A New York businessman has agreed to pay $14 million for the ultimate piece of Manhattan memorabilia: the longtime home of worrywart filmmaker Woody Allen.
The 4,000-square-foot, duplex penthouse at 930 Fifth Avenue near 74th Street had been on the market for $15 million for about a month when Mr. Allen accepted the businessman’s offer in early August. Sources said Mr. Allen, who spent the summer shopping for a new home, is in negotiations for a five-story, double-width town house on East 92nd Street near Madison Avenue. His offer of $17.7 million would put him just $4 million in the hole.
As The Observer reported last month, the 63-year-old Mr. Allen decided to sell his onetime bachelor pad when he realized that the one-bedroom space was inadequate for his young wife, 28-year-old Soon-Yi Previn, and new baby, Bechet Dumaine Allen. Brokers familiar with Mr. Allen’s search said that even before he put his apartment on the market in the second week of July, the director had been scouting the Upper East Side’s town house blocks. In addition to the house on East 92nd Street, they said, Mr. Allen considered buying a five-story town house at 11 East 69th Street near Fifth Avenue–asking price $11.25 million–as well as several others in Carnegie Hill.
When Mr. Allen began showing his Fifth Avenue apartment, he generated immediate interest in the high-end buyers’ market. “When there’s a unique property like Woody Allen’s, there’s either that right person who’s been waiting for it or you have to sit and wait for them to enter the market,” said one broker familiar with the space. “And in this case, the right person was there.”
In mid-July, television journalist Diane Sawyer and fashion designer Donna Karan, both notoriously frustrated home buyers, looked at it. However, the buyer–who nicked only $1 million off the tremendously high $15 million asking price–is a businessman with friends in the building, according to real estate sources.
The house on 92nd Street, a pristine uptown block flanked by restaurants on the Madison Avenue side and Park Avenue co-op buildings to the east, should be more than adequate for a family of three. The enormous limestone dwelling, which measures 40 feet wide and more than 70 feet deep, belongs to George McFadden, a general partner at the McFadden Brothers investment firm, and his wife, Carol McFadden, who purchased it for $5.5 million in 1996. Previously, the 1929 building was used as a maternity clinic. According to sources familiar with the property, the couple put millions into fixing it up; one broker described it as being “to die for.” Post-renovation, the broker said, the East 92nd Street house made the Vanderbilt-Fabbri mansion, a Beaux-Arts masterpiece at 11 East 62nd Street, “look like a piece of garbage.”
The house’s immediate vicinity is populated by some of New York’s power elite. Sony America’s chief executive, Howard Stringer, Representative Carolyn Maloney, culinary-shop mogul Eli Zabar and fashion designer Carolina Herrera all live nearby. In the last year, some in the neighborhood have been using their influence to battle a proposed addition to the Citibank branch at the northeast corner of 91st Street and Madison Avenue, just south of the home Mr. Allen is negotiating to buy. In February, the bank sold its air rights for $6 million to the Tamarkin Company, which intends to add at least 12 stories of apartments–a plan that many neighborhood homeowners perceive as an encroachment on both their residential environment and their views.
“This is a real neighborhood,” said Jane Parshall, co-chair of the Citi Neighbors Coalition of Historic Carnegie Hill, a group formed this year to address the proposed additions. “You walk your dog and you know everyone.… It’s just a question of esthetics and personal charm.” Ms. Parshall said the added stories would probably cast shadows on the gardens behind both the McFadden house and the Dalton School, located on the north side of East 91st Street.
A spokesman for Tamarkin, which is developing the apartment building, said the project is still in its planning phases. The total number of stories, the spokesman said, would not be resolved until the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which oversees developments in the city’s historic districts, approves the architect’s plans. The plans have not been submitted yet.
The McFaddens’ decision to put their home on the market last March prompted speculation that the couple was displeased with the development, which would rise behind them. However, Ms. McFadden told The Observer earlier this summer that the bank additions would not obscure her garden and attributed the sale to her family’s desire to downsize. Still, she said, “It’s scandalous in the extreme to slap up a high-scale building in a historic district.” The McFaddens could not be reached for comment regarding Mr. Allen’s offer.
