PASSED DOWN FROM McGUIRE SISTER VIA PIA ZADORA’S $13 MILLION MAKEOVER In April, Roberto Mendoza Jr., 54, stepped down as vice chairman of J.P. Morgan & Company Inc. to become chairman of British Internet bank Egg PLC. A month later, he was named a managing director in Goldman Sachs’ London office.
In May, the bidding on Mr. Mendoza’s house at 17 East 75th Street, between Madison and Fifth avenues–which he bought from the executive of an offshore corporation two years ago for $5.09 million–exceeded his asking price of $9.4 million, according to brokers.
“There were a couple of interested people,” said one broker. The deal is scheduled to close in September.
Some brokers would say that Mr. Mendoza’s bidding war occurred three months ago when the market was “dynamite.” But others say that this property is both superior and unusual enough to be almost always capable of selling for more than expected.
It’s “one of the very few extremely contemporary houses that is appealing,” said one broker. “Most potential house buyers like traditional houses. Most walked in and thought it was too clean, too minimalist.”
The sleek decor (one observer called elements of the house “Hollywood”) is courtesy of Pia Zadora and her husband, financier Meshulam Riklis, who paid Phyllis McGuire, one of the singing McGuire sisters, $4.55 million for the house in 1987. The couple gave the five-story, 1880’s townhouse a $13 million renovation, adding elaborate gold-and-marble bathrooms, a $1 million black marble central staircase designed by architect Peter Marino, a greenhouse, a dressing room, a security system, all new plumbing and wiring and a 10-by-15-foot skylight.
“That staircase was absolutely brilliant and magnificent,” said Corcoran’s townhouse director Anne Snee.
A different broker remembered the bathrooms: “Green and white marble … kind of crazy.”
The 20-foot-wide house has a master suite on the third floor plus four other bedrooms; four bathrooms; two powder rooms; a state of the art music and video system, which includes a large-screen, hidden TV; an oversize kitchen equipped to professional standards; a 40-foot-long living room with a wood-burning fireplace; and a landscaped garden. Annual real estate taxes are $44,000.
But the actress and her husband never moved into the trophy house. And in 1995, they sold the place to the offshore executive for $4.7 million–making just $150,000 in eight years.
Mr. Mendoza, on the other hand, almost doubled his investment in two years. In the meantime, he “toned it down. It looks really, really, really beautiful,” added the broker.
And the market went nuts.
“It’s a hell of a price,” Ms. Snee said about Mr. Mendoza’s deal. “It went absolutely at the top of the market, as far as I’m concerned. No broker in their right mind would say anything was overpriced.”
WATER MILL, N.Y.
BROOKS AND BANCROFT HAMPTONS HOP Actress Anne Bancroft and her husband, director Mel Brooks, must like moving–or maybe all the nightclubs and day-trippers crowding Southampton just got on their nerves.
Last February, the couple paid W magazine editor Etta Froio $900,000 for a four-bedroom cottage on 1.3 acres at 1421 Meadow Lane in Southampton. But in mid-July, they put the house, which sits on Shinnecock Bay, on the market for $1.9 million with Allan M. Schneider Associates Inc. Around the same time, the couple signed a contract to purchase another four-bedroom house at 1131 Flying Point Road in Water Mill which the paparazzi -friendly socialite couple Alexander and Alexandra von Furstenberg have rented for the past two summers.
One broker called the house “a funky 1970’s beach house.” And, less graciously, “a shack.” The three-quarters-of-an-acre property has no room for a pool, but hey, it is oceanfront.
Andrea Ackerman, a managing partner of Dunemere Associates in Southampton, which represented the seller, wouldn’t comment on the deal. But a broker said that the house, which belonged to Mina Seeman, whose husband was the late artist James Seeman, went for close to the asking price of $2.9 million.
314 East 53rd Street
Four-story, 3,200-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $1.595. Selling: $1.395.
Time on the market: nine months.
THIS HOUSE GAVE HARRY MACKLOWE A CONSCIENCE Four-story clapboard houses of the style of 314 East 53rd Street used to dominate this neighborhood. But just after this house and its neighbor (No. 312, owned by Zarela Martinez, owner of Zarela restaurant) were built in 1866, the city banned wood construction and many of the houses were bulldozed before they could get historical designation to protect them. No. 312 was named a historic landmark back in 1968, but No. 314 (its twin) was not. According to one report, the building’s owner declined the city’s attempt to give it historical status. Therefore, in February, when developer Harry Macklowe’s buy-out of the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 53rd Street led him to sign a contract for this house, the place almost became firewood. Mr. Macklowe had already carved out a 100-square-foot hole to build “luxury” apartments, and he had purchased Nos. 308 and 310 East 53rd Street, which contain rent-controlled apartments. The more he tears down, the more square footage and height the tower can have under city law. But when Landmarks Preservation Commission chairwoman Jennifer Raab pleaded with him not to destroy the historic house, Mr. Macklowe agreed, telling a reporter at the time: “We happily cooperated because it seemed like an appropriate thing to do.” (Tell that to former patrons of Eamonn Doran, the Second Avenue bar that Mr. Macklowe tore down last year.) In March, 314 East 53rd Street went back on the market, and in June it received landmark status. One deal to sell it collapsed with the Nasdaq in April. On Aug. 8, a young woman who works as a stockbroker bought the townhouse, which, in addition to a political history, has six fireplaces and a large, south-facing garden. Soon she ought to be face-to-face with Mr. Macklowe’s handiwork. At least it’s rumored to be designed by Frank Gehry.
