Movie Stars Strike?

SAG Hits Digs Biz
Has the threat of strikes by Hollywood’s Prada-clad proletariat put Manhattan real estate in turnaround?

For months now, Hollywood’s been battening down the hatches in case of an actors’ and writers’ strike. Already facing the prospect of a national recession, Los Angeles might have to contend with a $7.4 billion hit in personal income, and real-estate brokers are worried. As in the rest of the economy, it’s all about consumer confidence: People afraid they’re going to be out of work aren’t going to be moving. But is the fear also affecting New York entertaindom?

Previously battered by a Wall Street decline and a dot-com collapse, brokers say the psychological effect is already in place, although New York is nowhere near as vulnerable as L.A. Still, “people have been watching their wallets,” says Late Night With Conan O’Brien writer Chris Albers. “Everybody’s concerned about going without salary for half a year.” Says Stribling’s Bruce Ehrmann, who has sold to Ben Stiller and the Coen brothers, “A few of my customers are holding off making purchase decisions until they see what’s going to happen.”

That said, $20 million a picture sure beats paper wealth. “If the movie stars go on strike, they’ll just have more time to look for apartments,” says Douglas Elliman’s Linda Stein, who’s done deals for Bruce Willis and Rupert Everett. “It’s more an issue for the rank and file,” says Barbara Fox of Fox Residential Group.

“The struggling actor who’s doing commercials and bit parts – they’re gonna be hurt,” says Bob Scaglion of Citi-Habitats. Take 24-year-old actor-waiter Austin Lysy, who’s relieved that he got a gig on a Tic Tac commercial. Without those residuals, he says, “I’d be in really, really bad shape – I wouldn’t be able to live here.” So don’t forget to tip.

Hamptons Housing Court
Battle of the Billionaires

Why can’t all the moguls just get along? After three years, it looks like Hard Rock Hotel founder Peter Morton is finally going to get to live in the East Hampton home he’s been fighting over with developer Sheldon Solow. The 10,000-square-foot oceanfront Norman Tudor, on West End Road near Calvin Klein’s place, has been “under siege by Solow and his ‘never say die’ attitude,” according to Morton’s attorney, Errol Margolin. The feud goes way back: A Dr. Feldstein agreed to buy the house in 1993 from its then owner, Jack Rounick. Their deal was basically a rich man’s rent-to-own agreement, under which Feldstein would pay off the $7 million price over six years. Five years into the deal, Feldstein sold the mansion to Morton for $10 million, pocketing $3 million in the process. Displeased, Rounick then agreed to sell it to Solow for the original price of $7 million – which would have been a coup for Solow, but Morton still wanted it. So off to court they went. Last month, the State Court of Appeals in Albany declared Feldstein and therefore Morton the rightful owner, and set April 10 as the closing date, when Solow would hand over the deed. Only Solow didn’t show, so now a motion has been set for the Suffolk County sheriff to execute the deed in his behalf.

Big Deals

Upper East Side
25 East 62nd Street
4-bed, 3-bath, 3,200-square-foot townhouse. Ask: $2.75 million. Sell: $2.6 million. Taxes: $13,000. Three weeks on market.

A music-industry exec and a stay-at-home mom shopped for four years until they found this brownstone. They had wanted an easy-listening restoration project but ended up with a concept album. “It’s a single-family that’s never been cut up and was owner-occupied for the last 50 years,” says their broker, William B. May’s Kathleen Burns Hoffman. “It needs quite a bit of restoration.” It’s never easy to get signed by a label guy. “Nothing was ever quite right,” says Hoffman. “But it was a matter of time. A certain readiness kicks in.”

Greenwich Village
30 East 10th Street
3-bed, 11/2-bath, 1,650-square-foot co-op. Ask: $950,000. Sell: $895,000. Maintenance: $1,169. Fourteen weeks on market.

Way back in March 2000, a couple made a backup offer on this prewar (located on the same block as Il Cantinori) and jetted off to France for a month. While they were munching croissants, the buyer backed out after hearing elevator repairs would have him climbing stairs for months, according to Corcoran’s Margaretta Douglas. When the co-op went back on the market, the ensuing scrum was won by a bidder willing to pay well over the asking price – in cash. When that buyer defaulted, the couple got the place after all. By the time they closed, in March 2001, the elevator was working again.

Movie Stars Strike?