“Someday we will have to move,” says Sloan Lindemann, lapping up the attention given her 12-room Park Avenue apartment in the new interior-design coffee-table book Bright Young Things , by Ms. Lindemann’s pal Brooke de Ocampo. “But I will put a provision in the contract that no one can ever paint over the dining-room mural,” a Moroccan scene created by artist James Smith.
The book, which was supposed to capture young turn-of-the-century society in their signature homes, appears to be already out-of-date–or at least Ms. Lindemann’s entry does. Brokers say that the 32-year-old, Greenwich, Conn.-bred former Manhattan district attorney (now a host of She Commerce , a show on the Oxygen television network) is about to put the photogenic, 4,500-square-foot apartment at 550 Park Avenue up for sale for about $9.5 million, the price that a similar apartment in the building went on the market for in September.
Ms. Lindemann and her husband, investment banker Roger Barnett, who founded Beauty.com–a cosmetics Web site that was bought by Amazon.com for $42 million this year–have agreed to pay about $11.25 million for a 33-foot-wide mansion at 16 East 69th Street, real estate sources say. The building has served as the American headquarters for the non-profit New York English Speaking Union for 44 years. Ms. Lindemann and her husband signed a contract three months ago for less than the asking price, with the condition that the sale not be finalized until the end of November in order for the educational foundation to find smaller quarters in midtown.
The five-story neo-Georgian house was built around 1881 and was home to Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt after her husband, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, died in 1899. When an insurance executive bought it in 1930, he hired architect A. Wallace McCrea to give the house a new brick facade. The Union, which pairs newcomers to the city with native English speakers and holds classes to teach English as a second language, bought it in 1956.
There’s an iron rail fence out front and a brass door-knocker. Inside is a marble foyer, a library and separate passenger and staff elevators. The second-floor living room, which spans the full width of the house, can easily accommodate 100 guests. The neighboring dining room has 14-foot ceilings and original moldings. Three two-bedroom suites, two separate bedrooms and five bathrooms are located on the third and fourth floors, and staff quarters are on the top floor. The roof is also usable.
“It’s a very elegant, classic townhouse,” said Leslie J. Garfield, who was hired by the Union to sell 16 East 69th Street. “It’s one of a kind to me. I’ve never been in a house with the grandeur of the rooms that this house has.”
“We chose to sell the property because it’s the largest asset that we hold,” said Alice Boyne, executive director of the Union. Some of the profits will help fund scholarships and language programs, she said. “This has been a beautiful headquarters, but [the Union is] not about bricks and mortar; it’s about people.” Ms. Boyne said the Union had not yet found a new location.
Mr. Garfield showed the townhouse to some 10 to 15 people after it went on the market in the spring of 1999. He said there were two bidders vying for the property this summer, but wouldn’t comment on their identities.
Mr. Barnett and Ms. Lindemann, who were married in June of 1999, had been house-hunting long before their son, Spencer, was born in September, said brokers. Ms. Lindemann, who is currently on maternity leave from Oxygen, will have to roll up her Marc Jacobs sleeves to take on the task of renovating, then decorating the institutionalized mansion.
Ms. Lindemann could not be reached for comment, and therefore it could not be determined whether she would live up to her promise to preserve a bit of her old apartment–the Marrakesh scenes lining the dining room–for posterity.
UPPER EAST SIDE
515 PARK AVENUE CONDOS KEEP SELLING (OVER AND OVER AGAIN), BUT WILL ANYONE EVER LIVE THERE? When the 37 condominium apartments at the new 43-story tower at 515 Park Avenue broke price records–some sold for over $3,000 per square foot–the question was: Who had all that cash?
Now, with a number of the apartments remaining uninhabited as they go back on the market for even higher prices, the question is: Will there always be someone willing to spend even more cash?
The condos went on the market before they were built, with a virtual sales kit, in February 1998. The building, on the southeast corner of 60th Street and Park Avenue, was to feature private wine cellars, staff apartments on the lower floors, a residents-only gym, a library off the lobby and an in-house dining room with a caterer’s kitchen. As designed, the apartments were considered some of the largest built since the 20′s. They were all spoken for by last April. Last year, one of the developers, Arthur Zeckendorf, described those who had signed up for the apartments as “people who the 1990′s have been very nice to.”
