Never let it be said that the Cuomos don’t get as good as they give. About a week after their annual drive for the homeless, breakaway shoe designer Kenneth Cole and his wife, Maria Cuomo Cole, spent $11.2 million on a 6,200-square-foot co-op at 927 Fifth Avenue in March.
The civic-minded couple-Mrs. Cole is chairman of Help U.S.A., a charity that fights homelessness and is the beneficiary of Mr. Cole’s annual, month-long offer to give shoppers 20 percent off a pair of his shoes for donating an old pair-signed a contract for the 14-room, five-bedroom, third-floor apartment on March 7. Their spending spree extended through mid-April when Mr. Cole made a deal with Tishman Speyer to lease 20,000 square feet of retail space at 610 Fifth Avenue in Rockefeller Center, where the designer plans to start selling his ever-expanding lines of shoes, handbags and clothing in October. The company, which Mr. Cole started in 1982, is now worth $310 million.
The Coles, who have three children, have not owned an apartment in the city while living at Five Chimneys, a home in Purchase, N.Y., where Mr. Cole also helped found the Golf Club of Purchase. Brokers said that the Coles picked the apartment at 927 Fifth, which has been on and off the market since 1992, most recently for $11.1 million, over a five-story townhouse at 3 East 82nd Street priced at around $7 million.
The apartment is being sold by private investor Laurence Schneider. One broker described the length of time it took the place to sell as “quacky.” The Coles’ broker, Claire Kaufman of Alice F. Mason, and the exclusive broker for Mr. Schneider, Laurance Kaiser IV, president of Key-Ventures Real Estate, wouldn’t comment on the deal.
The Coles submitted their financials and references to the building’s board on May 11. A source told The Observer that although the couple was essentially pre-approved to buy the apartment, and were recommended by the head of the co-op’s board, real estate developer Richard Cohen-who lives on the eighth floor with his wife, Fox News Channel anchor Paula Zahn-there will be a formal interview on June 7.
“Nine-twenty-seven is a tough board,” said a broker, even though the building is not as “fancy” as some neighboring ones.
Years ago, Barbra Streisand was rejected by the board-despite recommendation letters from a former Governor (Nelson Rockefeller) and a former Mayor (John Lindsay). On the other hand, the board of the 13-unit building, near 73rd Street, and built in 1906 by designer McKim, Mead & White, admitted Mary Tyler Moore and her husband, Dr. Robert Levine, in 1987, and more recently, investment banker Bruce Wasserstein-after he was turned down at other addresses. Mr. Wasserstein paid $11.5 million for an apartment on the 10th floor in 1997.
In May, the fourth-floor apartment of Frank Newman, chairman emeritus of Bankers Trust Corp., who got a $100-million severance package when the company was acquired by Deutsche Bank last summer, went on the market for $18 million. Mr. Newman bought the apartment for $9.75 million in April 1998.
UPPER WEST SIDE
600 West 111th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,500-square-foot co-op
Asking: $700,000. Selling: $700,000.
Charges: $1,200; 50 percent tax deductible
Time on the market: two weeks.
THIS IS NOT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT DADDY CAN’T BUY A Columbia University freshman was shopping for a plush apartment, courtesy of his pop, a wealthy Florida eye surgeon. Broker Alan Nickman of Bellmarc Realty had them all set up in one, and the kid was cramming for the Saturday board interview. But on Friday, Mr. Nickman got a call with some bad news. The board had changed its mind, and the interview-and the deal-was off. Another broker helped solve the mystery. “The board president had three Columbia students living on his hall and I guess his experience had not been a positive one,” said Mr. Nickman. After the rejection, which Mr. Nickman called “horrible luck,” he showed the freshman four other apartments. The son narrowed it down to this one, which was still held by the building owner, which means board approval was not necessary. The doc bid on the place without even seeing it. The deal went through in a month.
UPPER EAST SIDE
25 Sutton Place South
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,700-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $795,000. Selling: $795,000.
Charges: $1,250; 48 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: 3.5 months.
MOMMIE NEAREST Don’t mess with a longtime Upper East Sider. An uptown matron approached broker Norma Hirsh, a senior vice president at Douglas Elliman, about this five-room apartment between 55th and 56th streets. There was already someone else bidding on the apartment, but that was settled with one swooping offer of the full asking price. Though the apartment needed a lot of work-all the windows had to be replaced and the kitchen and the bathrooms needed to be “brought up to speed”-the place is right down the street from the hard-dealing woman’s daughter. Mom’s new building- 323 units built in 1959-has a gym, a garage, two doormen, a concierge and a large terrace overlooking the river.
201 East 28th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,100-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $479,000. Selling: $479,000.
Charges: $1,030; 50 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
SHE’LL HAVE THE TWO-BEDROOM APARTMENT A redheaded couple in their early 30’s had outgrown this two-bedroom apartment with an eat-in kitchen and southern views from the living room, so they decided to take their two little girls and two charming cats and move to Westchester, according to their broker, Emma Baron of the Corcoran Group. The buyer, a lawyer in his 40’s who had been living in Washington, D.C., came to the open house and decided to take it on the spot, after only a brief consultation with his wife via cell phone, much to the astonishment of Ms. Baron. “If my husband did that to me, I’d kill him,” she told The Observer . When the lawyer’s wife finally came to take a look, she explained that she and her husband had moved so many times that by now each knows exactly what the other looks for. While Ms. Baron was not convinced, the deal closed on April 10. (The seller’s broker was Eileen Foy, also of the Corcoran Group.)
221 West 13th Street
Four-story, 4,600-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $2.3 million. Selling: $2.45 million.
Time on the market: 3.5 weeks.
BLAME THE TAX MAN When musician and producer Stuart Matthewman, who started scoring full-length movies last year with Twin Falls Idaho , tried to move his family from their downtown loft apartment to this Federal-style townhouse between Seventh and Greenwich avenues, he found himself in a bidding war that he ultimately lost. The seller, a professor at New York University, had been renting the townhouse’s three apartments while spending most of his time in the Hamptons. According to his broker, K. Tiger Koehn of Benjamin James Associates, the professor had put the place on the market because he wanted to get out of the city altogether. Two interested buyers emerged, Mr. Matthewman and a nonprofit agency that wants to turn the building into offices. Mr. Matthewman offered $2.1 million; the nonprofit countered with $2.15 million. Mr. Matthewman countered with $2.275 million; the nonprofit matched that. Eventually both parties were offering $2.45 million. According to Mr. Koehn, by selling to a nonprofit organization, the professor avoided having to pay a transfer tax and saved himself $35,000. Mr. Matthewman would have had to spend up to $1 million gutting the townhouse and turning it into a single-family home; the nonprofit will spend at least $130,000 turning the space into offices.