Marty Richards Plots His Apartment Swap, Collects $17 Million

AFTER PLEDGING $6 MILLION TO TRUMP, HE FINDS BUYER WHO’LL SIT TIGHT Not only does Donald Trump have the general animosity of the Turtle Bay community to motivate him to hurry up and erect the city’s tallest residential skyscraper, the 90-story Trump World Tower. Now, he also has some peer pressure.

In the last week of June, sources say, producer Marty Richards–who has reserved two apartments on the 72nd floor in the new Trump condominium for about $6 million–signed a $17 million contract to sell his 16-room maisonette at the River House, an exclusive co-op at 435 East 52nd Street, where the street dead-ends east of First Avenue.

Two brokers with knowledge of the deal said the buyer, an executive at Smithfield Foods Inc., will have to wait until September to meet the building’s board, which does not generally conduct any business during the summer. But that should be no problem, since the deal stipulates that Mr. Richards will be allowed to occupy the apartment until next spring–the deadline he has given Mr. Trump to finish his new home.

In the meantime, Mr. Richards (who is reportedly organizing a Broadway production of Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway ) will collect a down payment for his co-op, with its marble entrance hall and view of the gardens in the rear of the 1931 building.

Until recently, River House was the longtime home of Libbet Johnson, an heir of the Johnson & Johnson family (and a cousin of Mr. Richards’ late wife, Mary Richards). Ms. Johnson first moved out in order to renovate her River House pad. She telephoned Mr. Trump to ask if she could rent a place in his then new building, the International Hotel & Towers at 1 Central Park West. Instead of returning to the east side, she bought $50 million worth of real estate there and sold her co-op at the River House for $12 million.

After cutting his own deal with Mr. Trump earlier this year, Mr. Richards put his four-bedroom, 7 1/2-bath apartment on the market for $17.5 million on March 27; he was represented by Kathy Sloane, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens. Calls to his office were returned by Gail Miranda-Schmidt of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. She confirmed that a contract had been signed.

Mr. Trump told The Observer that the apartments at World Tower were designed to make buying more than one unit more attractive. The border between Mr. Richards’ two apartments is two living rooms, which when combined will become one huge living space. The apartment will have ceilings between 12 and 16 feet. The sheer glass building does not have any terraces, but the roof will be open to all tenants.

Mr. Trump takes Mr. Richards’ challenge seriously. “We’ll top out next week,” he told The Observer on July 11. Estimates of the real move-in date range from February to April of next year. Some good news for Mr. Richards and another Trump World Tower buyer, Bill Gates.

RAOUL FELDER FLEES: TAKE MY HOUSE, PLEASE! (IF YOU CAN FIND IT.) Three years ago, divorce lawyer Raoul Felder climbed into a limousine headed for East Hampton with a friend, comedian Jackie Mason. They were on their way to one of Mr. Mason’s gigs, but planned to stop by the beach house Mr. Felder bought in 1980 on Three Mile Harbor Road. As the car turned onto his block, however, Mr. Felder found himself telling the driver to circle back over and over again. He couldn’t find the place.

“We gave up,” he said, adding that he hadn’t been there for five years and that the house must have been buried in overgrown weeds.

Mr. Felder, 66, headed back to the city and hasn’t been to East Hampton since. “East Hampton is fine,” he said, “if you could move it 60 miles closer to the city.” He said he prefers to sunbathe on one of the four terraces of his Sutton Place penthouse, where he is not apt to run into one of his clients–say, Patricia Duff or Luciana Morad, the mother of Mick Jagger’s youngest child.

Even so, Mr. Felder wouldn’t rent the house. He said he didn’t need the money and that the thought of a stranger sleeping in his bed was too unappealing for him to consider: “Thank God I don’t have to sleep in a bed someone [else] slept in.”

A few years ago, Mr. Felder started getting calls from people interested in buying the three-bedroom house with a pool on .61 acres, which he describes as “like a skiing chalet,” as well as the empty lot he owns next door. In late May, he sold the house for $293,000 to Mary Hatten, a professor of neurobiology at Rockefeller University, and in July, he signed a deal to sell the lot separately. Ms. Hatten was out of the country and unavailable to comment.

“If I want water, I’ll take a bath,” said Mr. Felder about unloading the house by the sea. On the other hand, he may consider buying a condo in a Hampton closer to the city, where he wouldn’t be expected to take on a pool boy or, God forbid, a gardener.

WEST VILLAGE

GLENN CLOSE GETS CLOSER: ACTRESS TAKES CHARLES ST. DUPLEX Call it a fatal attraction. On April 29, actress Glenn Close purchased a 1,450-square-foot duplex at the Memphis Downtown, a 22-story condominium at 140 Charles Street, near Washington Street. According to sources, the apartment, for which Ms. Close paid $899,000, will essentially be a pied à terre .

“Maybe she missed the Village,” said one broker. In the 80’s, Ms. Close lived in a townhouse in Chelsea with her second husband, John Marlas, then in a two-bedroom penthouse in Greenwich Village. In 1988, while pregnant with her daughter Annie, she rented a house in Greenwich, Conn., the town where she was born and raised. Now she owns a home in Bedford Hills, N.Y. Ms. Close could not be reached for comment.

According to brokers, her new apartment needs work, but no renovations have been made yet. “I am really shocked she bought it,” said one broker who had been called in to price the apartment. “It’s a postwar building, nothing special.”

On the other hand, it was stylish enough for fashion designer Michael Kors, a former resident.

