Two months before filming began on the sixth and final season of Sex and the City , the show’s creator, Darren Star, finally snagged one of his characters’ most coveted trinkets: an East Hampton beach house.
Mr. Star, who also created Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place , closed in early February on a $2.85 million house that he had already been renting for the past two seasons, county records show.
The two-story shingle-style house is on Spaeth Lane, an offshoot of ritzy Further Lane that dead-ends at the ocean. His relatively modest 2,800-square-foot house was the unlikely creation (given its modesty) of the Hamptons’ favorite architect, Francis Fleetwood-the man who designed houses for Nicole Miller, Paul McCartney and Alec Baldwin, as well as an 18,000-square-foot mansion in Wainscott that’s currently on the market for $50 million.
“It’s a simple, fairly modest beach house in a relatively coveted address,” said broker Stephen Hammock of Allan M. Schneider Associates, who was marketing the house before Mr. Star made a deal directly with its owner, George Schneider, a lawyer who went to Dalton and Trinity with Mr. Fleetwood. “I wanted to build a practical house that would work for him and his kids,” Mr. Fleetwood said of the place.
Mr. Hammock said that there’s no official access to the beach from Spaeth Lane, but residents with beachfront access generally don’t mind allowing locals to cut through.
“Provided you get along with your neighbors, it’s not a problem,” Mr. Hammock said.
Mr. Star’s plot of land is just short of an acre and has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two fireplaces and a pool.
But don’t expect the 41-year-old Mr. Star to laze around the Hamptons for a long stretch. Mr. Television has several projects in development, including a pilot that he is slated to produce for NBC, starring Alicia Silverstone as an attorney who moonlights as a matchmaker.
Mortar Board Meets Co-op Board in $7.8 M. Deal: Egghead Socialite Pays Queen’s Ransom on Park Ave.
It’s going to be a lot easier for social historian Barbara Goldsmith to cozy up with Sonny Mehta, her publisher at Knopf, now that she’s passed the co-op board at Mr. Mehta’s building, 550 Park Avenue.
The noted journalist, novelist, philanthropist and human-rights activist is set to close on a 4,500-square-foot apartment that is listing for $7.8 million.
Ms. Goldsmith declined to comment on her purchase, saying, “I haven’t finished up that deal yet.” Her 17th-floor perch will put her within some 200 feet of Mr. Mehta, who in 1998 published Ms. Goldsmith’s latest book, Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull .
The A-list building, located between 61st and 62nd streets, also served as home for 34 years to the legendary Vogue editrix Diana Vreeland (who famously covered the entire place in red lacquer), until her death in 1989. Ousted American Express chief executive James Robinson III and former Manhattan District Attorney Sloan Lindemann have also lived in the building.
Ms. Goldsmith is no stranger to such lofty circles. She was a founding editor of New York magazine and a senior editor of Harper’s Bazaar , as well as the author of the 1987 book Johnson v. Johnson , which chronicled the squabbling over the fortune of J. Seward Johnson. Ms. Goldsmith holds multiple doctorate degrees, is a trustee of the New York Public Library, and has endowed the Barbara Goldsmith P.E.N. Freedom to Write Award, an annual gift that spotlights imprisoned writers.
Nevertheless, winning approval at 550 Park is no mean feat, given the co-op board’s willingness to take on tenants as powerful as Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty, who owns three apartments in the building, has filed suit over fees being charged by the co-op’s board to the Canadian government, which uses the apartments to house its consul general to New York and its permanent representative to the United Nations. The co-op board wants to charge the Canadian government $83,500 in transfer taxes upon each diplomatic changing-of-the-guard, or every four years. Canada shouldn’t be liable for those fees, the queen’s suit contends, because there is no transfer of property going on-only a change of tenants. The case is pending.
UPPER EAST SIDE
320 East 57th Street
One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $465,000 Selling: $460,000.
