Fabled trophy properties of a bygone era are being embraced by an affluent generation of luxury buyers in Manhattan and beyond.
With its dramatic atrium, this duplex 30th-floor penthouse at 120 East 87th Street offers stunning views. Photo: Halstead Property, LLC
Fifth Avenue in the East 70s is about as fabled as it gets for residential real estate, and opportunities to purchase true trophy properties there are exceedingly rare. One of the most highly regarded prewar residences in Manhattan is 907 Fifth Avenue, where a 6,500-square-foot combination residence on the seventh floor is currently on the market for $29 million. The combination is actually three apartments into one, restoring the vision of architect J.E.R. Carpenter when he designed the building in 1915. With 50 linear feet facing Central Park, the new configuration incorporates five bedrooms, a 37-foot-long gallery, three wood-burning fireplaces and a total of 30 windows spanning four exposures.
Carpenter's limestone-clad masterpiece, which today includes a fully equipped gym and landscaped rooftop garden, won a gold medal from the American Institute of Architects the year after it was built. Of all of Carpenter's great New York buildings, this was the one in which he chose to live. "Fifth Avenue is the most coveted address in Manhattan because you have the advantage of being on the park, which is the equivalent of waterfront in any other city," said John Burger, managing director with Brown Harris Stevens. "People that can afford the best will never ask for the Hudson or East River; they will always ask to be on the park because it is considered orchestra center."
Another classic prewar co-op designed by Carpenter, this one comprising the entire eighth floor of 640 Park Avenue, on the northwest corner of 66th Street, is on the market at $26 mil-lion. The privacy of one apartment to a floor, which is how 640 Park was designed, was the ultimate luxury that the architect could provide when it was built in 1914. Also 6,500 square feet, this apartment boasts one of the largest footprints of any Park Avenue residence. "Until then, prominent members of New York society lived in town houses, so Carpenter's mission was not to cut corners, but instead to convince New Yorkers that apartment living was luxury living," concluded Burger. "Carpenter and fellow architect Rosario Candela introduced luxury Manhattan apartments into the marketplace by giving incoming residents amenities like a private entrance, unparalleled white-glove service and security they couldn't easily find elsewhere."
Situated atop the Park Avenue Court at 120 East 87th Street, the sprawling 6,265-square-foot duplex penthouse on the 30th floor, on the market at $14.8 million, offers Manhattan skyline views from every angle through oversized windows. The two condo towers, located on the former site of Gimbel's Department store, were built in 1988 to maximize the views, especially from the penthouses. "The terrace offers an extraordinary open view of the park," said Ari Harkov, senior vice president and associate broker with Halstead Property, "and the apartment itself has 360-degree views on every side — to the north, east, south and west — with a huge amount of light throughout, including in the sun room galleria that faces east."
The living room is spacious, at 33 feet by 24 feet, and the ceiling heights are 14 feet. "This is for someone who could buy anywhere on Park or Fifth, but who really covets these sweeping views from a higher floor, which you just can't get in a prewar on Park or Fifth," he added. "And here you are dealing with a condo, which is very different from a co-op. This is a more contemporary, full-service building with a pool, children's playroom, yoga room and a gym."
Tudor City, another coveted Manhattan address, offers a distinctive neo-Gothic design on a cul-de-sac above a midtown park. Penthouse 3, at 5 Tudor City, built in 1929, is a fully renovated triplex with an enormous set-back terrace and a great room with 18-foot ceilings. Besides offering stunning East River views, the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto a giant stone griffin on the building's exterior. The third-floor outdoor entertaining space can easily accommodate 50 people, and also offers views of gargoyles and stone lion-eagles, not to mention the Chrysler and Empire State buildings.
The apartment has been on the market since the spring for $5,895,000. "The great room, with the double-height ceiling, giant casement windows and the spectacular terrace are special by themselves, but what makes this unique is the combination of the gargoyles and the views," said Pat Slochower, senior vice president with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, "In many cases, you have either the views or the architecture — but here, you have both."
F. Scott Fitzgerald brought the elite estates of the North Shore of Long Island into the Jazz Age spotlight. Remodeled on the grand scale by architect William Lawrence Bottomley in 1925, the same year "The Great Gatsby" was published, the es¬tate at 12 Frost Mill Road in Mill Neck features a grand ballroom decorated with murals depicting European garden scenes and eight sets of French doors that open onto the formal gardens. The current owner uses the ballroom for lavish dinner parties, fund-raisers and musical events.
