Barely three months after buying a house at 10 East 75th Street
for $7.95 million in order to expand, the Hewitt School is selling the building
for a little more than $8 million.
On Dec. 3, the all-girls school, which includes kindergarten
through high school, made an $11 million deal to buy another building, 3 East
76th Street, a block away, that sources at Hewitt said would better accommodate
its growing lower school.
Both buildings are within a block of Hewitt’s main school
building, at 45 East 75th Street, but the 76th Street building is nearly twice
the size and already zoned for non-residential use.
Owned by Sarina Tang, an art dealer and the wife of First
Amendment lawyer Martin Garbus, 3 East 76th Street currently houses a duplex
apartment, the Townhouse Day Spa, a medical referral service and two art
galleries, one of which is Sarina Tang Fine Arts. Ms. Tang’s mother, Georgette
Tang, occupies the duplex.
According to sources familiar with the deal, trustee Louis Dubin,
a real-estate developer, mentioned to Pam Liebman, the chief executive of the
Corcoran Group, over lunch that the 10 East 75th Street building was not quite
as large as the school would have liked. Hewitt had discovered that it could
only add four new students to its rolls at the 75th Street building.
In one day, Corcoran showed Hewitt the building at 3 East 76th
Street, which had not yet gone on the market but was being represented by Corcoran’s
Carrie Chiang, and an offer was made. Since Hewitt had to make its money back
from the 75th Street building before it could buy the 76th Street one, a
Corcoran broker found a technology entrepreneur and his wife who wanted to buy
the 75th Street building from the school.
In making the decision, Hewitt did a financial study of the $3
million difference in cost of the two buildings and found that it could
increase enrollment by 40 students if it took the larger one. And with the
additional operating capital, the mortgage payments on the 76th Street building
became easier to swallow than on the 75th Street one.
The solution came just in time: Since Hewitt’s September purchase
of the 75th Street house from developer Aby Rosen, Linda MacMurray Gibbs, Hewitt’s
Head of School, had met with a small community delegation to discuss the
school’s plans. This was followed, on Nov. 8, by a gathering of about 45
residents of 75th Street between Fifth and Park avenues at the Whitney Museum
of American Art; the topic was how to stop Hewitt from turning the house, on a
mostly residential block, into a school.
It was urgent for Hewitt to find more space. With enrollment
rising 30 percent in the last six years, the school started looking last year
at the many Upper East Side manses on the market. Having located a space, it
kicked off its first-ever capital campaign this fall to pay for the expansion.
“We had looked at the
[six buildings that the Lycée Français is selling],” said Ms. Gibbs, “and were
at one point last year going into contract on [12 East 73rd Street]-a little
townhouse that had been completely renovated for a school. We made an offer
which was accepted, but we could never get the contract signed because the
Lycée was unable to give us any idea when we could take possession.”
The school was satisfied for a time with 10 East 75th
Street-until even that space seemed too small, and the neighborhood took issue
with its plans.
Buying 3 East 76th Street seems like the solution. The sale is
scheduled to be final in six to nine months-when the tenants are completely
vacated-and the school has hired architects Harris Smith Design, with a target
occupancy date of sometime next year. “They have just completed interviews with
all our staff about what should go in there,” said Ms. Gibbs.
In flipping 10 East 75th Street to the couple, who will take up
renovations where Mr. Rosen left off, the school will make only a token profit,
according to Ms. Gibbs. “I think we made a little bit, just a little tiny bit,
off the sale. But schools have to do so many inspections and all kinds of
studies before developing a property-and they’re expensive-that I would say we
broke even on the property. We wouldn’t have sold the property otherwise.”
Broadway (the Ansonia)
one-bedroom, one-bath condo.
price: $800,000. Selling price: $780,000.
charges: $822. Taxes: $71.
on the market: two months.
