The 92nd Street Y is accepting sealed bids on a vacant lot that the Jewish cultural organization owns on 92nd Street, between Park and Lexington avenues. The Y had originally intended to erect a new facility on the space, but has now abandoned that plan because the organization is no longer pinched for space. As it turns out, a large West 67th Street townhouse that was donated to the Y in 2001 gave the organization all the room it needs for its expanded activities.
“We bought the lot because we were thinking of building an extension there,” said Alix Friedman, the Y’s director of public relations. “But [after the donation], we came to see that the West Side facility serves our space needs. We’ve taken another look at the East Side property and decided we don’t need it. The board has authorized us to sell it.”
The vacant lot is located at 125 East 92nd Street, and is bounded on both sides by residential townhouses. Ms. Friedman declined to put a minimum price on the property, but she said she has already received several unsolicited bids.
The Y purchased the 25-foot-wide lot for $1.035 million in 1996, when the confines of its main headquarters at 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue began to prove too close for comfort.
“We’re in a 73-year-old building that’s bursting at the seams,” said Ms. Friedman. “We had people who were working in what were literally closets.”
The previous owners of the lot, a husband and wife, had bought the property themselves after a condemned townhouse on the spot had been torn down. The couple had to abandon their plans to erect a new house when it became too expensive to realize their vision. They then sold it to the Y, which spent the next several years embroiled in a dispute with its Carnegie Hill neighbors over the Y’s plans to erect a five-story institutional building on the site. But by early 2001, with the zoning battle won, the Y was on the verge of breaking ground for the new building when it, too, halted its development plans for the lot.
That February, Michael Steinhardt, a retired hedge-fund manager and founder of Makor, an Upper West Side Jewish cultural center, announced that he was donating the Makor building to the Y, and that the two organizations would merge. His gift was a double-wide 22,000-square-foot townhouse on 67th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.
The still-vacant 92nd Street lot measures 25 feet wide by 100 feet deep. Neighbors include Woody Allen, who owns a townhouse one block to the west.
Co-op King Sells Village Townhouse In ‘Unsentimental’ $4.7 M. Deal
In the 1980′s, developer Francis Greenburger earned the nickname “King of the Co-ops” by converting more than 10,000 New York rental apartments into co-ops. The real-estate crash of the late 80′s wasn’t kind to his company, Time Equities Inc., but he’s since clawed his way back to the top, and-proving he’s no sentimentalist-he just unloaded a rental building that was extremely close to his heart.
In mid-February, Mr. Greenburger sold a four-unit Greenwich Village townhouse that he and his family had lived in for about 15 years.
“Frankly, the rental market was not strong enough,” Mr. Greenburger said. “It was economically more advantageous to sell it than to rent it.”
The building, at 43 West 10th Street, had been home to Mr. Greenburger and his family from 1985 until right around 1999, when he and his kin moved to a larger house on Waverly Place. It’s now owned by Jan Carendi, the new head of American operations for Allianz A.G., the financial-services conglomerate. Mr. Carendi paid $4.7 million for the house, which was delivered vacant. A spokesperson for Allianz said that Mr. Carendi was in Germany and unavailable for comment.
While they were living on West 10th Street, the Greenburgers occupied the duplex apartment on the second and third floors, while other tenants occupied the ground level and top floors. Mr. Greenburger exercised his option to buy the building in 1998 for $1.8 million.
“It had what I thought was one of the nicest gardens in the neighborhood,” Mr. Greenburger said. “And not only was the garden nice, but the adjacent houses’ gardens were nice, too. That’s one of the things I miss: the way [our garden] looked out to others around it. Birds were singing … it was very pleasant.”
Mr. Greenburger said his company is currently involved in about 25 real-estate deals across the country, including a conversion project for a 100-plus apartment complex in Freeport, Long Island.
RECENT TRANSACTIONS IN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET
UPPER EAST SIDE
1623 Third Avenue
Four-bedroom, four-bathroom condo.
Asking: $1.1 million. Selling: $940,000.
Charges: $1,303. Taxes: $998.
Time on the market: one month.
