Steven Kessner, a real estate magnate named by The Village Voice in June 2006 as one of “NYC’s 10 Worst Landlords,” has bought his son Robert a $1.395 million apartment at 300 East 85th Street, a tower called the America.
That’s a few eons south from East Harlem, where Mr. Kessner just sold off dozens of properties for around $225 million this year. Before that deal, Mr. Kessner called himself the biggest for-profit landowner in the neighborhood, and the Voice called him “a slumlord by choice. He knows how to make a building work, but sometimes he simply decides not to.”
A city housing official said his buildings had “thousands of housing maintenance code violations,” like Upton Sinclair-worthy moldy ceilings, and rusted-over sinks or busted stoves.
His son now has a “gourmet chef’s dream kitchen,” according to listing broker Paul Anand of Citi-Habitats, “featuring top of the line appliances.”
The America apartment has crown moldings, “two full marble baths,” plus a balcony with “the whole Manhattan postcard view.”
Robert confirmed via e-mail that he (and his girlfriend) would be living in the building, which luckily has a pool and a gym.
Real estate smarts are inborn: Robert is a broker for the family’s Vertical City Realty, so he represented his father on the deal. But because the apartment is for him, the elder Mr. Kessner only came in to “give his seal of approval.”
Robert ended up waiving his broker’s fee in order to win the apartment: There were other offers for the condo, like a bid for $1.425 million, though they were all through the bidders’ brokers—who are owed a commission from the seller if the sale succeeds. “So he’s like, ‘You know what? Forget it. I don’t want to lose the apartment,’” Mr. Anand recalled. “‘The seller doesn’t have to pay me a fee; we just want the apartment.’”
As an added bonus, the elder Mr. Kessner paid in cash, taking advantage of a tax exchange to roll income from that mammoth East Harlem sale into this paternal Upper East Side condo purchase. The lucky sellers, according to city records, are David Clary and Michaela Leopold.
When asked about the Voice exposé, Mr. Anand said: “He’s big into charity work now. So he’s giving back.”