DO YOU GET TO THE ANSONIA? Once the home of legendary crooner Caruso, as
well as New York institutions Plato’s Retreat and the original Keene’s
steakhouse, the Ansonia, like the Dakota, is one of the Upper West Side’s most
fabled landmarks. But unlike the Dakota, which went co-op in the 1970’s and has
been filled with celebrities ever since, the Ansonia remains the kind of
old-school Upper West Side dowager where piano teachers still give lessons in
garreted apartments and erstwhile one-night Broadway “legends” trundle their
laundry carts into the elevators. Of course, there are some pretty pricey
places in the building now, in part because its ornate Beaux Arts exterior
details jutting out onto Broadway are like an advertisement for Old New York.
But-as in this case-it takes a renter vacating an apartment for a buyer to get
one. And even then, the place usually needs quite a bit of updating. Aside from
the nest of pigeons outside the window, this place had plumbing and wiring
circa 1903. But after waiting six months for it to be cleaned up, the bachelor
from New Hampshire who was transferred to the city with his large
pharmaceutical firm and bought the place now has gargoyles peering into his living room. One old legend
of the building has it that a prominent businessman shot himself in the living
room of his apartment-and it was hours before even his wife knew it happened.
During the renovations, according to Charles H. Greenthal broker Margo Goodale,
they found the reason: The walls and floors, which were being cut through to
create a new layout in this apartment, were two and a half feet thick. Maybe
that’s why Russian piano diva Evgeny Kissin is allowed to stay.
East 63rd Street
price: $999,000. Selling price: $990,000.
$2,166; 48 percent tax-deductible.
on the market: three months.
CHRISTMAS PRESENT This 17-story, red-brick apartment building was built in
1962, but it’s not one of those white-brick wonders that filled up the Upper
East Side east of Lexington Avenue in the 1950’s and 60’s. Beekman Estates features
layouts reminiscent of the older Upper East Side buildings-and this apartment
is no exception, with two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a separate maid’s
quarters with its own bedroom and bathroom. The sellers have very traditional
tastes, and so visitors were surprised to see it look so prewar. “A lot of
people fell in love with the place for that reason,” said Joyce Weisshappel of
the Corcoran Group, who represented the seller in the deal. The doorman
building is an Upper East Side paradox: over 100 feet of frontage on turgid
Lexington Avenue, but a front entrance on a shady East 63rd Street block across
from the Romanesque Revival entryway to the Barbizon Hotel. This apartment has
a large living room, formal dining room, marble baths and northern and southern
exposures, though all of that is divided among 1,800 square feet, making the
room dimensions more run-of-the-mill. But everything was in perfect condition,
since the place was a pied-à-terre .
“They live abroad and they were coming only
once a year, and supporting an apartment that they never used didn’t make
sense,” said Ms. Weisshappel of the sellers. Over the summer, one deal
after another fell through-until a couple whose grown kids all live in New York
decided to take the place. The father splits his time between Texas and the
city as it is, and now Mom gets to join in on the fun. Carole Healy of the
Corcoran Group represented the buyer.
West 10th Street
price: $2.795 million.
price: $2.6 million.
on the market: two months.
DOUBLE TAKE The couple that sold this two-family townhouse are experts;
they’ve been buying and renovating townhouses and turning them around for a
nice profit for years. With this property, a brick 1826 Federal-style
townhouse, they preserved the Doric pilasters around the large front door, the
19th-century “horse walk” (a corridor that runs the length of the house to a
rear courtyard), and the working fireplaces with pine mantels. And they kept
the place as a two-family home that could generate income for its owner. But
the buyers were of a different opinion. They’re getting ready to do their own
renovations-most significantly, reverting to the original one-family configuration.
Not that they didn’t appreciate the sellers’ touches. According to Joseph
Dwyer, a broker from the Corcoran Group who works with Sarah Gelbard and
Meredith Hatfield, who sold the house, these include “the master bedroom, which
had all been redone with beautiful imported Moroccan tiles and skylights.”