CATERING TO THE KIDS As the owner of Michelle’s Kitchen, a lunch spot and catering restaurant on Lexington Avenue between 61st and 62nd streets, Samir Billan is well versed in the precepts of space efficiency. Despite its relatively small size, Michelle’s exports some gargantuan catering orders every day. The Kitchen also attracts a star-studded roster of regulars who include Hugh Grant, Brooke Shields, Paul Newman and many former First Ladies. “I still have a $20 bill that Jackie O. used to pay for her wild mushroom soup,” said Mr. Billan. Despite being able to wring such an operation out of his diminutive store, Mr. Billan, 50, recently decided that he no longer wanted to meet that kind of challenge on the home front. He and his wife have six children, ranging in age from 3 to 14, and their old three-bedroom apartment just wasn’t cutting it. “When you have six children in that tiny of a space,” he said, “everything gets lost.” The margin of difference, in Mr. Billan’s case, turned out to be just one more bedroom. When he closed on and moved into this four-bedroom spread at Rupert Towers-a new condo conversion at 92nd Street-everything seemed to fall into place. “When you have a bigger space, everyone knows where their stuff is,” he said. “It’s really like heaven when you have a big apartment.” And as you would expect, Mr. Billan put in a kitchen fit for a caterer. “I can cook for 40 to 50 people here,” he said. “I used marble for the table, cabinets, and put in a G.E. six-burner stove.” Kathleen Rupy of Michel Madie Real Estate Services brokered the deal.
UPPER WEST SIDE
277 West End Avenue
Three-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $1.695 million. Selling: $1.645 million.
Maintenance: $1,466; 48 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three weeks.
PRAGUE-ON-THE-HUDSON Between 1990 and 1997, the American couple who bought this apartment were living in Prague, helping the new Czech government in the country’s transition from communism to democracy. She was working alongside then-President Vaclav Havel on Czech-U.S. and Czech-NATO relations, and he was heading the East West Institute, a think tank and consulting organization dedicated to democratic economic and political reforms. The seven-year immersion in Old World architecture apparently left an impression. “When we moved back here,” the think tanker said, “we wanted to look for an apartment that would have the same architectural details and graciousness of the places we were living in in Europe.” They settled first, happily, at a European spread at 50 Riverside Drive. But with the addition of their first child, they decided to look for some more breathing room, and set off on what became a year-long, Manhattan-wide search with independent broker Katie Rodgers. As before, they insisted on finding a pre-war apartment with Old World European details. They found just the thing in this pre-war seven-room spread. It has about 1,700 square feet, separate living and dining rooms, and a windowed kitchen. “We still get to live that lifestyle that we learned to love in Europe,” said the father.
303 East 57th Street
One-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bathroom co-op.
Asking: $375,000. Selling: $350,000.
Maintenance: $1850; 14 percent tax-deductible.
Time on the market: three months.
IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO There are plenty of ways to scare off potential purchasers of an apartment: leaky pipes, tiny closets, noisy neighbors. But in this case, it turned out to be the sellers themselves. An Upper East Side broker, who asked not to be identified, had the exclusive on this estate-sale apartment at the Excelsior, a land-lease building overlooking the East River. It used to belong to a woman who ran an antique-jewelry store in midtown, but because it was now vacant, the broker had gotten carte blanche from the owner’s family to show the apartment at all hours. So when one interested couple said that they wanted to check out the 1,300-square-foot spread at 11 p.m. one night, the broker readily agreed and took them for a late-night tour. The walk-through was proceeding well-if uneventfully-when the touring trio threw open the doors to the master bedroom and startled a slumbering couple. At this, the broker and her clients ran out of the room, stammering apologies in their wake. It turned out the late owner’s son and his girlfriend had dropped by for the night to pack up some family belongings. “Not in their dreams did they think anyone would be showing the apartment at that time,” the broker said. “It was kind of embarrassing, to say the least.” She didn’t try to make formal contact with them that night, waiting instead until the next day to make another apology. Happily, the son and his girlfriend didn’t have any hard feelings-but as for the broker’s clients, it was sayonara . “They were a little spooked,” she said. “I never heard from them again.” Luckily for the broker, she found a pair of takers in a couple who lived in the building and wanted to upgrade. He’s a consultant for an investment firm, and she’s an interior designer who will have her work cut out for her, since the apartment was in estate-sale condition-a nice way of saying that it needs just about everything.