Collars Up at 640 Park as J. Crew Chief Buys $20 M. Co-op! Up the Street, $12.5 M. Sale in Coop that Rejected Imelda Marcos

J. Crew chief executive Millard Drexler recently signed a contract for a full-floor apartment in the exclusive 640 Park Avenue co-op for $20 million, according to sources close to the deal.

Of course, before he unpacks those striped oxford shirts and broken-in chinos, Mr. Drexler must still pass the discerning co-op board before moving into this tony prewar building.

If all goes well, current owners Jonathan and Caroline Sack-who purchased the apartment less than four years ago-should expect to make a hefty profit. The couple bought the 18-room, full-floor apartment in June 2001 for $11.7 million. At the time of the purchase, the apartment included four bedrooms, six bathrooms, a maid’s quarters and four fireplaces. The Sacks have made some improvements, including renovating the kitchen and installing a powder room, according to real-estate sources. Mr. Sack is an attorney in Manhattan; his wife Caroline is the daughter of banker Philip Sassower and the granddaughter of the late Max Oppenheimer. The Sacks could not be reached for comment.

Architect J.E.R. Carpenter designed 640 Park Avenue-one of over 20 luxury apartment buildings he created that majestically line both Park and Fifth avenues on the Upper East Side. The distinct Seventh Regiment Armory-complete with towers, a red brick façade and granite trim-sits impressively across the street at 643 Park Avenue.

Built in 1914, the apartment building was converted to a co-op in 1946, and has been relatively low-key-notwithstanding a famous battle that occurred in the late 1970′s. The co-op board rejected Saudi Arabian Prince Saud al-Faisal after he attempted to purchase an 18-room apartment (for only $600,000!). Co-op boards have notoriously been reluctant to admit diplomats. Being a foreign minister, Mr. al-Faisal had friends in high places to try and plead his cause. Former Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Senator Jacob Javits tried in vain to convince the board to reconsider.

Broker Kathleen Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens represented Mr. Drexler and declined to comment. Nancy Elias of Brown Harris Stevens represented the Sacks and also declined to comment. The private listing for the luxurious residence was never placed on the company’s Web site, catching brokers off guard that it came and apparently left the market. Depending on the board’s decision, the lavish apartment may be available again.

Millard Drexler joined J. Crew Group Inc. as chairman and chief executive in January 2003. He was formerly the C.E.O. of rival apparel company Gap Inc., where he worked in various positions for almost two decades. Mr. Drexler was contacted via e-mail, but declined to comment.

Just one block north, at 660 Park Avenue, a contract has been signed on another prized Upper East Side apartment. The 4,600-square-foot residence first listed at $12.5 million in February of this year. Listing broker Amanda Cannon of Stribling and Associates confirmed that a contract was recently signed, but declined to comment any further on the purchase.

The apartment features 13-foot ceilings, two wood-burning stoves and a library. The storied Italian Renaissance–style building was built in 1927 by architectural firm York and Sawyer.

And for a buyer in need of last-minute fashion tips, there is an added amenity-the apartment is conveniently located one floor below style icon Oscar de la Renta. Many other notable tenants have lived in the 12-story luxury building, including philanthropist Leslie R. Samuels and industrialist Seton Porter. Last summer, Susan Bloomberg, the Mayor’s ex-wife, split from the 13th-floor penthouse.

In 1981, Imelda Marcos-the Philippine’s former First Lady and an avid shoe-collector-reportedly tried to get into the exclusive co-op. She wanted the building’s most renowned maisonette, a 21-room triplex with its own entrance, but ran into problems with the board.

Cornelia Zagat Eland, also of Stribling and Associates, did not return calls for comment.

Upper East Side

360 East 88th Stree Three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo. Asking: $1.395. Selling: $1.26 million. Charges: $902; taxes: $12,420. Time on the market: four months.

SICK BUILDING   The buyers of this 1,350-square-foot luxury condo desired more than just panoramic views-they wanted a sense of community. Their young son was busy scouting the Leighton House’s basketball court before the ink dried on the contract. “It’s a really family-oriented building,” said exclusive broker Mark Sebastian of Prudential Douglas Elliman. The husband works in the fashion industry, and has a keen eye for design. The buyers already plan to knock down a wall in order to open up the corner apartment’s L-shaped living room; it’s ideal for entertaining, with guests privy to spectacular south and west exposures from over 30 floors up. “The views are sick,” said Mr. Sebastian, who also represented the sellers-both of whom work in the entertainment industry and are moving elsewhere in Manhattan. Built in 1989, the 47-story Leighton House features a health club, children’s playground, full-time doorman and concierge.

Chelsea

148 West 23rd Street Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op. Asking: $925,000. Selling: $915,000. Charges: $2,027; taxes: 50 percent tax-deductible. Time on the market: three weeks.

THE FRIENDLY DOORMAN  After having their first child, the sellers of this prewar co-op bought an adjacent studio and knocked down the wall. Now they’ve given up on these resourceful ploys for more space and are doing it the old-fashioned way-by buying across the Hudson in New Jersey. This combined unit in the Chelsea Mews did not linger long on the market; it was snatched up in three weeks by a neurologist who was renting in Brooklyn. “He liked the high ceilings and the amount of light,” said senior associate broker Ehsan Valipay of Manhattan Apartments Inc. Mr. Valipay represented the buyer, who he said desired a place in “the heart of Chelsea.” Built in 1920, and situated in the historic Ladies’ Mile district where large department stores once flourished, this 12-story Gothic Revival building was converted to a residential co-op in 1985. It features a roof garden, laundry facilities on each floor and a 24-hour doorman and concierge. “It’s the friendliest doorman in Chelsea,” said sales associate Peter Cohen, also of Manhattan Apartments Inc., who represented the sellers. The 1,500-square-foot apartment includes 12-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, Shoji screens and a formal dining room.