What a Girl Wants: Hewitt School Shops for $8 Million Annex

New York City’s smallest private girls’ school is about to get a little larger. In late June of this year, representatives from the Hewitt School signed a contract to buy a mostly gutted townhouse at 10 East 75th Street, just one block from their location of 30 years at 45 East 75th Street. The asking price was $9.5 million, and real-estate sources close to the deal said that the school agreed to pay the owner, developer Aby Rosen, around $8 million for the property. The deal is expected to close in early September.

The 10 East 75th Street house, which Mr. Rosen put on the market in October 2000, will give the school an extra 12,000 square feet of space. In some ways, the acquisition of this new building is a physical symbol of the changes the Hewitt School has undergone in the past several years.

Hewitt’s enrollment has increased by about 30 percent over the past six years, and additional space was a must. “We are really maxed out,” said Anita Edwards, Hewitt’s director of admissions and financial aid.

Founded in the 1920′s as Miss Hewitt’s Classes, Hewitt changed its name in the late 1960′s; it was the last of the girls’ schools to drop the “Miss.” For much of the school’s 80-year history, it has catered primarily to the daughters of Manhattan’s wealthy elite–super debutantes Brenda Frasier and Cobina Wright attended the school in its early years, and the names DuPont, Morgan and Sarnoff can all be found in a list of past graduates. Equestrian classes were once part of the curriculum, and, until the 1970′s, girls greeted their headmistress each morning with a curtsey.

But the school has changed with the times. AP classes were finally added in the late 1960′s, and the school has not had a debutante since 1991. More recently, the fifth headmaster, Dr. Mary Jane Yurchak, made a push to implement an impressive technology program in the school–girls in the eighth through 12th grades are required to bring a laptop every day, and the entire school is wired. But the school still has a reputation for not providing as rigorous an education as some of the city’s other girls’ schools. Said one Hewitt insider: “The girls aren’t burned out, let’s just put it that way.”

InJuly2000,Linda MacMurray Gibbs, a short-lived associate head of the Chapin School, took over at Hewitt, and with the school’s board, administrators, parents and students, she has been reevaluating the school, looking at issues of diversity, curriculum, technology and especially expansion. Ms. Gibbs was out of town and unavailable for comment, but Ms. Edwards said that “expansion was a specific mandate of hers.” The school’s current location is a combination of two houses, but the area is landmarked and does not allow for upward expansion.

Now, the rise in enrollment demands more space. “There’s a large population of children in New York City right now, and the demand for girls’ schools is very strong,” said Ms. Edwards. “Our plan is to become a somewhat larger school, while keeping the personal attention we give our students.”

Real-estate sources say the school contemplated buying 12 East 73rd Street, one of the townhouses being sold by the Lycée Français, but that deal fell through. Mr. Rosen’s house, however, marketed by Richard Steinberg of Ashforth Warburg, fit the bill perfectly. It was closer to the school’s other site and had been put on the market mid-renovation (the floors had been done, but little else), so the school won’t have to do its own demolition.

Although Hewitt has not yet solidified its plans, it is likely that the 10 East 75th Street townhouse will be used for lower-school classrooms starting next year.

In the meantime, the school is trying to make do with the space they have. This summer, the school has done renovations to its 45 East 75th Street location, trying to squeeze in more classrooms for the lower school, where kindergarten enrollment has jumped from the low 30′s to the low 40′s in the past few years.

EAST HAMPTON

TROUBLED COBBLER STEVE MADDEN SELLS OFF EAST END ASSET Last summer, as chunky-shoe designer Steve Madden was selling millions of pairs of $50 flippy black shoes to young ladies, he was indicted for allegedly helping two brokerage firms manipulate his company’s stock for a share of the profits. On the day of his arrest, shares of Steve Madden Ltd. fell almost 15 percent, to $11.85, from a high of $13.88, while Mr. Madden, 44, maintained his innocence and put up his East Hampton house at 46 Old Orchard Lane to make bail. But in May, Mr. Madden, a Long Island native, pleaded guilty to related fraud charges, and at a sentencing scheduled for September he faces over four years in prison and fines of $9.3 million.

On June 7, Mr. Madden sold the Orchard Lane house, which had been on the market since December 1999, for $1.05 million to real estate developer Kamran Malekan. Brokers said the 4,400-square-foot house, with a three-car garage, was designed by Water Mill architect Bill Chaleff in 1995. On one and a half acres, the house has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, Italian tile in the kitchen, an impressive sound system, a pool and a greenhouse.

“It’s not Lily Pond Lane or Further Lane, but it’s a nice neighborhood,” said broker Tina Fredericks, who owns her own firm in East Hampton. “With mostly two-acre lots, [the street] is fairly close to the village, and a lot of the land there has beautiful beech trees.”

