Rent the Love Den of Monica Lewinsky’s Mom!

Upper East Side


If there’s one thing Marcia Lewis, mother of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, must have taught her daughter, it’s how to position herself well. Ms. Lewis, an aspiring gossip reporter and ex-wife of a Beverly Hills oncologist, acquired two starter apartments in the most ambitious locations when she transferred herself to the East Coast. There’s the infamous one in the posh (even if karmically radioactive) Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., where her daughter remains under siege. The other was a one-bedroom apartment at 800 Fifth Avenue (floor plan below), a rental building on the corner of East 61st Street. Since Ms. Lewis married radio station magnate and Democratic Party stalwart R. Peter Straus in April, she’s vacated the Fifth Avenue apartment-you can rent it for $4,200 a month.

Eight-hundred Fifth Avenue, built in 1978, is alternately described as probably “the most expensive rental building in the city” and “a Third Avenue building on Fifth Avenue.” In any case, it is distinguished by its three-story limestone faux-facade-and is one of the only places you can have that Fifth Avenue address while dodging the withering gaze of a co-op board. Historically, brokers say, it’s been a stashing ground for third wives and other wealthy but socially shaky types. Ms. Lewis’ three-room apartment is in the back of the building, so you don’t get a park view. But you do get a balcony.

Now, how to tell Monica it’s time to grow up and get a place of her own.

Upper East Side

400 East 85th Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot postwar co-op.

Asking; $339,000. Selling: $326,500.

Charges: $1,323; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: two months.

CATS MOVE TO 85TH STREET. “She wanted-definitely-outdoor space,” said broker Hiyam El-Hajj of the woman who bought this apartment, who already lived nearby. Actually, it was her cats who really wanted it. This apartment is bigger than her old place, but near enough that she won’t need to get to know a new dry cleaner and deli owner and vet. Plus, with the 22-foot-wide setback terrace, there’s plenty of sunny-day cat lounging space. The building is a white-brick postwar, and the apartment is in pretty good shape. It has open city views west, with north and south views from the terrace. And best of all, the price was right. Broker: Bellmarc Realty (Hiyam El-Hajj); Halstead Property Company (Judy Saunders).

22 East 78th Street

Five-bed, four-bath, 5,250-square-foot town house.

Asking: $2.95 million. Selling: $2.65 million.

Time on the market: four months.

MAKING ARCHITECTURE SAFE FOR WALL STREETERS. Back in 1871, one Silas M. Styles, architect and builder, erected a row of narrow Italianate brownstones on spec on this block. Only two remain-this one and the one next door. In the 1940’s, this 15-foot-wide house was cut up into 10 apartments, but a couple of years ago an investment group called the Lavin Brothers bought it and renovated it. The company did something similar with houses at 114 East 65th Street and 239 East 48th Street. After a year of work, the house re-emerged with six fireplaces, a new roof and four-zone air conditioning. The buyers are, of course, Wall Streeters, who plan to polish it up a bit further before they move in. Broker: Massey Knakal Realty Services Inc. (Paul J. Massey Jr.).

Upper West Side

11 West 69th Street

One-bed, one-bath, 1,050-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $395,000. Selling: $380,000.

Maintenance: $1,254; 45 percent tax-deductible.

THE NUTTY (BEIGE) PROFESSOR. A professor at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus heard about a bidding war going on just above her and got an idea. She approached broker John Caraccioli, who had the exclusive on the upstairs apartment, in her lobby and said that she was considering selling her apartment in about a year and a half. She didn’t want to move until the school year was out. Mr. Caraccioli told the young couple who’d been jilted by the people upstairs of the news. They loved the building, which is brick, charming and intimate-only nine floors on a block full of brownstones-and dates from the 1920’s. The only thing is, the professor’s unit was renovated peculiarly back in the 1970’s, turning it from a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment, like the one they lost out on, into a one-bedroom with a huge living room and bathroom. The moldings were carted off, and the wood floors were covered with cheap parquet. Everything ended up beige. But the couple saw through all of this, and decided they could renovate it back to the way it was-like the apartment that got away on the next floor. They got it for $50,000 less than the already mint apartment; the difference will go into the restoration. Broker: Halstead (John Caraccioli).

East Village

114 East 13th Street (Felt Building)

One-bed, one-bath, 942-square-foot condo loft.

Asking: $399,000. Selling: $383,000.

Charges: $726. Taxes: $469.

Time on the market: four months.

