If telecommunications innovator Gary Winnick is looking for someone to blame for the rebuff he received on Jan. 4 from the board of 810 Fifth Avenue, maybe he should hold a grudge against The New York Times .
Two months ago, Mr. Winnick, the chairman of a Beverly Hills-based cable conglomerate known as Global Crossing Ltd., made a $16 million deal to purchase the former apartment of Nelson A. Rockefeller-a duplex penthouse on the 13th and 14th floors of the B-list co-op. But fresh from their New Year’s vacations, the members of the co-op board voted not to accept Mr. Winnick as a neighbor, according to sources, because they didn’t want to endure a lengthy and noisy renovation of the 17-room apartment-an inevitability, according to an October article in The Times stating that the place needed “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in improvements.
There have been some reports that Mr. Winnick might have been considered an unacceptable applicant, even though his wealth has been pegged by Forbes magazine at $3.2 billion. One source with knowledge of the screening process said that the executive’s purchase application included letters of recommendation from none other than David Rockefeller Sr., Nelson’s brother, and former California governor Pete Wilson, now an officer in Pacific Capital Group, a merchant bank of which Mr. Winnick is chief executive. Mr. Rockefeller was traveling out of the country, and his assistant, Peter Johnson, could not confirm that his boss had given a personal reference for Mr. Winnick. “They’ve met each other a couple of times, and certainly know each other, but I don’t know if it would extend that far.” Mr. Wilson did not return a call for comment.
But the co-op board’s four members-art patron Maureen Cogan; Elizabeth Rohatyn, the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to France, Felix Rohatyn; socialite Jan Cowles; and the board’s president, Eric Sheinberg, a former partner of Goldman Sachs & Company-were quite up front about their reasoning, said a source.
“What Gary has been led to believe is that the big issue was that he was proposing to completely renovate,” said the source, “and that was something they didn’t want to agree to, given the potential disruption.
“[But] Gary made it known that he wasn’t going to do the deal if he couldn’t do the remodeling.” In fact, he had already appointed architect Charles Gwathmey to the job.
According to brokers who have seen the six-bedroom apartment, which was inherited by Mary Tod Rockefeller when she and Nelson Rockefeller divorced in 1962, the views are still unparalleled, but the apartment has significantly faded since its heyday, the rooms are small or have been carved up, and the two floors do not fit together very well.
Some of the building’s residents, who were disappointed by the board’s decision and felt they weren’t properly consulted, might dispute the rejection, said another source. But that would be almost unprecedented. Still, any other buyer is apt to do a total renovation, too.
No. 810 consists of just 12 units: a ground-level maisonette, 10 floor-through units and the penthouse. Dwayne Andreas, the retired chief executive of grain processor Archer Daniels Midland Company, owns one. Mr. Sheinberg could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gwathmey, who designed Mr. Winnick’s current apartment in the Sherry Netherland Hotel, 781 Fifth Avenue at 59th Street, where the bicoastal businessman lives with his wife and three children when he is in New York, will have to throw out his blueprints. Mr. Winnick will have to resume his property search. And the Rockefellers might have to rethink the pricing of their penthouse, originally set at $19.5 million last October, in light of the co-op board’s view.
UPPER WEST SIDE
305 West 98th Street (Schuyler Arms)
Two-bed, one-bath, 1,050-square-foot prewar co-op.
Asking: $475,000. Selling: $475,000.
Charges: $974; 46 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: one day.
COUPLE GETS SOME OF THE OLD MAN’S MONEY The Schuyler Arms was built in 1902 and gutted and renovated in the early 1980’s. This apartment, on the top floor of the building, caused quite a frenzy among shoppers. At an open house, a Venezuelan man approached the broker and in broken English told her that he would be buying the apartment for himself and his wife-she’s a TV producer, he’s a composer who teaches at the Juilliard School. Yeah, sure, O.K., whatever. Then came his all-cash offer in the amount of the full asking price, thanks to his father, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman. The couple had been living in a one-bedroom apartment on West 79th Street, near Columbus Avenue, which they plan to keep (it will be used as his studio). They wanted to stay in the same neighborhood, and this was the first apartment in their price range that had a lot of light and open views. In a few months they should be able to move in and, they hope, start a family. First, though, they’re enlarging the kitchen, exposing the brick here and there, and maybe even adding a bathroom. Thank you, Daddy! Broker: Corcoran Group (Debbie Isaacs).
