Park Avenue to Gerry Ferraro: Mind the Terra Cotta, Please!

When erstwhile Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro

decided to build a swimming pool on the property of her Fire Island summer home

in 1988-claiming that, as a celebrity, she wasn’t getting enough privacy at the

local public beach in Saltaire-her preservation-minded neighbors in the small,

exclusive community raised the roof. Ultimately, celebrity-and a good deal of

wrangling on Ms. Ferraro’s part-proved successful, and she got her way in 1990.

Now, the feisty former Congresswoman from Queens is at it again

on the Upper East Side. Ms. Ferraro wants to install three through-the-wall

air-conditioning units in a Manhattan pied-à-terre

she wants to purchase with her husband, real-estate developer John Zaccaro, on

the 14th floor of the Beekman Hotel at 575 Park Avenue. Normally such an

alteration would pose little problem, but the neo-Renaissance building-designed

in 1926 by George Fred Pelham, once the home of actor Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,

and currently housing a ground-floor three-room editing suite used by director

Woody Allen-is landmarked, meaning that before Ms. Ferraro starts drilling, she

needs approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Standing between Ms. Ferraro and a green light on the project is

the terra-cotta trim lining the building’s façade. Ms. Ferraro’s application

calls for drilling through the terra cotta, and although she’s pledged to paint

the exterior of the air-conditioners the same color as the tan façade, some

local neighbors gave the plan a cold reception.

“Whether they’re just walking around on the street or some person

of prominence, allowing anybody to destroy terra cotta sets a bad precedent,”

said a member of Upper East Side Community Board 8, which reviewed Ms.

Ferraro’s application on Jan. 16 and approved it by a 19-15 vote.

“I’m a person who’s been in politics a long time, and I can

understand. The community-planning boards are doing us all a favor by trying to

keep the buildings in this city beautiful,” said Ms. Ferraro after the meeting.

“Some did not agree with our position. Fortunately the majority did, and that’s

why we have these things.”

But the Landmarks Preservation Commission has the final say on

the proposal. At its Jan. 22 meeting, the commission declined to make a ruling

until 575 Park revisits the master plan and reconsiders the issue of messing

with the terra cotta itself.

The Beekman Hotel’s master plan currently allows for

through-the-wall air-conditioning units as long as they don’t interfere with

the façade’s terra-cotta trim, and although numerous owners of those apartments

have penetrated this sacred barrier, they were fortunate to squeeze their

air-conditioners in before the building was granted landmark status in 1981.

Landmarks Preservation chairwoman Sherida Paulsen said, “The ball

is in their court.”

upper east side

Sharpton’s lawyer wants $11 million

When the Reverend Al Sharpton was released from a Brooklyn jail

last year-some 30 pounds lighter-after serving 90 days for protesting American

missile-testing on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, he went directly to a

Manhattan penthouse apartment on the 42nd floor of the Royale at 188 East 64th

Street. He was greeted by Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons,

Representative Charles Rangel and a number of other supporters who’d paid

between $1,000 and $5,000 to attend the event, as well as his lawyer, Sanford

Rubenstein, who was hosting the party in his apartment.

Several months later, Mr. Rubenstein-who also

represented Abner Louima and Hisham Amer, the taxi driver who claimed he was

beaten up by taxi inspectors and sued the city for $45 million last year-has

put that apartment on the market for $11 million. According to city records,

Mr. Rubenstein bought the five-bedroom penthouse-which has double-height

ceilings in the living room, a fireplace and panoramic views of the city-in

August of 1996 for $2.15 million.

“It is ridiculously overpriced,” said one source

familiar with the building. “It’s absurd.”

Mr. Rubenstein’s broker, Rob Sussman of Goodstein

Realty N.Y.C., said that the apartment hasn’t been shown much, since he and Mr.

Rubenstein are trying to ensure that only qualified buyers take a peek.

Mr. Sussman wouldn’t discuss whether or not Mr.

Rubenstein is looking for another place in the city, but the lawyer does have

homes in Bridgehampton and in Rockland County.

upper west side


Riverside Drive


two-and-a-half-bath, 1,800-square-foot co-op.