Meanwhile, the company marches on. Though Mr. Madden stepped down as chief executive of Steve Madden Ltd. on July 1, the company posted an 18 percent rise in profits in the second quarter–a total of $4.42 million in sales during that period. Mr. Madden’s office said he was in Las Vegas and would not comment.

HARLEM

204 West 122nd Street

Five-bed, three-bath, 3,300-square-foot townhouse.

Asking: $675,000. Selling: $600,000.

Time on the market: six weeks.

THE FAMILY JEWEL When her grandmother died five or six years ago, a woman who works as a systems analyst got the deed to this Queen Anne-style townhouse near Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. The house, which had been run as a rooming house, had been in the family since 1923. But the systems analyst had another plan for the property: to fix the place up to sell it. She created a triplex upstairs and left only one rental unit on the garden floor. According to her broker, Robert M. Pollock of Uptown Homes Real Estate, the systems analyst initially thought she would sell the place for $229,000 when all the work was done. Then Harlem townhouse sales skyrocketed, and she wound up getting three times that price. The buyers, a couple in their 30′s, saw the house in an ad in The New York Times . They liked that the place was filled with original details, including inlaid parquet floors, stained and leaded glass, seven fireplaces with mantels and a 70-foot-deep parlor that has mahogany, oak and sycamore detailing. According to Mr. Pollock, the couple plans to take out some carpeting, re-sand the floors and fix up the 1,000-square-foot rental unit.

UPPER WEST SIDE

107 West 86th Street (the Lincoln)

Three-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, 1,750-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $1.15 million. Selling: $1.09 million.

Maintenance: $1,783; 40 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two weeks.

KIDS ‘R’ US A previous owner had combined a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom apartment and demolished a wall between an oversize living room and dining room to give this apartment one great big room. While brokers are unlikely to sell the sweeping expanse as a “playroom,” it is nonetheless an asset in a neighborhood to which young families flock. Otherwise, this prewar apartment near Columbus Avenue boasts parquet floors and four big windows facing Central Park. The fact that this Upper West Side building has a lot of families with kids can make getting past the co-op board a lot less of a headache. Of course, if you don’t have little ones, you might not choose to do so.

LENOX HILL

422 East 72nd Street (the Oxford)

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,530-square-foot condo.

Asking: $1.245 million. Selling: $1.22 million.

Charges: $1,026; Taxes: $912.

Time on the market: one day.

GONE IN 10 SECONDS When the chief executive of an international, publicly traded corporation wanted a pied-à-terre he could take his family to on his longer New York stays, he didn’t scour midtown. He bought a place in the Oxford, a 44-story tower near First Avenue built in 1990, with a full-time doorman, full-service garage, health club with swimming pool and a roof deck. The out-of-towners were prepared to buy an apartment where some of the walls had been knocked down to create a pared-down one-bedroom. The place had ribbon windows with eastern views of the river and southern views of midtown, but they would’ve had to sink some hard-earned money into turning it back into a two-bedroom. Then another apartment one floor below opened up–it had the same panoramic skyline and river views, the same 28-foot-long living room and large open kitchen, but with two bedrooms. The couple agreed to buy the second apartment “in like 10 seconds,” said broker Lydia Balasny of Douglas Elliman, who co-brokered the deal with Bill Postrion, also from Elliman. The sellers moved north one block.

TRIBECA

261 Broadway

Two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,285-square-foot co-op.

Asking: $705,000. Selling: $660,000.

Maintenance: $941; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two months.

YOU CAN MOVE IN NOW … RUDY’S MOVING OUT “I think this building is a bit of a sleeper,” said Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy broker Deborah Gimelson. In fact, since 1995, when the city started offering tax incentives to developers to convert vacant office space in this part of lower Manhattan into apartments, the mini-boom in development has not attracted major attention. But with outrageous prices in almost every other part of town, brokers are seeing interest–even near City Hall, a once-marginalized downtown neighborhood. This apartment, near Warren Street and directly across from City Hall, was typical of many in the neighborhood, said Ms. Gimelson, who represented the seller. “This is by no means a bright apartment,” she said. “In fact, it was really dark, and it was really for someone who was looking for space in that part of Tribeca, near Wall Street and City Hall.” The buyers considered the move carefully, working with Alex de Bordes of Eychner Associates for two years before deciding on this place. “And they weren’t too quick to go in on this deal, either,” added Ms. Gimelson. The apartment was in move-in condition, and a well-planned master suite with its own bathroom and great closet space are the main attractions. But the clincher was the competitive price and a small brick terrace perched on an outcropping of masonry detail. “[The seller] had it marvelously planted,” Ms. Gimelson said. For more outdoor space, the building offers a large, well-designed roof deck.