FORMER PUBLISHER SELLS HOUSE THAT’S SPLIT INTO TWO LAVISH PADS During a week of magazine foldings– Offspring on Jan. 3, George on Jan. 4–former Hearst Magazines president D. Claeys Bahrenburg folded his tent on East 94th Street. On Jan. 3, Mr. Bahrenburg, 53, who resigned as the chairman of Petersen Publications two years ago, put his six-story townhouse at 3 East 94th Street on the market for $11.5 million.
The Federal-style limestone house was once home to F.D.R.’s ambassador to the Netherlands, then served as a childhood center for the Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children before being split into two rental apartments with separate entrances in 1991. When Mr. Bahrenburg bought the 12,000-square-foot house for $7 million a year ago, the lower residence had a two-story greenhouse that housed a hot tub and a 50-foot lap pool with a fountain shaped like a lion’s head. The lower apartment also had a fitness room complete with steam room and sauna in the basement, an eat-in kitchen with a fireplace on the first floor, a hidden movie screen in the front room of the parlor floor, and a master bedroom with two marble baths and Jacuzzi on the third floor. The upper triplex had three guest bedrooms, four marble baths, an eat-in kitchen and a sky-lit staircase leading to a master bedroom suite.
When Mr. Bahrenburg first visited the house, both apartments had been rented out by the previous owner, and the tenant in the lower apartment refused to allow potential buyers inside. Mr. Bahrenburg snuck a peek, however, rather than buy the apartment sight unseen. He’s retained the two-apartment configuration, occupying the lower one; and according to his broker, Maria Buncick of Fredric M. Reed & Co., he’s done very little in the way of alterations to the house. He’s put in an automatic watering system in the large planted terrace on the sixth story and installed sophisticated heat and air-conditioning systems. He rents out the upper apartment to a Morgan Stanley banker for $35,000 a month, said a source.
There have been several very profitable sales of homes on Mr. Bahrenburg’s block, between Fifth and Madison avenues, in the last few years. The townhouse at 13 East 94th Street was sold by an estate in 1998 for $3.5 million, which got the ball rolling. Then, in November of 1999, New York investor Bruce Kovner bought the International Center for Photography mansion on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 94th Street for $17.5 million. (He has still not taken occupancy.) A 40-foot wide house at 10-12 East 94th Street that housed the offices of Louise Wise Services, (an adoption agency), was purchased last fall by Nicholas Rohatyn, son of the former ambassador to France; Mr. Rohatyn paid $7.4 million on Dec. 6. And 1 East 94th Street, which is next to Mr. Bahrenburg’s home, was sold by Jaqui Safra and his longtime companion Jean Doumanian in December for around $9 million. Despite these sales, however, brokers say it’s unlikely that Mr. Bahrenburg will get the $11.5 million he’s asking.
Mr. Bahrenburg was fired from his position as president of Hearst Magazines in November of 1995. In 1996, he was part of a team that bought out Petersen Publishing, which publishes sporting magazines like Hot Rod and Snowboarder . He resigned from Petersen with a $20 million exit package in January of 1999, shortly after the European publisher Emap acquired the company. At the time, he told reporters that he was going to work with Willis, Stein & Partners, the Chicago-based investment-banking firm that had backed his Petersen buyout. A source said he has been investing in Internet companies.
According to his broker, Mr. Bahrenburg has not found a place to move to and “is considering many options for the future.”
UPPER EAST SIDE
STEVE WYNN ENDS UP BACK WHERE HE STARTED, MINUS $7 MILLION Casino king Steve Wynn got $4.4 billion for his Mirage Resorts in a hostile takeover by MGM Grand chairman Kirk Kerkorian last March, but all the money in the jackpot couldn’t buy him into a tony co-op. For the past year, Mr. Wynn has been apartment-hunting, checking out 998 Fifth Avenue and 820 Fifth Avenue–two of the toughest buildings to get into–while living in a 3,450-square-foot condo at 817 Fifth Avenue, which Mirage had purchased for him in 1995 for $1.575 million.
“The problem is that it’s Las Vegas money,” said one broker about Mr. Wynn’s failure to get into 820 Fifth, after he offered $17.5 million for socialite Nancy Richardson’s apartment. “People like him–there’s never been any controversy about him–but it’s gambling money.”