Maintenance: $1,125; 57 percent tax deductible.
Time on the market: 10 days.
LEGAL CIRCLE A lawyer in her 30′s had run out of patience with her beat-up rental on East 57th Street. “It was a pre-war apartment, but it wasn’t what we usually envision when we say ‘pre-war,’” said her broker, Tristan Harper, a vice president at Douglas Elliman. “The appliances were breaking down, there was an old-fashioned heating system-it was just not in great shape.” Then again, as a litigator in the high-intensity field of mergers and acquisitions, she couldn’t afford to spend more than two weeks on an apartment search. Compounding matters, she wanted to stay within walking distance of work-which was the only nice thing about her rental. So when this 850-square-foot co-op hit the market, she was among the first lookers. Not only was it on the same street as her rental, but it sits on a high floor, has open midtown skyline views and a working fireplace, cedar closets and a windowed bathroom. She immediately put in a winning bid and went back to work on a billion-dollar litigation case. But as it neared time to close on the apartment, something in the paperwork caught the lawyer’s eye. It was the name of the seller: He was a lawyer from another firm, and they were both working on the same billion-dollar case in an attempt to sue the same third party. “They both thought it was fun,” said Mr. Harper. “It was a ‘small-world’ type of thing.”
1601 Third Avenue
Two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo.
Asking: $575,000. Selling: $560,000.
Charges: $913. Taxes: $835.
Time on the market: six weeks.
BIG APPLE TURNOVER A technician who works the night shift at Columbia Presbyterian hospital had been living at this Carnegie Hill rental for 26 years when it suddenly became too expensive to stay. Her home was a Mitchell-Lama building-a city-subsidized residence for middle-income earners-and its landlord had recently gained permission to buy out the building. For tenants like the hospital technician, there were three options: continue to rent at quickly escalating rates, buy the unit at lower-than-market rates, or sell their ownership rights at market value. The technician, who had been paying $900 per month in rent, was unable to afford the first two options, so she grudgingly opted for the third. “I’m still traumatized,” she said. “I never thought I’d lose that apartment.” The chief executive of a hospital bought the apartment, and the uprooted technician is having an uncomfortable time with her pets in a small one-bedroom rental. “I barely have room to turn around-and I have two little doggies, and they don’t have any space to run.” Despite the cramping, the technician managed to sound a few positive notes. “It was not a happy experience, but I hope to take the money I did gain and put it towards a down payment on an apartment,” she said. “God willing, I hope I find some place soon.” William B. May broker Diane Stigliano had the exclusive on the apartment.
330 West 17th Street
Two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $650,000. Selling: $620,000.
Maintenance: $1,186; 48 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: two months.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS Paris-born Herve Merlinot is a senior stylist at the ultra-chic salon Frédéric Fekkai, where he’s worked for the last six years. He was responsible for many of the models in Diane Von Furstenberg’s Spring Fashion Week runway show, and he recently gave trimmings to eight of the models in New York magazine’s “Weddings” issue. Cutting hair has been good to Mr. Merlinot, but when he started his house hunt, he was only thinking about buying a studio or a small one-bedroom. Instead, he now finds himself the owner of a much pricier two-bedroom duplex. “In the beginning, I said I didn’t want to see the two-bedroom, because I was sure it was too expensive,” Mr. Merlinot recalled. Little by little, however, his agent, Jocelyne Remer of Michel Madie Real Estate Services, convinced him to give the bigger place some real thought. To some extent, Ms. Remer was also groping around in uncharted territory.
“It was my first deal,” the French-born real-estate agent said. “I concentrated almost exclusively on Herve and finding him the place of his dreams.” In the end, Mr. Merlinot couldn’t pass up the 10-foot-high ceilings, 1,000 square feet and split-level living, which he said made the place feel “like a little home.” Wasn’t that the idea? Makeba Lloyd, an associate broker at Benjamin James Associates, had the exclusive on the property.