Leverage buyout king Pete Peterson has discovered the Hamptons differential between oceanfront and bayfront, and it’s $5 million.
Mr. Peterson, chairman of the Blackstone Group L.P., put his beachfront house on Fowler Lane on the market for $15 million during the second week of March and was simultaneously offering a little over $10 million for a house of comparable size on Rose Hill Road, abutting Mecox Bay, according to Hamptons brokers.
The Secretary of Commerce under President Richard Nixon, Mr. Peterson and his wife, Joan Ganz Cooney, founder of Children’s Television Workshop, bought the oceanfront property, located in the village of Watermill, L.I., in the late 1980’s. The three-story house, built in 1982, has cedar shingles, brick terraces and several decks; inside, there are six bedrooms and eight and a half baths. The house sits on about four acres of land and has a private swimming pool, its own small pond and tennis courts.
Meanwhile, Hamptons real estate sources say, Mr. Peterson is negotiating to buy a recently built house on a five-acre property on nearby Rose Hill Road, with 350 square feet of frontage on Mecox Bay. “They did like the idea that the house was brand-new,” said a broker familiar with the Petersons’ house-hunting. The Rose Hill Road house, which is on the market for $13.5 million, has many of the same attributes as the couple’s current property: swimming pool, tennis courts, a private pond, six bedrooms.
If Mr. Peterson and Ms. Cooney go through with their pending deal, they’ll gain one new amenity: grass. “The house they’re buying has acres of grass … certainly more controllable than acres of sand dune,” said the source.
Mr. Peterson did not return a call for comment.
WINCHELL BIOGRAPHER GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO FARMHOUSE. Tinseltown chronicler Neal Gabler, who wrote the definitive biography Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity , made sure there was a first-look-style clause in his lease for the 1920’s house in Amagansett that he has rented and lived in year-round for the last five years, so it wouldn’t be sold out from under him. Mr. Gabler finally took advantage of the fine print and bought the renovated farmhouse for $731,500.
The house, on 1.5 acres on Dennistoun Drive, not far from Gardiner’s Bay, was briefly on the market in 1993 for $750,000; when it didn’t sell, it was taken off the market and continued to be rented. Brokers who have since then approached the owner, a Canadian woman, have been told that Mr. Gabler had the right to make the first offer if she wanted to sell it. According to Hamptons brokers, the sale of the house took place directly between the author and his landlord.
The house contains three bedrooms, three baths and a loft space. “It’s a truly elegant, post-and-beam-style home with a lot of class and character,” said Stuart Epstein, owner of Devlin McNiff Real Estate in East Hampton. “It’s a very beautiful part of East Hampton. Very un-Hollywood.”
Mr. Gabler, whose most recent book, Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality , was published last year, shares the house with his wife, Christina Gabler, and his two daughters, Laurel and Tanne. He could not be reached for comment.
Upper East Side
1000 Park Avenue
Four-bed, three-bath, 3,000-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $3.3 million. Selling: $2.95 million.
Charges: $4,100; 45 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: eight months.
10-ROOM CO-OP OF JAILED CITIBANK V.P. GETS $3 MILLION. Former Citibank vice president Carlos Gomez bought this apartment with his wife Alison Spear, an architect, for $1.6 million in April 1995. Last July, Mr. Gomez was sentenced to 55 months in prison for defrauding his employer of some $47 million. In February, their 10-room co-op on Park Avenue near 84th Street was sold for $3 million. The sale is the end to a bull-market fairy tale of sorts: The market was in full bloom and the building, commissioned in 1915 by Alexander and Leo Bing, famous turn-of-the-century developers, and designed by Emery Roth, had just gone co-op, when the couple moved in with their two children. Ms. Spear redesigned the apartment to local acclaim (there was a glossy spread in Quest magazine). Now, another couple’s real estate reverie has picked up where the Gomezes left off.
Upper West Side
125 West 92nd Street
Three-bed, three-bath, 1,200-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $375,000. Selling: $340,000.
Charges: $840; 45 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: nine months.