Said Merle Barash, who owns her own real estate firm and has sold numerous apartments in the building: “Every apartment has a curved balcony… and every apartment is a corner apartment. The only reason people leave is if they are [leaving town] or can’t buy the apartment next door.”

407 Bleecker Street

Asking: $2.4 million. Selling: $2.3 million.

Four-story, 5,000-square-foot townhouse.

Time on the market: Six months.

MODELS, MILLIONS, MAGNOLIA BAKERY Here’s proof that models and money are all that’s left in the West Village. A young couple with kids had turned this 21-foot- wide, four-story townhouse into two three-bedroom apartments. “It was refurbished meticulously,” said Douglas Elliman broker Nancy Weaver. “It wasn’t decrepit.” One block north of Magnolia Bakery (and across the street from Abbington Square), the red-brick home eventually led to a bidding war between three potential buyers. A fashion editor and an investment banker took it, deciding to restore the townhouse to a single-family home, but without a total gut renovation–a careful ploy designed to discourage at-home photo shoots.

UPPER WEST SIDE

91 Central Park West

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,300-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $999,000. Selling: $1.125 million.

Charges: $1,194; 50 percent tax deductible.

Time on the market: One week.

A TALE OF THE TAPE MEASURE Two apartments in this 93-unit Central Park West building–nearly identical in size and both in the back of the building–were on the market at the same time and through the same broker (Brian Rice of the Corcoran Group) earlier this year. This one, a ninth- floor pad, has a “peripheral” view of the park, the original moldings, a decorative fireplace and a recent redecoration. The other one is simply on a higher floor, the 15th–typically a major selling point. But in April, when both apartments sold, the ninth-floor apartment sold to a woman in her 50’s for $265,000 more than the apartment upstairs, bought by a young professional couple. The seller of the ninth-floor unit is buying another apartment in the building.

UPPER EAST SIDE

350 East 72nd Street

Four-bed, 3 1/2-bath, 2,750-square-foot condo.

Asking: $2.5 million. Selling: $2.4 million.

Charges: $2,600. Taxes: $1,700.

Time on the market: Four months.

THE PRICE OF PROCREATION Twins quashed a couple’s plan to continue on in this 19th-floor apartment with two balconies, a library and a gourmet kitchen, which they bought about five years ago. Almost immediately after their family of four became a family of six, they put the apartment on the market and began looking for something with an additional bedroom (five!) in the same neighborhood. Another young couple–without twins–hope they won’t outgrow the 2,750-square-foot condo as fast. The building, which went up in 1987, has a doorman, a concierge, and just one apartment per floor.

SUTTON PLACE

BEEKMAN SAVES OLD SCHOOLHOUSE, PLANS 19-STORY LUXURY CONDO The old P.S. 35, at the top of Beekman Hill at 931 First Avenue, faced demolition for nearly 20 years, but neighbors stubbornly clung to the notion the turn-of-the-century schoolhouse should be preserved.

Finally, after a last-minute close call with the city, the facade of the building has been saved. And, like virtually everything else in Manhattan, the structure will be converted to luxury condominiums.

Dennis Herman of Beekman International, the development company that owns the building, will construct the Beekman Regent, a 19-story luxury residential complex that will rise out of the base of the old schoolhouse.

All that’s left of the Romanesque revival building, designed by George W. Debevoise in 1892 and believed to be styled after the now-landmarked Dakota on West 72nd Street and Central Park West, are two external walls of yellow brick with brownstone trim that form the northwest corner of First Avenue and 51st Street. The new construction, designed by architect Costas Kondylis, “will incorporate the essence of the [existing] facade,” said Beekman International project manager Lori Levine.

The complex will contain approximately 64 apartments, from one to five bedrooms, a street-level garage and a health club. It should be completed by the end of next summer, said Ms. Levine. She said price estimates for the apartments weren’t available yet.

Preservation of the site followed a long battle by the Coalition to Save 931 First Avenue, which grew out of the concerns of Community Board 6 and the Sutton Area Community group, as well as other neighborhood civic organizations. The final plan was announced at the June 14 meeting of Board 6.

Mr. Herman bought 931 First Avenue last year from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, under a contract stipulating preservation of the facade. The building had served as P.S. 35, then P.S. 135, the United Nations School and a city-run women’s shelter. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places because American Revolution hero Nathan Hale was captured and held there during the war, but it has not been designated a New York City landmark. That left it vulnerable to demolition.

Under the Koch administration, the city was prepared to sell it without restrictions, but the Coalition to Save 931 First Avenue convinced city officials to include a preservation clause in its offering. The building sold at auction in 1983 for $12.3 million, then the second-highest amount ever paid for a city property. However, developer Philips International could not work out its financing plan with the city, and the property went back on the auction block. Twice more it was auctioned off and development plans collapsed.

Then Mr. Herman came into the picture, and Richard Eyen, chairman of the coalition, witnessed something he hasn’t often seen in his 25 years of community involvement: the city, community and developer all in agreement. “For one of the rare times in the City of New York, we’re all on the same side,” he said.

Despite the solidarity, the development plan was threatened by a regulatory snafu last month, when the city’s buildings department classified the development of the gutted building as new construction. And local zoning for new construction would require half the first floor to be glass, trouncing the preservation efforts.

Community Board 6, the Coalition and City Council Member Gifford Miller urged the city agencies to work out the kink, which they promptly did. So the old schoolhouse gets to keep its old New York face as it metamorphoses into brand-new, prime residential real estate. With only a little extra glass.

-Karina Lahni