UPPER WEST SIDE
RITA JENRETTE TEAMS UP WITH DONALD TRUMP With the Democrats’ fête at the Playboy Mansion canceled and President Clinton about to trade in the White House for Westchester, couldn’t we all use a little old-fashioned sexy politics?
Well, we’ll have to be satisfied with the news that former Washington-sex-scandal-maker Rita Jenrette is moving into a building owned by once-and-surely-future political candidate Donald Trump. Besides having posed in Playboy , like many of Mr. Trump’s favorite people, Ms. Jenrette brokered the sale of the General Motors building on Fifth Avenue for $820 million to Mr. Trump last August. (Ms. Jenrette is now an owner of Garlington Jenrette, a commercial real estate firm).
Ms. Jenrette, 50, bought a 42nd-floor apartment at 200 Riverside Drive on June 5 for $1.09 million. She had been renting an apartment since selling her two-bedroom penthouse at the Grand Millennium, 1965 Broadway between 66th and 67th streets, for $1.9 million last March. Riverside Boulevard is a Trump-only cul-de-sac stretching from West 59th Street to West 72th Street just east of the Henry Hudson Parkway. No. 200, a Philip Johnson building, opened early last year at the same time as 100 Riverside Boulevard, a rental building; a third building is underway. Ms. Jenrette signed a contract in late May. Real estate taxes are $4,340.
Ms. Jenrette’s new 1,326-square-foot apartment features two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and northeast exposures. Linda Bocchini and John Kane, sales directors for the on-site sales office, brokered the deal, selling the apartment for the asking price.
244 West 138th Street
Four-story, 5,000-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $500,000. Selling: $475,000.
Time on the market: two days.
JOSEPHINE BAKER COULDN’T SLEEP HERE The 78-year-old seller of this four-story townhouse on Strivers Row tells a story about Josephine Baker once renting an apartment here from his grandmother. When Ms. Baker introduced her girlfriend as “my husband,” the story goes, the enterprising grandma (she owned several houses on this block) kicked them out. Lucky for the buyers, a lesbian couple, the grandson does not have the same hang-ups. The couple had been renting a floor and a half in
a brownstone in the West Village. They were into the eighth month of their search for a house in Harlem when broker La Vera Smith showed them this one. “I said, ‘I’ll sign anything,'” said one of the buyers, a lawyer. “I did everything I would never let a client do. But I knew the price was really good.” The house has original wainscoting, seven gas fireplaces and original-grain painted oak columns. The buyers plan to spend about $300,000 in renovations. After redoing all the plumbing and repocketing several doors, they will turn the top three floors into a two-bedroom apartment where they will live; the bottom floor will be a two-bedroom apartment that they’ll put up for rent.
UPPER EAST SIDE
180 East 79th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,300-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $995,000. Selling: $975,000.
Charges: $1,747; 45 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
TALES OF THE ‘TERRIBLY HAPPY,’ SINGLE CO-OP OWNER The real estate market in New York isn’t doing too badly when a one-bedroom apartment with a maid’s room (one of the smallest apartments in this Tishman Speyer building) sells for just under $1 million. Especially when the place still needs some work. But for now, the young single guy who bought the pricey pad has almost blown his wad. “It was a little above what he was planning,” admitted his broker, Pierrette Hogan of Prudential MLB Kaye International Realty. But, she said, “he is terribly happy.” The prewar building doesn’t have a gym or a garage, but the co-op did just install a high-speed Internet connection. This apartment, on the 18th floor of the 20-story building, has a 30-foot-long sunken living room, separate dining room and two walk-in closets in the master bedroom. As for renovations, the buyer will start with the kitchen and the bathrooms.
121 West 20th Street
Asking: $799,000. Selling: $750,000.
One-bed, Two-bath, 1,642-square-foot condo.
Charges: $432.63. Taxes: $422.81
Time on the market: two weeks.
ON THE ONE HAND, the “motivated” couple who sold this duplex loft in Chelsea accepted the first offer they got–even though it was $49,000 less than what they were asking. On the other hand, the young couple who bought it waived the clause in the standard real estate sales contract which states that the sale is contingent on them getting a mortgage. (They did, however, possess a letter pre-approving them for a loan.) “By waiving the contingency, they made the sellers feel more comfortable that the deal would go through,” said Mark Mahler of D.G. Neary Realty, who sold the apartment. “And that made the sellers more negotiable.” The other thing motivating the sellers was the fact that they had already bought a larger apartment in another neighborhood. The Chelsea duplex has a working fireplace, a dining area, and a large bathroom with a Jacuzzi off the master bedroom.