MAN DISCOVERS CHILDPROOF BUILDING ON UPPER WEST SIDE. There are only four apartments in this co-op brownstone near Broadway, but the ground rules of its shareholders are as rigid as some addresses on Park Avenue. First, every owner has to approve a would-be buyer; second, potential buyers with children and pets seem unlikely to pass muster, since the building is currently petless and there is only one child in the building. That presented a challenge for the parents of the 6-year-old boy (the exception), who decided to upgrade by a room or two. They were attracted to two two-bedroom apartments that they could combine at the Westbury House, a condominium under construction on West 86th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, and signed a contract before the construction was even completed. Back at the brownstone, their broker had to host some 15 Sunday open houses until the right buyer came along: a pet- and child-free single guy who works for a British publishing house. The co-op board gave unanimous nods, and the rules remain intact. Broker: Corcoran Group (Marlena Wood).
West 78th Street, near West End Avenue
Five-story town house.
Asking: $1.35 million. Selling: $1.3 million.
Time on the market: one week.
THE PARENT TRAP. Last December, as the holidays neared, Nina Sankovitch and her husband Jack Menz were hoping for a new home. “We were in a two-bedroom,” explained Ms. Sankovitch. “Last April, we [already] had two kids, and my husband had a daughter from a previous marriage, and she moved in with us, and I was pregnant and due to deliver in June.” After their third son arrived, the couple began an Upper West Side-centered real estate search in earnest. Strapped for space, Ms. Sankovitch and Mr. Menz–who were by then sleeping in the living room of their apartment at 81st Street and Broadway–began looking in upper Westchester and Connecticut. “We really just wanted to stay in New York City,” said Ms. Sankovitch. “We love the school my 5-year-old is in, P.S. 9. And my husband works full-time, and I work part-time, and we didn’t want to spend any time commuting.” One Sunday in December, Ms. Sankovitch’s sister called to tell her that the perfect house had been advertised in The New York Times . The couple lost no time: They went to see the house on West 78th Street, near West End Avenue, the next day, returned with an engineer the day after that, and finally, made an offer. It was accepted. Ms. Sankovitch admits that the house, which was passed down through the same family for nearly 100 years and finally sold by an elderly widow, needs a total renovation. But the treasure they found in the back yard was priceless. “There was an old trunk in a shed in the back yard,” she said, “and it’s just packed with letters in little one-inch stacks, tied with ribbon … letters dating from the late 1800’s, and up to 1912. Mainly from a mother to her children. They are all so touching.” Does it say if she ever had to give up her bed and sleep in the living room? Broker: Orsid Realty (Olga Fisher); Corcoran Group (Liane Miller).
321 West 55th Street
Two-bed, one-bath, 1,000-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $385,000. Selling: $370,000.
Charges: $928; 60 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three months.
MUCH ADO ABOUT MOVING. “I used to play stickball in front of this building,” said broker Michael Pangalos, who was raised a few doors down from this co-op situated between Eighth and Ninth avenues. “Back then, there was a newsstand where you could get an egg cream and a pretzel, and read a comic book.” The newsstand is now a grocery, but the character of the quiet, residential block remains mostly intact. Mr. Pangalos said the single man who owned this apartment had mixed feelings about selling. Initially, he put it on the market last June for $460,000; six weeks later, he changed his mind. In September, the seller tested the waters again, this time at $385,000. A buyer signed a contract to buy the apartment for $370,000 in November; the deal was finalized in February. The single man will continue to live in the building. So what was all the fuss about? Broker: Corcoran Group (Michael Pangalos).
35 Bethune Street (Pickwick House)
Four-bed, 2.5-bath, 1,650-square-foot prewar loft condo.
Asking: $850,000. Selling: $830,000.
Charges: $948. Taxes: $526.
Time on the market: two weeks.
FOUR OXFORD-BOUND TOTS RULE WELL-READ TRIPLEX. It all boils down to a good education. An English family, who shipped into town at the beginning of 1998 and rented a two-bedroom apartment in midtown, was looking for more permanent shelter near one of the city’s more desirable public schools. The family’s broker, Mitchell Speer, showed them a number of properties downtown and in the Flower District, all of which were not in school districts deserving of the three kids–and the fourth on its way. A triplex in an 1883 building–with an Anglo name like Pickwick House, no less–which had been a publishing house in its previous incarnation, made the grade. Never mind that the bedrooms are on the claustrophobic side: When the family gets cabin fever, they can repair to the weekend house they keep in the Berkshires. Broker: William B. May (Mitchell Speer).