UPPER EAST SIDE
200 East 89th Street (Monarch)
One-bed, one-bath, 650-square-foot condo.
Asking: $315,000. Selling: $310,000.
Charges: $456. Taxes: $300.
Time on the market: eight weeks.
TRACK LIGHTING: APHRODISIAC OR WARNING SIGN? One more bachelor has been taken off the market-and now his apartment has been, too. A formerly single guy has owned his sunny 15th-floor apartment since the building went up in 1987. Now that he’s engaged, it’s time for a bigger home. Enter a very eligible analyst on Wall Street with an M.B.A. who, we hear, is fairly easy on the eyes. This is his ticket out of mom and dad’s place. If you’re thinking he paid quite a lot for a smallish one-bedroom, well, he did. But don’t miss the wraparound terrace that faces west and east; the wall-to-wall carpeting; the marble bathroom; the built-in entertainment center with a wine rack (don’t ask!); even a built-in bed and desk in the bedroom; and track lighting. (Hint: Keep ‘em dim, you big romantic.) Look out, ladies! Broker: Douglas Elliman (Heidi Berger).
15 East 69th Street
Two-bed, 2.5-bath, 2,476-square-foot condo.
Asking: $2.5 million. Selling: $2.5 million.
Charges: $1,904. Taxes: $1,700.
Time on the market: two months.
YOU CAN EVEN CALL THE GUY IN THE LOBBY JEEVES This fifth-floor apartment is located in the former Westbury Hotel, which was recently converted into condominiums. The buyers, a dermatologist and her urologist husband, are among the first residents of the building, with its concierge, doorman, elevator operator, gym and wine cellar. On the ground floor are a few of the city’s finest retail stores, such as Cartier, Mont Blanc and Alfred Dunhill. The buyers had been commuting from the suburbs for quite some time and felt ready to return to the city. Although initially they planned to rent-in order to be absolutely certain that they wanted to be here-their broker took them over to this place, and they had to have it. They made an offer the following day. The apartment has skyline views, a library, a dining room, marble baths, herringbone floors and a kitchen equipped with appliances from General Electric’s Monogram line. There are also 10 phone lines, in case the cell phones are out of order. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Carol Staab).
142 East 16th Street (Gramercy Spire)
Four-bed, three-bath, 2,600-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $1.495 million. Selling: $1.345 million.
Charges: $3,233. 55 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: four weeks.
I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S NOT A LOFT Well, it’s not. It’s a penthouse, between Third Avenue and Irving Place that just costs like a loft. The sellers decided there was such a thing as having too many homes, right after they discovered a thing called retiring early. Now they’re based in Miami and Fire Island, and a couple of Web surfers have taken their place on East 16th Street. The couple clicked on this 21st-floor apartment and discovered that it had a formal dining room, central air-conditioning, a wood-burning fireplace and a 1,600-square-foot wraparound terrace that can be accessed from every room in the apartment. They’d wanted to tour nothing but lofts but went to see this apartment and submitted an offer the same day. Unlike most loft buildings, this one is equipped with its own parking garage and a full-time doorman. Broker: Corcoran Group (Robert Manzari, Bonnie McCartney).
29 King Street
One-bed, one-bath, 1,800-square-foot condo.
Asking: $1.35 million. Selling: $1.25 million.
Charges: $662. Taxes: $1,700.
Time on the market: one month.
PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES-OR IS IT SCHOOLHOUSES Did you see Celebrity ? Shot here. Can you say 1,200-square-foot terrace? Open any sliding glass door in this horseshoe-shaped penthouse. There it is-planted, too. Ever want to say you live in a former schoolhouse? This one was converted to condominiums in the early 1980’s. The sellers were true pioneers-here since the beginning. To be the buyer, you just had to be the highest bidder, like the couple who signed a contract three days before Christmas. Broker: Douglas Elliman (Judith Medwin, Wendy Gleason, Christopher Poussaint).
136 Summit Street
Asking: $625,000. Selling: $615,000.
Time on the market: one month.
THE SUMMIT STORY He was born and raised here in Brooklyn. He met his wife at the church across the street. Now he’s in his 70’s, so they’re moving to a smaller place in New Jersey. They’re passing the house on to a graphic designer, a sales executive and their dog. The buyers will rent out two floors and occupy the other two, but not before raising the ceilings and tearing out the wooden beams he installed. Broker: Corcoran Group’s Brooklyn Landmark (Jim Rigney).