Another Seller Takes a Loss at 823 Park Avenue

What's wrong with 823 Park?

What’s wrong with 823 Park?

Back in 2007 and 2008, buying at 823 Park Avenue seemed like the gold-standard of real estate investments. The newly-converted luxury condo on Park Avenue was a rare commodity in one of the city’s most rarefied neighborhoods. How could an investment in one of its sprawling floor-throughs go wrong?

But in the years since, resales at the building have  failed to fetch more than the first wave of owners paid.

Bedroom.

Maybe it’s just not a $15 million kind of building.

Of course, buying at heady prices (more than $4,000 a square foot) right before a global recession isn’t conducive to making good on one’s investment. But now the trophy market is back, and sellers are still losing money.

Take the recent sale of a full-floor residence that belonged to Joseph Oughourlian and Jennifer A. Banks. The couple paid $13.82 million for the five-bedroom, 4.5-bath sponsor unit in January 2008. Earlier this month, they sold it at a considerable loss—for $12.9 million—to private equity honcho Thomas Uger, according to city records.

Considering the other places that Mr. Oughourlian might have parked his money before the recession (for example, with Madoff), a $1 million loss isn’t the worst possible fate. But the couple had clearly hoped to do better when they listed the unit for $15 million with Corcoran’s Charlie Attias in August.

What’s more, Mr. Oughourlian’s apartment isn’t the only one at 823 Park that has given a less stellar performance the second time around.

There’s also the 10th-floor apartment, which was purchased for $13.8 million back in 2008 and sold for a mere $13 million this fall. And the duplex that spans the second and first floors, purchased for $20 million by UBS exec Ramesh Singh in 2008. It’s currently off-the-market, but was asking only $15 million last fall.

Like their neighbors, the Oughourlian Banks probably just miscalculated the market for lavish, 4,184-square-foot apartments with coffered ceilings, carved fireplaces, herringbone oak floors and mahogany-paneled libraries.

“That was the price we could get,” Mr. Attias said when The Observer reached him on the phone.

Why such a low price?

He hesitated, then admitted that it might have something to do with the fact that the unit first sold before the recession.”

It was, he added, a beautiful pre-war buliding, and beautiful pre-war buildings, particularly condo conversions, usually sell marvelously.

Just maybe not as marvelously as they did before the recession, when sinking a fat sum into a condo carried with it not only the promise of a place to live, but a potential jackpot.

kvelsey@observer.com