On the market at $3.3 million, the six-bedroom white-washed brick mansion, patterned after Marie Antoinette's garden house at Versailles, is a rare seven-acre find in an area zoned for five- acre parcels, explained Michael Stanco, fine-home specialist with Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. "You could buy something on this scale in the Hamptons — but here, you are significantly closer to the city," he said. "The North Shore itself is elegant and more low-key in an Old World kind of way. People who have apartments in Manhattan still like to come to the North Shore for the summer, and use this area as their summer retreat."
In Westchester, Scarsdale is equally renowned for its elite mansions, and none on the market is more impressive than the seven-bedroom, 9,263-square foot Colonial estate on 5.36 acres at 18 Heathcote Road. Built in 1907 in the exclusive estate district of Murray Hill, this manor home, now on the market for $9,999,000 (reduced from just under $13 million), is set back from the road, offering a regal gated entry into the front courtyard. The grounds, which feature a resurfaced tennis court, swimming pool and English formal gardens, have been well maintained, as is the home itself, which features a Clive Christian custom kitchen installed four years ago.
"When people shop for an older home like this, they don't want to do any remodeling work. And at this price, why should they?" asked Michele Flood, an associate broker with Coldwell Banker. "Every square inch of this home has been replaced and updated, from the wiring, plumbing and kitchen to the bathrooms and floors. The only elements that are still original are the shapes of the elegant rooms, and the very thick and exquisite moldings that are everywhere throughout the house. The current owners added a wing with a breakfast room with walls of glass on both sides, which leads into a family room with cathedral ceilings and beams — effectively bringing today's architecture into this beautiful old setting."
One of the largest properties on the market in northern Westchester is now available for purchase for $5.9 million. The 1920s estate, called Will 0' Woods, on 45 acres at 1300 Journeys End Road in Croton-on-Hudson, was remodeled in the classic Art Deco style in the 1930s, and has been in the same family for four generations. Formerly the home of Broadway actor and silent movie star Holbrook Blinn, it is only 45 minutes from New York City via the Taconic Parkway.
Bounded by property owned by New York City to protect the Croton reservoirs, the property contains its own eight-acre lake. Beyond the eight-bedroom home, the compound features a boathouse, a six-bedroom guesthouse, a caretaker's cot-tage, a barn complex, two ponds, two docks and several miles of hiking trails. "There are many waterfront properties on shared lakes, but this is on its own body of water completely contained within the acreage — including both shore lines," noted David Turner, associate broker with Houlihan Lawrence.
In Connecticut, Greenwich remains the sought-after hot spot for venerable estates. At 112 Indian Head Road, a six-bedroom clapboard Colonial on just over two acres is now for sale in the one-acre-zoned neighborhood of Riverside. The extra acreage is part of its appeal: the expansive English gardens are bounded by groomed hemlocks, forming several outdoor garden rooms, and there is also a deeded right of way for the path that leads to the Long Island Sound — perfect for toting a kayak or canoe.
Remarkably, the home — built in 1926 with solid oak floors, a paneled pine library, three fireplaces and built-in cabinetry — has had just two owners. There is also a cottage, ideal for in-laws, that was fully renovated a few years back with a living room, dining area, family room, galley kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. The list price of $5,750,000 has come down substantially, from more than $7 million when the property was first listed in 2010. "It is a two- acre parcel in a very convenient location," said Linda Collins, sales agent with Coldwell Banker. "It is unusual to find a property this size this close to the train in Riverside, which is a true community. A lot of people are looking for that convenience today."
Farther north, in the Litchfield Hills, is 138 Amenia Road in Sharon, Conn., now on the market for $10,950,000. Known as the Colgate Mansion, this 110-acre estate was built in the 18th century Italian Renaissance style. Construction for the mansion began in 1903 for Romulus Riggs Colgate, who worked with award-winning architect J. William Cromwell, Jr. to pattern the estate after his grandfather's mansion in Kent, England. The cost at the time, a staggering $2 million (or $43 million in today's dollars) included the expense of quarrying tons of granite from the property and creating the extensive marble fireplaces and the oak and walnut woodwork still in place today.
The home was purchased in 1978 by the songwriter and music producer Paul Leka, who used the third floor of the mansion as a recording studio for the rock group Kiss, among many other recording artists. Leka, who is known for writing the 1960s hits "Green Tambourine" and "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," passed away last fall. "It is a sprawling gated-entry estate with stone walls and wide carriage paths throughout the property in a very private setting, with the house in the center of the land," said Kathryn Clair, a listing agent with Litchfield Hills Sotheby's International Realty. "It is indeed rare to get the opportunity to buy an iconic estate on this scale that hasn't been on the market since the 1970s."
Wednesday, August 08, 2012