The Life You Like

Actress Renée Zellweger left the Academy Awards last Sunday without an Oscar. But this summer, she’ll be trotting around another kind of trophy: About one week earlier, the Chicago star paid approximately $2 million for a house in East Hampton village.

It’s not a beachfront address, and not the biggest deal in the East End neighborhood, but it makes Ms. Zellweger one of the season’s first well-known pledges to the Hamptons fraternity. Her new house is located in the immediate vicinity of the Maidstone Club, a tony quarter of an already posh village.

Reports surfaced in February that she was looking, and later that she had decided on an East Hampton stead.

Ms. Zellweger is showing some sense about what kind of house she takes: no glitzy, ultra-contemporary, outsized new constructions here. Her new home is a relatively modest 1880’s two-story shingle-style farmhouse.

“The key word is ‘authentic,'” said a broker familiar with the property. “It’s genuinely old, and it hasn’t been meddled with. It has original floors, woodwork-it doesn’t have postmodern, applied-on décor that someone thought would be charming.”

The house, which the broker said was in “very good condition,” has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a front porch and lies right on the street, unsecluded. It measures approximately 2,200 square feet and sits on about an acre of land. The house’s last owners did add a basement, but they refrained from further altering the feel of the building.

“What’s so nice about it,” the same broker said, “is that they did good fundamental things to the house without ruining its authentic character.”

Representatives for Ms. Zellweger did not return calls seeking comment.

Ms. Zellweger bought a house in Bel Air, Calif., last year for $6.8 million, but she put it back on the market this February for $7.5 million, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times . Her East Hampton purchase puts her in the company of fellow celebrities Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, and Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn.

A Family Affair: Warner Widow Kay Leroy Doubles Spread in Daughter’s Building

Kay LeRoy, ex-wife of the late restaurateur Warner LeRoy, is poised to double the size of her Greenwich Village apartment with the purchase of a neighboring unit at her building. Late last winter, Ms. LeRoy paid $1.68 million for a 2,800-square-foot unfinished unit at a loft building called the Greenwich, at 65 West 13th Street. Once she combines it with her existing apartment, her spread will encompass 5,600 square feet-an apartment closer in size to the one she enjoyed during her marriage. For over 20 years, she and her late husband held court in a lavish 18-room duplex penthouse apartment at the fabled Dakota, on Central Park West. Together, they reigned over an empire that included the equally fabled Tavern on the Green and the now-defunct Russian Tea Room. After their divorce in 1999-in which Ms. LeRoy was awarded $22 million and the couple’s house in Amagansett-she enrolled at New York University and began to house-hunt in the neighborhood.

Ms. LeRoy became interested in the Greenwich in the summer of 2001, after her then-22-year-old daughter, Jennifer-who became the chief executive of Mr. LeRoy’s empire after his death in February of 2001-bought an apartment there a year earlier. Kay LeRoy’s first purchase, on July 2, 2001, was a $2.87 million 2,838-square-foot unit. As of press time, Ms. LeRoy had yet to file a plan with the city’s Department of Buildings to combine the old unit with the new, but a real-estate source close to the deal confirmed that it was her intention to do so. Through a spokesperson, Ms. LeRoy declined to comment on the purchase.


201 East 79th Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $895,000. Selling: $850,000.

Maintenance: $2,202;

50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

HOME AGAIN Starting one’s own family in the city can be hard enough, but if you’ve grown up here, the pressure to stay near Mom and Dad is that much more pointed. So when a corporate lawyer, with her husband and child in tow, started looking for an apartment, it was a bit of a surprise when one opened up in the very building in which she had grown up-and which her mother had never left. “She came back to her roots,” said her broker, Barbara Posner of the Corcoran Group. The 1,550-square-foot corner unit has an oversized living room, a new windowed kitchen, and crown moldings in the dining room. Meanwhile, the sellers have a story of their own-beginning on the other side of the planet. The woman’s family escaped the fall of Saigon when she was only a teenager; she later made her way through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then got a Ph.D. at Stanford in a computer-related field. She and her husband-an entrepreneur by way of Princeton and Wharton-bought this apartment several years back, and they’re now relocating to California.

300 East 71st Street

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $349,000. Selling: $310,000.

Maintenance: $859; 50 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

AN EMPTY NEST This apartment has been vacant-save for dust and storage ballast-for the last 12 years. The previous owner received it as a gift from her father, but after she got married, the 830-square-foot apartment became too small for the two of them, so they moved to East End Avenue and kept this place as an investment. A full score of years later, the couple-weary of Manhattan-decided to move out to Nevada to join other family members, so the apartment finally hit the market. The couple that ended up buying it was attracted to the building in part because its co-op board had a reputation of being somewhat less conservative than others on the Upper East Side-which was important, because the buyers didn’t have a garden-variety relationship. The two are in their late 20’s, and they’ve been a couple for 14 years, but they’re not married-a no-no for many boards. They also have a 70-pound dog, which is why it was even more important for them to flee their cramped 500-square-foot rental. As it turned out, the board took a chance on these first-time buyers, and their new home is seeing its first signs of life in years.


2 Columbus Avenue

Three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom condo.

Asking: $1.895 million. Selling: $1.925 million.

Charges: $1,356. Taxes: $88.

Time on the market: one week.

SCHOOL DAZE The parents who last owned this West Side apartment needed to make a mad dash across the park. They weren’t satisfied with their local school district, and in order to qualify as East Side residents for the next school year, they had to move fast. Dad’s an investment banker and Mom’s a consultant; their daughter is 6, and their son is a toddler. They first tried selling the place sans broker to someone who already lived in the building, but when that fell apart, they started to panic. Although their apartment has some great attributes-a high floor in a luxury building, 2,110 square feet, three exposures with city and river views, architectural renovation-other apartments on sale in the building had been sitting on the market for months, and they couldn’t afford to wait. When they called Maryann Squires, a senior associate at the Corcoran Group, they were textbook examples of motivated sellers. “They had to sell this, no matter what,” Ms. Squires said. Luckily for them, the fickle real-estate gods seemed to have broken out of their recent snit long enough to bring in three bidders in a week, and the elated parents accepted the one who went $30,000 over the asking and was willing to sign the contract within the week. They made it to the East Side just under the deadline. “It was like a whirlwind,” said Ms. Squires. “They couldn’t believe it.” The Life You Like