So in October, Mr. Wynn bought the condo (complete with a mirrored bathroom) from Mirage for the bargain price of $7 million, in what one broker called “a sweetheart deal.”
The seventh-floor apartment has its elevator button painted white so Mr. Wynn, who suffers from poor vision, can see which button to press. The building, near East 63rd Street, was built in 1925, and there is only one apartment per floor. Neighbors include Richard Gere and significant other Carey Lowell, who bought the ninth floor for $9 million in July. And the top-floor apartment went on the market last month for $15 million, represented by A. Laurance Kaiser IV of Key Ventures Realty.
UPPER WEST SIDE
172 West 82nd Street
Two-bed, one-bath, 900-square-foot co-op.
Asking: $485,000. Selling: $495,000.
Charges: $898; 60 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: one day.
HOW TO BUILD A DUPLEX THE HARD WAY Lynne Sullivan of Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy and her family had outgrown this 900-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in a brownstone. After trying unsuccessfully to buy the apartment above them in order to make a duplex, they found a bigger apartment in another building. But what didn’t work for the Sullivan family worked for a downstairs neighbor. Before she’d put her old apartment on the market, Ms. Sullivan ran into another tenant in the building who said she was expecting a third child and needed more space. “I said, ‘It’s too bad you don’t live under our apartment, because then you could buy it and turn it into a duplex,'” Ms. Sullivan said. And then she had a brainstorm: She told her neighbor to ask the people living above her if they would move into Ms. Sullivan’s apartment and sell their apartment to her. That way, the pregnant woman could have a duplex and Ms. Sullivan would have a buyer for her apartment. The third party was hesitant to go through the hassle. But after two weeks of negotiations, they finally agreed. According to Ms. Sullivan, it was “Nirvana for everyone …. I sold my apartment to a neighbor and didn’t have to share the commission, my downstairs neighbor got to stay put and still have enough room for their third kid,” and the other tenant in the building “made a pile of money,” she said. “You have to be creative to get what you want.”
489 West 22nd Street
Five-story, 3,750-square-foot townhouse.
Asking: $1.95 million. Selling: $1.7 million.
Time on the market: three and a half months.
THE LUCKY BASTARD IN THE ATTIC This Anglo-Italianate townhouse is part of a row of eight similar houses built in 1856, right across the street from Clement Clark Moore Park. The place comes with good light and four fireplaces. It also comes with an unevictable rent-controlled tenant on the top floor who pays a mere $310.54 for his full-floor, one-bedroom apartment with a fireplace. When the sellers bought this house four years ago from Linda Fenn of Douglas Elliman, there was a renter on the fourth floor, too, but the crafty couple was able to get rid of him and turn his simplex into their own master bedroom suite. But in spite of the spatial improvement, the couple put the place on the market last spring after deciding to raise their kids in Westchester. They sold the house to a couple from Pittsburgh, who will rent out the first three floors and use the fourth as their own pied-à-terre. As for the rent-controlled tenant, “he isn’t even that old,” said Ms. Fenn. “He must have gotten this deal right out of college.”
5 East 17th Street
One-bedroom, one-bathroom, 5,600-square-foot condo.
Asking: $2.295 million. Selling: $2.15 million.
Charges: $1,242. Taxes: $953.
Time on the market: one year.
THE BATHROOM IS IN MY OTHER APARTMENT The 32-year-old Wall Street trader who bought this loft is in for a big change of lifestyle. For the past few years, he’s been living in two unconnected 450-square-foot studios on Waverly Place. “It’s like I have a place and another place down the hall,” he said. The trader said he had initially bought the second studio in the hope that one of his next-door neighbors would swap with him, but nobody did. “It wasn’t that bad to have them,” he said. “I’ve had people stay in one of them for an extended period of time, but for the most part I shuttle between the two.” Still, when he started looking for a new place, he wanted something very different from his current living accommodations. “I was looking for a big open space that I could configure however I wanted,” he said. “Somewhere that I could live in for a long time, and with plenty of space to be flexible.” His new apartment is in the newly converted building at 5 East 17th Street, with seven units. The six 5,600-square-foot apartments, which were in the $2 million range, and the penthouse, which is $3 million, will all be unfinished spaces. The trader closed on this apartment, which has a fireplace and lots of exposures, just a few days before Christmas. But he expects that he’ll be living in his two studios for at least six months longer. He hasn’t even settled on an architect yet.