One of Manhattan’s most sticklerish co-op boards is about to take on a new resident. On Dec. 7, the denizens of 620 Park Avenue, a 14-story brick building near East 65th Street, admitted music executive Michael Koch to their ranks, swapping him for longtime resident Dr. Paul Marks, the soon-to-retire chief executive of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, according to real estate sources, who put the deal at $4.7 million.
Over a year ago, Dr. Marks announced that after 19 years’ service at Sloan-Kettering, one of the most esteemed cancer care centers in the world, he would step down in order to focus on laboratory research. (Dr. Harold Varmus will succeed him on Jan. 1.) His apartment at 620 Park Avenue, which brokers said has been on and off the market in recent years, was at first being shown exclusively by Edward Lee Cave, who heads up a high-end eponymous real estate brokerage. However, real estate sources said Mr. Cave lost Dr. Marks’ business when a potential buyer failed to get the prickly co-op board’s approval last fall.
By the beginning of October, the exclusive sales contract had been reassigned to two firms, Stribling & Associates and Sotheby’s International Real Estate, which had a total of four different brokers showing the property to apartment shoppers.
According to real estate sources, the brokers’ task was not an easy one. “It’s a very tough board,” said one broker familiar with the building. “It’s a very, very old-line, WASPy building. You need money, and you need to belong to the right clubs. Nobody famous would ever get into that building; that’s what it’s all about.” Like a dozen or so other top Park Avenue buildings, 620 Park’s co-op board demands that apartments be purchased with at least 50 percent cash.
And Mr. Koch, the president of the Long Island-based Koch International L.P., was not necessarily a shoo-in. More than one real estate wag expressed surprise that the Austrian-born music mogul, whose prior addresses included Brooklyn Heights and City Spire, a midtown condo that one broker described as “dumpy,” was able to pass muster. Still, with his acceptance earlier this month, Mr. Koch appears poised to move in.
A broker familiar with Dr. Marks’ situation said that the 73-year-old medical administrator and his wife will now split their time between a house in Oxbury, Conn., and a pied-à-terre they recently purchased at 825 Fifth Avenue, a co-op building near 63rd Street.
Dr. Marks’ 620 Park Avenue abode, which occupies the building’s whole 12th floor, went on the market in April at an asking price of $4.7 million. The 4,000-square-foot space, which originally had 12 rooms, has since been renovated into eight larger ones. There are four bedrooms, three baths, a large living room and dining room, plus four different exposures. There’s also a temperature-controlled wine closet.
“It’s a contemporary renovation, a family apartment turned into a couple’s apartment,” said a broker who had toured the space, adding that the master suite-which contains his-and-hers bathrooms-was particularly large. “[It's] kind of a 70’s renovation. Somebody’s gonna have to spend a lot of money.”
That will be Mr. Koch, who owns the largest independent music distributor in the United States and works with artists including folk singer Ani DiFranco on his client roster. He will be leaving a five-and-a-half-room condo at the City Spire, located at 150 West 56th Street, which he bought in 1994 for $932,000.
In Wake of 90210 Cameo,
Duncan Sheik Lands a Loft
He was once proclaimed a “music love god” by Mademoiselle . He was educated at Andover and has a semiotics degree from Brown University. His two albums, 1996’s self-titled debut and 1998’s Humming , are moody and introspective, and made him a darling of indie rock critics. The buzz landed him a spot on the ER soundtrack and a guest appearance on Beverly Hills, 90210 . Now Duncan Sheik has bought an apartment at 195 Hudson Street, a hip, new TriBeCa building.
Mr. Sheik, who was previously renting a place in SoHo, looked around the city quite a bit before finding the right place to call home. He found a newly converted loft in a former printing factory built in 1929, for which he paid $850,500 in cash. The building’s 28 apartments have been available for about 18 months, but now only three are left. Like all the other new owners, Mr. Sheik bought his third-floor space “raw” so he can design his loft exactly as he wants. He’s starting out with an open concrete space except for a kitchen and bathroom. The loft also has 12-foot-high ceilings and a wood-burning fireplace, as do most of the units. (The penthouses, however, have 20-foot-high ceilings.) The factory-style windows are nine feet high and have a steel-frame exterior. Mr. Sheik plans to build a recording studio in his home; with the 2,400 square feet he’s got, perhaps he can build two.
Each buyer also gets a space in the building’s parking garage, which is for residential use only. There’s a full-time doorman in the still-being-renovated lobby, and a common roof garden is being developed. The building has a gorgeous brick facade and is eight stories high. Two floors were added for penthouse units, each priced at $3.8 million, with 4,000 square feet inside and 2,000-square-foot terraces. The building has attracted architects, graphic designers, families keen on the good school district, and now a musician. Broker: Sinvin Realty (Bruce Sinder); Corcoran (Pat Dugan).
UPPER EAST SIDE
425 East 79th Street
Three-bed, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot co-op
Asking: $635,000. Selling: $637,500
Charges: $1,493; 50 percent tax-deductible
Time on the market: four months.
FEAR OF WALLPAPER No matter that the place needed a lot of work. The buyers, who had sold a smaller apartment in the same area, knew a good deal when they saw one. They wanted to stay in this neighborhood, in part because of its well-regarded school district (they have two young children), and they refused to schedule endless apartment-hunting trips. So they went into a bidding war and emerged triumphant. Now the real work begins. The sellers had lived in the apartment for 35 years, raising a family there. So it’s time for some major updating, including a new kitchen, new bathrooms and refinished floors. But first, take down the wallpaper! Broker: Douglas Elliman (Kerry Martin); Corcoran (Marina Chimerine).
126 East 70th Street
Four-story town house
Asking: $6.75 million. Selling: $6.4 million
Time on the market: two months.
WALL STREETER SAYS, ‘I’LL TAKE TWO’ A Wall Street guy and his wife had been renting in the neighborhood when they became enamored of this neo-Georgian house between Park and Lexington avenues. “It was everything that they wanted,” said broker Joanne Greene. It has a 30-foot-long kitchen that opens onto a patio and state-of-the-art interior renovations that make the 1860’s building less formal than others they’d seen. The property, which last sold in 1994 for $2.1 million through the estate of a family that had lived there for three generations, contains three bedrooms, several maids’ rooms, a library and a family room-seemingly perfect for a 30-ish couple with deep pockets and a small child. There was just one hitch: that four-bedroom condo that the couple had already signed a contract to buy. But with a Christmas bonus lurking right around the corner, this trader decided to buy the house, too, and resell the apartment in January. For a profit, of course. Broker: Leslie J. Garfield & Company; William B. May Real Estate (Joanne Greene).
328 East 69th Street
Four-story town house
Asking: $2.75 million. Selling: $2.4 million
Time on the market: three weeks.