The third floor of The Plaza is known as the “State Suite,” which could be because it’s about the same size as Rhode Island.
At 9,350 square feet, the L-shaped apartment spans the whole length of Eloise’s legendary reststop, with 110 feet of Central Park South skyline viewed through windows reaching almost the full height of the 13-foot ceilings. Once the extravagant reception rooms of the storied former hotel, the 14-room apartment, which can entertain up to 500 people, is the largest in the landmark condo conversion.
Apartments of this maximum occupancy level don’t come along every day, which might explain Stribling‘s $39 million asking price when the apartment went back on the market last September. But that was mere Cracker Jacks compared to the $45 million that faulty Italian businessman Luigi Zunino planned to pay for the spread until the unfortunate financial hiccup whereby, at closing time, he couldn’t muster the millions. Mr. Zunino, who put $9 million into renovating and combining three units into one, hoped to resell the apartment for $100 million, but his inability to actually close on the original purchase somewhat stickied that plan.
Now, six months after the apartment’s relisting and $9 million off that listing price, the State Suite has closed for $28 million to an undisclosed foreign buyer. A. Laurance Kaiser, of Key Ventures Real Estate, co-represented the buyer with his associate Craig M. Dix. Though bound by a non-disclosure agreement regarding the identity of the buyers, Mr. Kaiser did expound with enthusiasm on the apartment itself, telling The Observer matter-of-factly, “It’s just the most spectacular apartment you’ve ever seen. There’ll never be another like it, it just doesn’t exist. It’s drop-dead.”
“There are no interior rooms. Nothing is on the shaft; all of them are outside rooms!,” he added. A fact described slightly more pretentiously in the listing as, “rooms arranged en enfilade along Central Park and Grand Army Plaza.”
Mr. Dix, Mr. Kaiser’s associate, spoke about the successful sale in more general terms. “There is certainly a renewed interest in New York real estate,” he said, “especially from foreign buyers whose currency is devaluing against the dollar. I think they want to make an investment in the States in something tangible, and this seems like a really good time to do it.
The sale is quite a coup for the depressed Plaza, whose headline-making abilities of late have been restricted to fuming basement retailers and dissatisfied condo owners. But Mr. Dix assures us timing is everything. “It may be that people who initially bought into that building with an expectation of where the market was going are unhappy with how things turned out, but, in my opinion, there are great deals to be negotiated at the moment. It’s an icon of New York; foreigners love that; you can mail a letter to your Aunt ‘care of The Plaza’ from anywhere in the world and it will get there!”