for that price is amazing,” Morton says.”We priced it like a one-bedroom co-op and added a bit more for the romance.”

Murray Hill
155 East 35th Street.
2-bedroom, 2-bath, 4,800-square-foot house. Ask: $2.1 million. Sell: $1.85 million. Six months on market.

Thirty blocks uptown, this larger carriage house is adjacent to the historic mews of Sniffen Court. It maintains its usable indoor driveway – perfect for the seller, a commercial photographer who used the horse space as a studio for 30 years. He lived with his family upstairs, says Massey Knakal’s John Ciraulo, who sold it. The new owner isn’t going to bunk any horses, so he plans to renovate to add more room for people.

Price Queens