$1.150 million. Selling: $1.075 million.


$1,237; 30 percent tax-deductible.


on the market: one day.


NEIGHBORHOOD “It was a great space in a wonderful building, but we were

concerned it was in the wrong location,” said broker Jim Perez of the Halstead

Property Company, about this apartment in a 1930’s building near 104th Street

which had been renovated in the style of a Soho loft. Although three bedrooms

had been sectioned off, the living room, dining room and kitchen were all part

of one large living space. Mr. Perez said the loft-like feel deterred several

people who came to the open house he held in August. “Most of the people who

came to see it just couldn’t get their heads around it, because it was so

radical for the neighborhood,” he said. One person wasn’t deterred, however: An

architect who’d had a few deals fall through on other apartments in the

neighborhood made a full-price offer on the spot. After Sept. 11, he negotiated

the price down a bit, but the loft-like feel may have really worked for the

architect. According to Mr. Perez, he intends to keep the place-Central Park

and Hudson River views and all-as is.

upper east side


East 69th Street (the Trump Palace)






$3.65 million. Selling: $3.3 million.


$3,702. Taxes: $2,356.


on the market: eight months.


SIX YOU GET $3.3 MILLION In 1995, Société Générale, a French bank, bought

two apartments on the 20th floor of the Trump Palace, at 69th Street between

Second and Third avenues, for one of its senior employees. Altogether, the

3,417-square-foot, six-bedroom place-with an eat-in kitchen (the second kitchen

was turned into a laundry room), three balconies and a large terrace-was almost

large enough for his family. “They had six kids,” said broker Carol Staab of

Insignia Douglas Elliman. “And the oldest kid was 14!” When it came time to

return to France, the place went on the market, but the six kids made it a

little difficult to sell, said Ms. Staab. “The mother had very good control

over them, but sometimes I would show up with a buyer when they were all in

residence and it was pretty crazy, as you can imagine.” The layout of the

apartment also made things difficult. “It was awkward,” she said. “Not too many

people need six bedrooms.” The couple with one child who bought the place are

going to try to fill them, but they’ll also reconfigure some of the bedrooms-at

least for now. Who needs all that pressure?

greenwich village


Bleecker Street (Bleecker Court)

One-bed, one-bath, 750-square-foot co-op.


$395,000.  Selling: $370,000.


$1,038; 58 percent tax-deductible.


on the market: seven weeks.


101 Rosemary’s Baby immortalized the Dakota, Simon and Garfunkel made

the 59th Street Bridge musical history-and thanks to Jill Jones,

whocouldeverforget77 Bleecker Street? Well, in her 1987 song about the large

doorman building on the corner of Broadway, Ms. Jones-a former protégée of

Prince-did her best. But she’s obviously left the door wide open for the young

couple who bought this place to carry on the legend-making. Alex Nicholas and

Gabriella Winter, both of the Corcoran Group, brokered the deal.


kicks it up a notch buying instead of renting

When Emeril Lagasse’s sitcom was canned mid-season by

NBC in December, at least the chef hadn’t quit his day job. The spicy

restaurateur turned Food Network celebrity-with-an-exclamation-point was

wrapping up a batch of cooking shows-he hosts Emeril LIVE and Essence of

Emeril -at his West 52nd Street studio when the bad news came from


He was also signing a contract for a two-bedroom

apartment on the 33rd floor of the Bridge Tower condominium at 401 East 60th

Street, near the 59th Street Bridge, Guastavino’s and the Bridge Market.

“His two Food Network shows are in New York, and he spends a lot

of time there now,” said Mimi Rice, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lagasse.

Since last spring, the chef had been renting an

apartment in the building from a J.P. Morgan executive for $8,000 a month.

Brokers familiar with the deal say that earlier this month, he signed a

contract for just under $2 million. The doorman is thrilled. “He is much loved

by the building staff,” a neighbor said. “He makes great pork chops for the



An item in the Jan. 21 issue incorrectly stated that

Eric Rothfeld had made an offer to buy an apartment from the British government

at 4 East 66th Street. Park Avenue to Gerry Ferraro: Mind the Terra Cotta, Please!