The Upper East Side home of the New York Academy of Sciences has gone into contract for close to $30 million, according to a source close to the deal. The buyer is 63rd Street LLC, a company established by Access Industries, a Manhattan-based private-equity investment firm.
Though a spate of townhouses that used to house offices or charitable foundations have been sold to private families in recent years, this building won’t be rehabbed for residential use. Access Industries would not say whether it intends to sell the property after renovation.
The buyers will “preserve as much of the history and character of the building as possible,” a source with knowledge of the deal said, before adding: “It needs to be updated and renovated extensively.”
The 75-foot-wide, four-story mansion at East 63rd Street was originally commissioned by William Ziegler, president of Royal Baking Powder, and built in 1919. In 1929, Norman Bailey Woolworth purchased the house and lived there with his family, before donating it to the New York Academy of Sciences in 1949.
The Academy originally put the building on the market in 2001, and the Emir of Qatar was reportedly going to purchase the property for $27 million that fall, but the deal eventually fell through.
The Academy hasn’t yet determined where they’ll relocate, according to Fred Moreno, the NYAS director of communications.
CB Richard Ellis represented the sellers. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.
NYAS president Ellis Rubinstein also declined to comment.
The chairman of Access Industries, Leonard Blavatnik, isn’t restricting himself to investment purchases. The investor and oil-and-gas mogul, who was listed at No. 87 on the Forbes 400 in 2004 with an estimated worth of $2.5 billion, signed a contract for a property at the star-studded San Remo on Central Park West, according to real-estate sources.
If he’s paying anywhere near the listing price of $23.5 million-as The Observer reported two weeks ago-it’ll be the most expensive apartment sale in Central Park West history.
Fashion Week may be over, but you can still get close to Oscar de la Renta for about $12.5 million. An apartment in the exclusive 660 Park Avenue co-op has opened up, one floor below the style maven, according to real-estate sources.
Originally built in 1927, the 4,600-square-foot home has 11 rooms, including a master suite along Park Avenue, a cloak room and a powder room. There are approximately 12-foot ceilings, two wood-burning stoves and a library. French doors lead to a planting balcony.
“It’s one of the grand buildings of New York, with great architectural detail,” said Laurance Kaiser, president of Key-Ventures Realty.
The fashionable residence has had its share of famous faces inside, or trying to get in. Imelda Marcos reportedly attempted to buy into the building in the early 1980’s, but was turned down. Last summer, Susan Bloomberg, the Mayor’s ex-wife, split from the 13th-floor penthouse.
Listing brokers Cornelia Zagat Eland and Amanda Cannon of Stribling and Associates did not return calls for comment.
A few blocks north, the East 69th Street estate of Jim Henson, a prime piece of real estate, is now back on the market. A deal on the neo-Georgian townhouse went to contract a month ago, but has fallen through. The 16,000-square-foot home is still listing at $12.4 million with Massey Knakal Realty Services.
The 40-foot-wide mansion was built in 1929 for the family of Beekman Winthrop. In 1951 it was converted for the New York State Pharmaceutical Association as a space for offices and lecture rooms. Most recently, it became home to the Jim Henson Company.
“There is sufficient interest in the property, keeping with the high-demand market,” said Paul Massey, founding partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services.
Albert Gottesman, the executor of the Henson estate, was unavailable for comment at press time.