Buyers at the Gate! Jonathan Tisch Wants Your Hamptons House

OUT-OF-THE-BLUE $10M OFFER: IT’S HOW HOUSES SELL TODAY On the day after Thanksgiving in 1992, Michael Sokol, 58, president of Marcorp Sales Inc., a textile company, and his wife, Susan Sokol, president of Pamela Dennis, a fashion company, walked into architect Peter Cook’s Southampton office. They had come to discuss plans for a house they were building on a cornfield the couple had purchased for $412,000 a few months earlier. Two million dollars and a year and a half later, they spent their first summer at the brand-new house, located behind a mechanical gate at the end of a tree-lined driveway at 659 Ocean Road in Bridgehampton.

But a few weeks ago, Jonathan Tisch, 48, the Loews Hotels chief executive and an heir to the $21 billion Tisch family fortune, made a $10 million offer to buy the house. According to brokers, the deal was done in just four days. “You can’t refuse an offer like that,” said one source.

Mr. Sokol wouldn’t divulge the details, but confirmed that he had sold the home to Mr. Tisch. “It was not on the market,” he said. “We were in the conversation stages; we were in the process of talking about” possibly selling the house with brokers. Mr. Sokol added, “We hope the Tisch family finds as much pleasure and happiness and health in the house as we did … That house was built with a lot of love, a lot of care.”

Mr. Sokol said the sale gives him and his wife the opportunity to start all over in the East End. “We’re trying to firm up some offers we have given out,” he said–not for a new home, but for a new plot of land. “I like the building process, the projects, the involvement. I’m looking forward to doing that again.” Mr. Sokol also said that he would spend more time in the Hamptons after his younger son, Jake, goes to college. (His older son, Marc, 33, works for Marcorp.) “We did this because we like the idea of getting involved with another project.” The Sokols also built and sold a house in Remsenberg, just west of Westhampton, in the early 1980’s.

On the Bridgehampton house, the couple worked with Mr. Cook, who is married to model Christie Brinkley, and his associates, as well as independent builders Ron Valenza and Dick Webby. “They knew they wanted something unique to the Hamptons,” said Val Florio of Peter Cook AIA Architects, the project’s manager and a senior associate at Mr. Cook’s firm. “He felt strongly about not doing a typical house.”

The house features six bedrooms (the last one added over the garage last spring) and four and a half bathrooms. It has brown barn-style siding and three-foot-thick columns holding up the second story. The library has a fireplace, and a suspended walkway connects the two upstairs wings: One contains the master suite and the other contains kids’ and guest bedrooms. The basement has a staff room and a playroom (including pinball machines). The interior was decorated by Mariette Gomez of Gomez and Associates.

A big screened-in porch off the dining room leads to the backyard, complete with a pool, a tennis court and a manicured lawn with a golf green. The property’s 4.7 acres also include landscaped gardens designed by Edmund Hollander. The house doesn’t have an ocean view and is about two miles from the beach–the nearest body of water is Sag Pond.

Mr. Tisch wouldn’t comment on the deal. But his hefty offer shocked many Hamptonites, who are worried the deal will inflate the already-heated market.

“It’s a very interesting time we live in out here,” said one local, referring to the exorbitant real estate prices. “It’s like lunch money to spend a million dollars out here. In terms of everyday living, it distorts reality for all the local people. If we all worked a lifetime, it would be hard to come up with that kind of money. Homes are going for so much, the market is so strong, there’s no competitive bidding anymore. People more or less name their price.”

UPPER WEST SIDE

DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER FINDS A BETTER USE FOR DENNIS RODMAN’S SALARY The new owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Texas billionaire Mark Cuban, has taken a place in New York. The 41-year-old co-founder of Broadcast.com, a company that was purchased in July of last year by Yahoo Inc. in a $5.7 billion deal, bought a 3,662-square-foot apartment on the 45th floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower at 1 Central Park West for $13.75 million this summer.

In an e-mail, Mr. Cuban said that basketball, of course, had something to do with his purchase of the pricey condo (with walls made of glass). “It was convenient, it has a phenomenal view and great services.” And 1 Central Park West is close to the Reebok Club, where he likes to play a pick-up game of basketball when he’s in town.

According to Mr. Cuban’s broker, Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens, the apartment has high ceilings and views north over Central Park and west of the Hudson River to the George Washington Bridge. The eight-room apartment also features his-and-hers marble baths and a corner living room where the views are the best. “When you compare it to some of the condominiums that are coming on the market at Central Park West, he got a bargain,” Ms. Del Nunzio said. “Those are staring into trees or onto the street.”