THE LAST DAYS OF ANYTHING FREE. In the 1980’s, coked-up yuppies (when the word was new and meaningful) in Cerutti 1881 suits danced their early 30’s away at the Palladium on East 14th Street; Union Square was dark and littered at night; and The Village Voice squatted in a now-demolished building at the bottom of the square. At that time, the Felt Building was a sort of edgy luxury loft conversion for the area. Located on the block behind the old nightclub, and down the street from The Voice , its location turned out to be prescient. The buyer of this eighth-floor condominium is a sound engineer who wanted to live in a large open space in this area that he could renovate to his liking. This apartment hadn’t really been upgraded since it was new, and his deciding to buy it when he did turned out to be pretty prescient, too. His apartment has 12-foot-high ceilings and an inspiring view of the Con Edison building’s lit-at-night Beaux Arts clock tower and the tenements of the East Village. In the midst of his purchase, the building voted to allow owners of certain units to install balconies; his was one of them. He’d already negotiated the price, so the seller couldn’t use the balcony possibility as an excuse to jack up the price. Broker: Corcoran Group (Frank Percesepe).


181 Hudson Street

One-bed, two-bath, 2,100-square-foot prewar condo.

Asking: $1.1 million. Selling: $965,000.

Charges: $398. Taxes: $558.

Time on the market: six months.

ARCHITECT SURVEYS VESTRY STREET FROM VESTRY STREET. The entrance to this loft building, a former newspaper printing facility, is really on Vestry Street. But back 15 years ago when it was a pioneering conversion in the derelict 19th-century industrial precincts south of Canal Street, who’d ever heard of Vestry? Now the area is riddled with conversions-195 Hudson Street is being honeycombed with condo lofts, and so is 71 Murray Street, around the corner, and it’s a couple of blocks from the Dietz Lantern Building conversion that sold out last year. Even as late as 1992, broker Glenn Schiller sold this apartment, which has 16-foot-high ceilings, a big skylight, a mezzanine level, and views across to Hoboken and down to the World Trade Center-not to mention a 1,400-square-foot private roof deck with a Jacuzzi-for only $499,000. The owner has been renting it out for the last couple of years to an architect; meanwhile, it has been on and off the market. About six months ago, the owner got serious about selling it. The architect did the numbers and decided that it made more sense to buy it. The building has eight floors, with four units on each; every unit has a private storage room in the hallway. The bottom three floors are commercial condominiums, and the ground floor was most recently occupied by a Transit Police station. The architect has big plans to redo the place; he may even build up on the roof. Broker: Corcoran (Glenn Schiller).

Brooklyn Heights

70 Remsen Street

Two-bed, two-bath, 1,250-square-foot prewar co-op.

Asking: $450,000. Selling: $395,000.

Maintenance: $1,684; 60 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one month.

HISTORIC TERRACE CONVERTED TO DOGHOUSE. I don’t think there are more than two other terraces like it in the Heights,” said broker Lisa Beck, of this co-op’s classic adornment. She then paused to consider this. “And those aren’t as nice.” The terrace wraps around this 11th-floor penthouse, affording views from the Statue of Liberty to Park Slope. It’s as large as the apartment itself. Which is fortunate for one of the apartment’s new residents: a boxer named Edna. The couple who bought the apartment joked: “We bought a park for Edna,” said the broker. But that’s just the happy ending. When the couple, both lawyers, first started looking, it was in the $300,000 range. They were thinking along the lines of a two-bedroom brownstone floor-through apartment. But nothing came along that they liked, and the one in their price range they did bid on didn’t work out. So they decided to start looking at rentals and had a bit more luck. They found one on the promenade with a water view, but the owner kept stalling on necessary repairs, so they walked away from it. Then, not far away, they found a parlor-floor unit with 16-foot-high ceilings and all the filigree you could ask for-a decorative esthetic that they described as being somewhere between Edwardian and Victorian-but the owners got all wishy-washy about Edna. They offered to set up a meeting with Edna, beef up their deposit and even go on a month-to-month lease, but no cigar. By that time, their mortgage banker had cleared them to borrow $500,000. Which surprised them; they didn’t realize they were doing that well. So they called back Ms. Beck and said, ‘You got half a million bucks to work with, go crazy.’ This penthouse had just gone on the market. It was in “estate condition,” as brokers say; a woman had lived there for many years. They saw it, loved it, but considering the amount of work it needed, only offered $375,000. When other, higher offers came in, they upped that to $395,000 and were all ready to sign a contract when someone came in throwing around even more cash. So the estate, which included a guy from their bank, said, Come down here in an hour and close it, and it’s yours. So they did, as much for Edna’s sake as for their own. Broker: William B. May Real Estate (Lisa Beck). Rent the Love Den of Monica Lewinsky’s Mom!