Simmons’ New Deal

022006 article transfer Simmons’ New DealFor hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, selling his 7,000-square-foot duplex on Liberty Street hasn’t been easy. In 2001, Sean (Diddy) Combs was reportedly in contract to purchase the penthouse apartment for $5 million, just prior to Sept. 11.

Located directly across the street from where the towers fell, Mr. Simmons’ apartment suffered extensive damage: The windows were blown out, filling the sprawling apartment with debris and shattered glass.

Once featured on MTV Cribs, where Mr. Simmons and his wife, Kimora Lee, showed off the luxurious residence, the place needed plenty of renovations. Being a nice guy, Mr. Simmons let Diddy out of the contract.

However, Mr. Simmons and his family had already relocated to a sprawling 20-room mansion in Saddle River, N.J., so the apartment was sitting empty for several years.

But in May 2005, Mr. Simmons was ready to give the real-estate market another try, this time offering the 101¼2-room apartment at $11 million, listed with Lisa Maysonet and Gary Kabol of Prudential Douglas Elliman. But a couple price cuts followed. In June, it dropped to $10 million, followed by another decrease to $8.2 million in October, as reported by The Observer.

And now Mr. Simmons is once again hoping to attract high-end buyers by offering the apartment at $7.2 million. (It’s getting closer and closer to the price that Diddy almost snatched it up for in 2001.)

So what’s the motivation behind the third price drop in the past nine months?

“We’ve gotten offers to rent the penthouse for $40,000 to $50,000 per month, but that’s not in the cards,” said Ms. Maysonet, a senior vice president and founder of Group Maysonet.

“Instead, we decided that we could move towards a sale either by enhancing the property through staging and furnishing, as the apartment is very large and empty, or by enhancing the price a little more. And, we went for the latter strategy.”

The duplex penthouse includes four bedrooms, four and a half baths, two eat-in kitchens, a dining room, a laundry room, a library with wood-burning fireplace, and several walk-in closets (where Russell and Kimora kept their extensive wardrobes). In addition, there are 40 windows, with four exposures.

For summer barbeques, there’s a 4,000-square-foot exterior space with three terraces. The exceptional views should be enhanced as development returns to Ground Zero, which appears to be a potential stumbling block in selling this condo.

East of Lexington

Last month, Frances Kazan—the widow of On the Waterfront director and name-namer Elia Kazan—sold the family’s 95th Street townhouse for $4.6 million, according to deed-transfer records.

In 1986, director Kazan purchased the four-story townhouse in Carnegie Hill, a neighborhood that at different times has been home to screen gods Woody Allen, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, and Mary Tyler Moore. He lived there until September 2003, when he passed away at age 94.

Located between Third and Lexington avenues, the quaint residence first came on the market in April 2005, listed for $4.95 million with broker Jane Andrews of Warburg Realty. Six months later, the price was reduced to $4.75 million, and that must’ve done the trick. On Nov. 15, a contract was signed, with the deal closing a little over two months later.

The 18-foot-wide townhouse includes an eat-in kitchen with full pantry, a family room and living room with fireplaces, and a spacious dining room. Other features include floor-to-ceiling bookcases, parquet floors and high ceilings.

The master bedroom receives ample sunlight, and includes French doors that lead to a south terrace overlooking the landscaped garden. The townhouse also includes five additional bedrooms.

Ms. Kazan is most recently the author of Halide’s Gift, a novel set in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. Currently traveling, she couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

Ms. Andrews also couldn’t be reached for comment. Judith McKay Durham, of Stribling and Associates, represented the buyer and declined to comment.

The Glamour Glut

Recently, there has been plenty of excitement over at some of the top Manhattan co-ops, where inventory is rarely available. At this time, there are exquisite apartments either on the market or under contract at 720, 730, and 740 Park Avenue.

But over at 998 Fifth Avenue—regarded as the city’s first grand apartment building to attract wealthy New Yorkers away from townhouses—a very big deal is underway, too.

A $21.9 million residence, formerly owned by the late Yolande Fielding-Scheftel, has recently gone to contract.

Opened in 1912, the Italian Renaissance–revival building quickly became a haven for many prominent individuals, including financier Murry Guggenheim, Nobel Prize–winning diplomat Elihu Root, and former U.S. Vice President and Governor of New York Levi P. Morton.

For over 50 years, Fielding-Scheftel resided in the building’s third-largest apartment, which comprises 18 rooms, including a spacious master-bedroom suite and three additional bedrooms, and features three fireplaces and hardwood flooring.

In late August, she passed away at the age of 85, and the apartment was put on the market two months later.

Meredyth Hull Smith, of Sotheby’s International Realty, has the listing.