Not that Mr. Cuban would know a bargain. Since selling Broadcast.com–a company he founded in 1985 that transmits radio broadcasts of college basketball games over the Internet–several of Mr. Cuban’s extravagant purchases have made the newspapers in Dallas, where he makes his home. In December, he treated himself to a private jet (a Hanukkah present) that he ordered over the Internet, and more recently to a $15 million mansion in the Preston Hollow section of Dallas.

Earlier this year, Mr. Cuban fulfilled a lifelong dream when he bought the Dallas Mavericks for $280 million–more than twice what former owner Ross Perot Jr. paid for the team in 1996. Mr. Cuban is an enthusiastic hands-on owner. Just a few months after agreeing to buy the team, he signed Dennis Rodman. The bad boy of basketball stayed in Cuban’s guest house for a while, before being booted off the team less than a month after he was signed. The tattooed player did not boost wins.

As for his feelings on New York, the Dallas native said: “I love New York. It’s a great place to do business and to visit and to sometimes have fun.”

CHELSEA

255 West 23rd Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,450-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $655,000. Selling: $645,000.

Charges: $1,375; 50 percent tax deductible.

Time on the market: five days.

SWAP MEET Three years ago, a doctor and an accountant who had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea for over 20 years incorporated the studio next door. The result was a two-bedroom apartment on the 23rd Street side of this courtyard building, which spans 23rd to 24th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues. A year ago, when they decided to move to Boston, the couple put the apartment on the market for $585,000. But after six weeks, the place hadn’t sold. By the time their broker, Gil Neary of DG Neary Limited, found a buyer, the couple had been transferred back to New York and moved back into their apartment. They didn’t put the two-bedroom back on the market until a one-bedroom apartment (just over 800 square feet) facing the courtyard became available. They bought it for $395,000 and moved there, putting their old apartment back on the market for $655,000. As it turned out, another resident in the building–a single guy who works in marketing for dot-coms–bought the two-bedroom apartment for $645,000 and moved out of his own one-bedroom place. That same day, an outside buyer bought the marketing guy’s one-bedroom apartment for $355,000. All three deals closed on Sept. 18.

GREENWICH VILLAGE

840 Broadway

Three-bed, two-bath, 2,800-square-foot co-op.

Asking; $1.8 million. Selling: $1.75 million.

Charges: $1,000; 60 percent tax deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

CO-OP BOARD TORMENTS TRADER WHO HAD HIS FACE ON FORBES The sellers of this six-room prewar loft apartment wanted a quick deal. They had already bought a place in Connecticut, and once a buyer had signed a contract, they were hoping to get both the board’s approval and the deal closed in the next 30 days. But the buyer’s job description–”day trader”–sounded “risky” to the co-op board. Sure, he had appeared on the cover of Forbes , but weren’t technology stocks going down? “They gave him a really tough time,” said the buyer’s broker, Tatiana Cames of Stribling Wells & Gay. “They put a lot of conditions on him that would have broken most deals.” Ms. Cames attributes the buyer’s willingness to stomach the process to his youth (he’s only 27). In any event, he persevered: After three months the board finally relented, and the deal closed on Sept. 5. The apartment has six rooms, 14 windows and faces west. Although the place was in good condition, the buyer plans to change the space a little to suit his taste. Ms. Cames said he will probably move in within the month.

TRIBECA

66 Leonard Street

Two-bed, 2 1/2-bath, 2,077-square-foot condo.

Asking: $1.75 million. Selling: $1.75 million.

Charges: $1,035. Taxes: $780.

Time on the market: seven months.

WHO KNEW NEW YORKERS COULD WAIT? The owners of the pre-sold lofts in this converted prewar building have been banging down the door to move in. “People are moving in as we speak,” said a sales agent for the building on Sept. 22, two days after the building was legally finished and sales could become final. The building features all sorts of snazzy extras, such as the “library,” a residents’ lounge (complete with a catering kitchen and “pickled ash cabinetry”) that can be rented out for private parties, and a media room where residents can hold video conferences while sitting at a conference table of brushed oak. According to the building’s Web site, the concierge is available by both fax and e-mail, and the lobby decor “will contrast the historical character of the facade with a contemporary, urbane interior, featuring industrial elements.” (Think lots of metal.) There’s also a fitness center with a massage room, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten will open a restaurant in the building next spring. The building came on the market in May of 1999, and all the apartments had been spoken for by last December. Although future residents were told they would be able to move in by April 2000, the building was not completed until just a few weeks ago. But the wait did not deter the couple from New Jersey who bought this apartment. Their broker, Barbara Godson, a senior vice president at the Halstead Property Company, said they were willing to move from sublet to sublet until their new cushy home was ready.