Some buyers came to light–including Joanne Corzine, wife of New Jersey U.S. Senate candidate Jon Corzine, who reportedly paid $15 million for a duplex penthouse; Broadway producer James Nederlander and his wife Charlene; and François Pinault, the owner of Christie’s. And Alain Levy, the former president of PolyGram Records, who resigned in 1998 when the company was bought by Seagram’s, bought a 4,992-square-foot apartment on the 34th floor for $11.7 million. The French-born Mr. Levy’s apartment has four bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, a media room and a library.
But since those price records were set, they have been broken by the very same apartments: Like Mrs. Corzine, who said she bought the apartment as an investment, some buyers were not looking for a place to lay their heads. Many of the apartments have gone back on the market and have already been resold. A five-bedroom, 6,514-square-foot duplex that was bought for $11.5 million earlier this year was just sold to Craig Goldman, the chief executive of Cyber Consulting Services Corporation, a firm that advises companies on networking and technology, and his wife, Pamela, who paid $13.1 million. (The short-term owner was asking $17 million.)
The Goldmans’ new apartment has a 286-square-foot master bedroom with an adjacent sitting room, 5 1/2 bathrooms and a 1,724-square-foot terrace. Mr. Goldman, a Connecticut native who graduated from New York University, served as chief information officer for Chase Manhattan Bank from 1991 until February of 1998. He founded CCSC in 1996.
Back on the market right now are three of 515 Park Avenue’s duplex penthouses: one on the 34th and 35th floors, which was bought for $11.5 million, is now for sale for $18 million; one on the 38th and 39th floors, which was bought for $15.4 million, is for sale again for $20 million; and another on the top two floors, which was bought for $10.5 million, is back on the market for $32 million.
205 East 22nd Street
Four-bed, two-bath, 2,100-square-foot condo.
Asking: $1.195 million. Selling: $1.125 million.
Charges: $1,100. Taxes: $761.
Time on the market: 3 1/2 months.
FENG SHUI AS A LAST RESORT Chris Leavitt, a vice president at the Corcoran Group, was having trouble selling this four-bedroom apartment in a prewar condo that was in “perfect” condition. “Deals had fallen through, contracts never got signed,” he said. “It was all just stupid circumstances.” Or was it? As a last-ditch effort, Mr. Leavitt brought Herb Chissel, a feng shui specialist, up from Philadelphia, paid him $300 out of his own pocket and asked him to go to work. “He moved some stuff around; he lit up the foyer, made it more welcoming with brighter lights; [he] did some energy channeling in the apartment, just feeling the energy and changing it around with his own psychic abilities,” said Mr. Leavitt. Call it New Age hocus-pocus if you want, but a deal was made the next day. In fact, this is not the first time that Mr. Leavitt has brought Mr. Chissel in to help him sell apartments. “It’s like my last resort,” Mr. Leavitt said. “I’ve done it in three other apartments, and it always works.”
54 West 16th Street
Two-bed, two-bath, 1,300-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $665,000. Selling: $675,000.
Charges: $1,245; 62 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: 3 weeks.
MORE PROOF THAT THIS IS GORE COUNTRY A couple in their mid-30′s was relocating to Manhattan from Knoxville, Tenn. They had scheduled three days to find a new home for no more than $600,000. They wanted at least one bedroom and an office somewhere downtown. Oh, yeah, and great views. On the third day, they saw this two-bedroom apartment with beamed ceilings and a roof garden between Fifth and Sixth avenues. A bidding war erupted, so they offered $10,000 over the asking price–a total of $75,000 more than they had planned to spend. “It was difficult for them,” said their broker, Peter Belmonte of the Corcoran Group. “They were coming from a 6,000-square-foot home in Tennessee with a swimming pool, and suddenly they are looking at one-bedroom apartments.” The worst part about it? They got less than $300,000 for the place in Knoxville. Welcome to New York.
64 Bedford Street
Three-story, 2,500-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $2.2 million. Selling: $2 million.
Time on the market: 1 1/2 months.
After being owned by one family for 80 years, this nearly-200-year-old townhouse was just sold for the second time this year. In February, an entrepreneur with a family paid $1.2 million for the three-story house with an English basement. In July, he put the place back on the market for $1 million more, claming that he was not out to make a lot of money, or to avoid paying for the $500,000 in renovations he said the house required, but that he had found another place he liked better. According to his broker, Tim Desmond of Stribling and Associates, the renovations needed did turn off many of the potential buyers. “You could take this house down to the wood beams,” said Mr. Desmond. But then a fearless young single lady came along. “Not quite the profile we expected, but you never know,” said Mr. Desmond. The house is 20 feet wide, 40 feet deep and has a 40-foot garden that faces east. The top floor has three dormer bedrooms, and there are six fireplaces throughout the house.