Another plus, he said: “Each floor has a terrace on the back.”
manhattanites fall for brooklyn
$1.3 million lofts on broadway
Tom Sullivan is not the first Manhattanite to move to
Williamsburg. But the 30-year-old Wall Streeter, who’s been renting the same
apartment in Chelsea for the last seven years, may be among the first to buy
“We had considered
Williamsburg in the past,” Mr. Sullivan said, referring to himself and his wife
Cynthia. “But we couldn’t find anything for sale other than run-down houses.”
That was before developers teamed up with Manhattan’s
two largest real-estate brokerages, Insignia Douglas Elliman and the Corcoran
Group, to lure Manhattanites to Williamsburg, dubbing it the next Tribeca.
Elliman’s pronouncement is literal: The company is now
marketing 24 apartments at 100 Havemeyer Street-their first project in
Brooklyn-through its Tribeca office. Helene Luchnick, an executive vice
president at Elliman who specializes in new loft developments in downtown
Manhattan, is in charge of building sales. In October, she sold the Sullivans a
1,500-square-foot, top-floor apartment with a spiral staircase leading up to a
private roof deck for $358,000.
The building, near Hope Street, is around the corner
from one neighborhood nightspot, Black Betty, but a little off the beaten track
for the trendy Manhattanites who cruise the boutiques and restaurants of
Bedford Avenue. Prices range from $300,000 to $660,000, which gets a 1,628-square-foot,
four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath duplex. Finishes are less ambitious than
those in Tribeca-maple instead of cherry cabinets, and G.E. Profile appliances
instead of SubZeros. Finally, there’s a more practical perk: “Thanks to a 421a
Tax Abatement, common charges and real
estate taxes start at only $95 a month!” reads a brochure.
Corcoran is a little more ambitious, marketing 42
condos in an old cast-iron structure called the Smith-Gray building at 138
Broadway, near Bedford Street, priced as high as $1.3 million. The location is
a few blocks from two local landmarks, the restaurants Peter Luger and Diner.
“Twelve of the apartments have signed contracts,” said Corcoran broker Elan
Padeh. “And we just started showing them in mid-November.”
Until building began, the developer of 138 Broadway,
the Kay Organization, was planning to rent the units. But while the
Williamsburg rental market started to sag this summer, the condo market-what
there is of one, anyway-appears healthy. “We need [condos],” said Williamsburg
broker Kenn Firpo, whose office is on Bedford Avenue. “There’s not enough to
That, said Ms. Luchnick, is part of the reason she’s
spending so much time in Williamsburg. She’s checked out another loft
development near McCarren Park, where Greenpoint and Williamsburg meet. The 11
units would come on the market this spring. Further south, at South Third and
Berry streets, a manufacturing building is being converted to 28 one- and
two-bedroom units from 650 to 1,150 square feet. They’ll be on the market this
spring too, Ms. Luchnick said, for $400 to $500 a square foot. She said
construction had just begun on another building by the same developers who did
100 Havemeyer, two blocks south. “A townhouse-type building,” Ms. Luchnick
said, “only four stories, eight apartments [in each of the three 'townhouses'],
but here they’ll all be one- and two-bedrooms, from 800 to 1,600 square feet.”
Regarding the price, Ms. Luchnick said: “I can’t even
project what the price will be for those in spring 2003. It’s the tip of the
At this point, there’s very little pricing history from
new developments in Williamsburg to go on. Corcoran’s Mr. Padeh said that he
decided to price 138 Broadway just below comparable spaces in Tribeca, and a
notch above the brick townhouses now being bought and renovated all over the
neighborhood. Doing so, he said, would generate enough interest to make the
Richard Pergolis, a partner in 100 Havemeyer, agreed.
“People are starting to think of this segment of Williamsburg as like
Manhattan,” he said. “People from Tribeca are coming to look at these
“Fifty percent of our buyers are from Manhattan,” Mr.
If their high-end condos don’t go over, Mr. Pergolis
added, they’ll just go back to Plan A-renting them.
“We always have that to fall back on,” he said.