The Princely Palazzo

Now that Stephen Siegel, the chairman and chief executive of Insignia/ESG, is preparing to move into the Park Avenue townhouse once sought by his boss, Andrew Farkas, he’s put his own place on the market for significantly less. An Insignia spokesman downplayed a New York Post report of a bidding war. “Stephen and Andrew were never bidding against eachother,” said Insignia spokesman Steven Iaco. “Andrew had a preliminary interest many months ago and later withdrew. Several months later, Mr. Spiegel became interested.”

Still, it was Mr. Spiegel’s higher bid on the 23-foot-wide limestone townhouse at 631 Park Avenue that won him the $12.7 million digs several months after Mr. Farkas placed a bid; and it’s Mr. Spiegel who now is selling.

If he’s still looking, Mr. Farkas-who has been the subject of criticism from some shareholders decrying his use of corporate funds for boating and plane trips-may want to consider Mr. Siegel’s apartment, on the market now for $4.75 million. The duplex unit spans the eighth and ninth floors of 130 East 67th Street, a 12-story Italian Renaissance palazzo-style building on the corner of Lexington Avenue. The apartment has three bedrooms (including a spacious master suite), three-and-a-half bathrooms, and a maid’s room and bath. The recently renovated 4,300-square-foot apartment also has a library, a formal dining room, a custom-designed eat-in kitchen, four wood-burning fireplaces and a laundry room.

The new buyer will have to pay 50 percent down and a monthly maintenance charge of $5,075.

The apartment only hit the market yesterday, so few, if any, besides real-estate agents have had a chance to tour the property. But brokers had less-than-charitable things to say about the building’s location.

“It’s dogland,” said one veteran Upper East Side broker. “You’ve a fire house, a police station, Hunter College and then the Armory.”

Rebecca Steindecker, of Insignia Douglas Elliman, the listing broker for Mr. Siegel’s co-op, didn’t return calls for comment.

In June 2002, Crain’s New York Business named Mr. Siegel one of the 100 most influential business leaders in New York City. From his perch atop Insignia/ESG, he plays a make-or-break role in the selling and leasing of some of the city’s most desirable commercial addresses. Under his tenure, the company brokered such mega-transactions as J.P. Morgan Chase’s 1.3-million-square-foot acquisition at 277 Park Avenue, and MetLife’s 1.44-million-square-foot berth at 1 Madison Avenue. Mr. Siegel was previously the president of Insignia/ESG’s predecessor company, the Edward S. Gordon Company, which the Insignia Financial Group bought in 1996 for $74 million.


151 East 83rd Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $425,000. Selling: $415,000.

Maintenance: $693; 49 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: one day.

DELUXE APARTMENT IN THE SKY A single woman in her late 20’s had been renting at a high-rise building at 185 East 85th Street-the building featured in the title credits of the 1970’s television show The Jeffersons -but decided it was time to move on up. After dissolving her portfolio of tech stocks, she started canvassing co-op buildings in the posh neighborhood-but unlike many New Yorkers looking for apartments, she kept her search quiet. “She didn’t want to run the risk of embarrassment, had she not gotten past the co-op board,” said her broker, Sarah Steinberg, a sales associate at Ashforth Warburg. “It’s kind of like public humiliation if you get turned down.” Nor was Ms. Steinberg taking any chances: The broker-whose mother and father are Renee Bross and Richard Steinberg, veterans of Ashforth Warburg themselves-checked with her family about the co-op board at a building where a brother and sister had put their second-floor pied-à-terre on the market. In no time, the accommodating board approved her, and she’s already at work picking out Pierre Deux toile fabrics.


229 East 49th Street

Four-story townhouse.

Asking: $2.7 million. Selling: $2.45 million.

Taxes: $32,000.

Time on the market: eight months.

YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY When his elderly mother became ill, a nonpracticing real-estate broker decided to move to Wisconsin so he could be there at her side. First, he sold off a four-story townhouse he owned elsewhere in the city, and then he listed this five-story, five-unit townhouse (where he was living on the first floor). The brownstone building’s front yard has a small garden with a maple tree, and the back garden had a bird bath-but that went with the owner to Wisconsin. After a sleepy summer-i.e., not much interest in the place-two women appeared and made bids on the building. One, a married woman, ran a pharmaceutical company in Maryland; the other ran a bed-and-breakfast in Washington, D.C., called the Mansion on O Street. She was looking to move closer to her boyfriend in Manhattan. “Usually, it’s the men who make these kinds of decisions, and here we had the women doing it,” said the broker on the deal, Midge LaGuardia of William B. May. “I loved it; I like to see women empowered.” In the end, the pharmaceutical-company owner took the property with the higher bid. And because she decided only to occupy the building’s first floor and basement, the tenants on the upper floors got to stay put-saving the old owner the expense of buying out their leases.


465 West 23rd Street

Two-studio co-op unit.

Asking: $650,000. Selling: $650,000.

Maintenance: $1,200; 52 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: 30 days.

GREATER LONDON At the storied London Terrace, more and more of the younger set that has traditionally lived in the almost 1,700 densely packed units are yearning to stretch their legs a bit by buying up contiguous smaller apartments and combining them into larger spaces. The 14-building complex takes up an entire square block between Ninth and 10th avenues and 23rd and 24th streets, so there are often several directions in which to expand. “A lot of my clients, they don’t care what they have to do,” said the broker on this deal, Susan Singer of the Corcoran Group. “They’ll take whatever combos they can get.”

Some of the residents who haven’t left are photographer Annie Leibovitz and Blondie rocker Debbie Harry. Another one is a single guy who runs an ad agency that specializes in airline advertisements. He had been renting there and leapt at the opportunity to buy these two side-by-side studio units. They were owned by a brother and sister who own a modern-art gallery in Soho, who decided to find places outside the city. That gave the ad man a post-renovation total of 1,000 square feet-which was nice, but still not enough. So three weeks after closing on the two studios, he asked Ms. Singer if any of his soon-to-be new neighbors would be interested in selling their places. Luckily for both of them, they found a taker in a 15-year veteran of the building, upping the ad man’s sprawl to 1,500 square feet. After the renovation, he’ll have nine windows in a row that capture the building’s coveted southern views.

217 West 19th Street

Unapportioned condo loft.

Asking: $1.235 million. Selling: $1.235 million.

Charges: $2,215. Taxes: $120.

Time on the market: one day.

NO PEACE Every weekday morning since he moved into his old 750-square-foot Chelsea apartment in 1996, Stuart Sussman could count on his downstairs and upstairs neighbors’ noisy morning routines to wake him up at 7 a.m. So when he learned in April about a new condo development going up in his neighborhood at the site of the Dance Theater Workshop, he pounced on it. “I missed out on everything else,” said Mr. Sussman, “including the Chelsea Mercantile, so I said, ‘I’m going to call the first day that the sign goes up.'” He did just that, putting in a call to Insignia Douglas Elliman broker Natalie Rakowski at 9 a.m. on the day she began to officially market the new development. By noon, he’d made an offer at the asking price. In Mr. Sussman’s new building, the Dance Building, the first three floors will be home to an expanded Dance Theater Workshop. The upper eight floors have sprawling lofts, with no columns to break up the space. Mr. Sussman’s 2,215-square-foot unit, on the fifth floor, has a finished bathroom and kitchen. For about $150,000, he’ll build out two bedrooms and one more bathroom in the space. Mornings are quieter for Mr. Sussman now, but evenings have brought him a new headache, with the recent opening on his block of B’Lo, a dance club. Mr. Sussman said he’s already lodged several complaints with Community Board 4-and he’s not the only one. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook about them,” said Board 4’s assistant district manager, Michele Solomon. “Police have been called there repeatedly.” Representatives for the club are scheduled to appear on Jan. 29 at a hearing of the Department of Consumer Affairs. “The issue is whether they’re operating as a cabaret without a cabaret license,” said Ms. Solomon. The Princely Palazzo