Fund-raising Fatigue: High-powered Political Events Bring Luminaries, Hassle For Neighbors

Special, and labor-intensive. In the run-up to such a visit, Secret Service agents shut down nearby streets and sidewalks, snarling traffic and banishing the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Cars and Suburbans forever idling in front of upscale buildings. Mailboxes and trash cans are removed (to reduce the hazard of hidden bombs), residents must show IDs at the street corners and roof access is restricted. Although, with helicopters buzzing overhead, the rooftop becomes a perch that only an assassin could enjoy.

“I’m lucky to live in a building with supportive neighbors,” Mr. Kovner told us. “The Secret Service is there almost a week in advance, checking out the whole building. On the day of the event, they had a police dog come and sniff every apartment, and people had to walk through a magnetometer.”
At 720 Park Avenue, big-time democratic donors Carl Spielvogel and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel’s endless rounds of fund-raising parties were notorious for annoying the couple’s neighbors. “I find it very creepy to have men with guns in the lobby,” one fed-up neighbor told a reporter in 2001. “Besides, anything to keep the Clintons out.”

John E. Beerbower, the former board president of 720 Park Avenue, who lived in the co-op from 1988 to 2006, doesn’t remember the Spielvogels’ parties as being a particular problem compared with other aspects of communal living.

“I think we probably had more issues with people’s dogs,” Mr. Beerbower said, although he admitted that having the Secret Service combing through the building’s stairwells and halls “did raise issues about the inconveniences of other residents.”

“Let me put it this way,” he said. “The Secret Service are not known for their good nature. They barely smile, so it’s kind of a somber thing when these guys are standing around.”

While admitting that such affairs can be a terrible imposition, a number of brokers said that people who move into addresses like 740 Park, 1 Beekman Place or the Beresford ought to know that high-profile visitors come with the rarified real estate.

“Isn’t that the price you pay for being in a high-priced building? I know buildings where residents get pissed off with having clipboard people in the lobby, but you have to know that comes with the territory,” reflected Michael Gross, the author 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building. “There’s more people with more money and that would attract more people like beetles to the dung,” he added. “My impression is that whereas Andy Warhol would go to the opening of any envelope, any candidate will go to the opening of a checkbook, as long as the checkbook is big enough.”

“These days, there are so many fund-raisers and political things going on, I don’t think tenants are going to be thrilled to shake the hand of the person coming in, especially if they’re not invited,” remarked A. Larry Kaiser IV, president of brokerage Key-Ventures Inc. “Fund-raisers are becoming larger, and building policies are getting stiffer and stiffer. Buildings want to know how many and how long. Some of these things can go on for six hours. I think what’s going to happen in the future, if it hasn’t happened already, is that board members are going to ask prospective buyers, ‘Do you entertain? Do you entertain a lot?’”