A contract to purchase the 92nd Street property–estimated by a source close to the situation at $17.7 million–was issued to the filmmaker in the first week of July. Real estate sources said Mr. Allen has not yet signed off on the deal, and it is unclear whether the Citibank additions will play a role in his decision. As for the McFaddens, real estate sources said the family is considering several different properties, including a duplex co-op at 1185 Fifth Avenue that’s on the market for just less than $9 million and a triplex condo at 52 East 72nd Street, priced at just less than $7 million.
Upper East Side
Five-story town house.
Asking: $6.75 million. Selling: $6.6 million.
Time on the market: one month.
A 13-YEAR DIVIDEND: $5.2 MILLION IN CASH. In the 13 years that an executive in the commercial printing industry has owned this house, it has nearly quintupled in value; the printer purchased it in 1986 for $1.425 million and sold it this summer for $6.6 million. Partly, that has to do with the sweeping renovation he gave the turn-of-the-century house a few years ago. The great condition of the five-story house attracted three different parties, and there were two rounds of bidding before the seller accepted
the highest offer–made in cash. The new owners, who are moving with their three young kids from a smaller house also in Carnegie Hill, initially offered only $6.5 million, but quickly stepped up their price when the competition got serious. Broker: Leslie J. Garfield & Company (Jed Garfield).
165 East 72nd Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,400-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $535,000. Selling: $525,000.
Charges: $1,356; 43 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two weeks.
BABY’S GOT A BRAND-NEW BEDROOM. When the owners of this two-bedroom apartment at 165 East 72nd Street dropped their asking price from $575,000 to $535,000, the phone started ringing off the hook. The couple, expecting its second baby, had outgrown the apartment, between Lexington and Third avenues, and had already bought a more spacious apartment on East 79th Street. Several parties came forward with offers, but, in the end, the place went to a young couple with a fat bank account. The new owners liked the renovations that had been made to the apartment, but they won’t resist fixing up a bathroom or two. Broker: Corcoran Group (Fern Budow); Halstead Property Company (Eloise Johnson).
Upper West Side
11 West 69th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,000-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $435,000. Selling: $415,000.
Charges: $1,191; 45 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: 10 weeks.
SELLING THEMSELVES SHORT FOR TRUMP. En route to their new Donald Trump apartment at 200 Riverside Boulevard, a couple was hoping to snag a cool $475,000 for their old place near Central Park West. But the apartment–a 1,000-square-foot co-op with two bedrooms and two baths at 11 West 69th Street–only got $415,000. Why? The property’s new owners, a couple getting married in September, plan to do extensive work to the place; they’re considering knocking down walls to alter the layout altogether. Broker: Corcoran Group (Brian Rice and Linda Gorby).
333 West 57th Street (Westmore)
One-bed, one-bath, 850 square-foot prewar cond-op.
Asking: $343,000. Selling: $340,000.
Charges: $798; 50 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two weeks.
THEY’RE EVEN TRADING HIGH ATOP 57TH STREET. A California-born stockbroker had been living with a friend on East 96th Street when he decided that the tenant’s life was for … the bears. Armed with negotiating skills but little knowledge of the market, he approached broker Alan Nickman about finding a decent one-bedroom. The advantages of this co-op between Eighth and Ninth avenues were obvious: Because the developers were the sellers, there was no co-op board interview involved, and the place had been spruced up enough that it needed no work. “You can just hang up your pictures and move in,” Mr. Nickman said. Situated on the top floor, the apartment has the best views in the building, and he feels he got a good deal as well: Two weeks after his purchase became final, a unit exactly the same size on a lower floor sold for $25,000 more. Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Alan Nickman).
116 West 29th Street
One-bed, two-bath, 3,400-square-foot prewar co-op loft.
Asking: $995,000. Selling: $950,000.
Charges: $1,510; 48 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two months.
ANOTHER LOFT LOST. Nestled in the flower district between Sixth and Seventh avenues, this prewar building is zoned for both commercial and residential use and filled with traditional lofts. A culinary photographer has lived in one of the lofts, a 3,400-square-foot space with a 240-square-foot terrace that occupies a full floor, for 14 years. She set up a darkroom and kitchen studio in the back and a bedroom in front. Despite her well-equipped home office, the food portraitist decided to move to the West Coast, provoking what broker Lynne Weinlandt described as a “timing war.” With two different families interested in the spot, it was a matter of who would get a 10 percent down payment into an escrow account first. The winner in this case was a couple with two children. They’ll immediately start erecting walls. Broker: Halstead Property Company (Lynne Weinlandt).