Some months back, James Lansill, a senior managing director at the Corcoran Sunshine group told us that a good number of buyers at the Brodsky Organization’s luxe, ultra-popular 135 East 79th Street condo tower were highly sophisticated empty-nesters from the neighborhood looking to downsize. Not so Michael Gross, the 51-year-old CEO of Solar Capital—a financial firm specializing in debt and investments in leveraged companies—who has just paid $22.45 million for one of the building’s two 17th-floor penthouses, according to city records. (The lone available listing in the new building, which inspired a feeding frenzy last year, is currently asking $22.35 million; Mr. Gross’s pad, slightly larger than the yet-unspoken-for unit, was last listed for $23.5 million.)
With the building’s highest closing price to date (a 9,000 square-foot combination last listed for $50 million has yet to close), the condo is a sprawling duplex of 5,334 square feet. Beyond its stately limestone-and-brick facade are a formal dining room and bar, a library and a foyer sufficiently gracious to justify furniture. Herringbone white-oak floors, custom trim and casings, and a much-touted William Sofield design are on display here, as well as throughout the building. A private, south-facing terrace and a hand-painted kitchen by Christopher Peacock offer forums suitable to both post-bonus cigars and domestic culinary adventures. (Finance types these days—they’re not all steakhouses and smoking jackets anymore.)
Last year, as local oldsters scooped up units at 135 East 79th before the building had even been completed, other buyers, eager to move their children nearer posh private schools, planned to migrate uptown from the island’s southern reaches. (Ahh, the circle of life.) Mr. Gross’s relative youth makes him a likelier member of the latter group, but he, too, will enjoy easy shuttling from his shiny new place. Solar Capital makes its home at 500 Park Avenue, an address with something of a storied corporate history, known variously as the Pepsi Cola building, the Olivetti building and a home of the Walt Disney Company. Pepsi and Disney, of course, are kids stuff—and typewriters better suited to the Brooklyn set, to which Mr. Gross most assuredly does not belong. But a two-stop daily subway commute? That is the sort of practical pleasure a businessman of Mr. Gross’s stature can appreciate.
Then again, the car service companies probably know the Solar offices pretty well by now, and no-doubt, before long, they will also know the well-heeled residents of 135 East 79th.