The Real Deal New York

Daniel (Boulud) looks for another kitchen

February 19, 2010 05:38PM
By C. J. Hughes

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Could a lack of counter space be forcing one of New York’s premier chefs to pack his bags for a new home?

Daniel Boulud, the French restaurateur, has put his three-bedroom condominium unit at 610 Park Avenue, above his famed restaurant Daniel at 65th Street, on the market, brokers say.

The 2,500-square-foot Upper East Side apartment, which has three bathrooms, is on the market for $6.5 million, according to a listing at that street address that first appeared two weeks ago on Brown Harris Stevens’ Web site, without pictures of the kitchen (see accompanying slide show).

That listing does not have a unit number, and the agent for it, John Burger, would not confirm that the apartment is Boulud’s. “I can’t comment on any of my clients,” Burger said.

But city property records indicate Boulud does own a condo in the building. And one of the photos in Burger’s listings shows some furniture upholstered in striped animal-hide-like fabric that would seem to match the “zebra-print couch” Boulud refers to in a 2003 interview in the New York Times interview about his home.

In the same interview, Boulud complained that his kitchen, which features a fridge, oven and five-burner range in a 120-square-foot space, according to floor plans, was too small. Indeed, the room is used mostly just for brewing coffee, Boulud joked.

But when Boulud proposed expanding the space onto an adjacent 300-square-foot terrace, his condo board nixed the idea, the article said. And that was despite the fact that Boulud is also the building’s sole commercial tenant, with Daniel sitting one floor below.

With two terraces, built-in bookshelves and a herringbone floor, Boulud’s condo has annual common charges of $4,712, which covers a doorman, maid service and a fitness center, plus a catering service from Boulud’s downstairs restaurant.

Boulud closed on it in 1999, according to Department of Finance property records. Though sales prices for apartments before 2003 are unavailable, the records do show that Boulud and wife Michele used a $1.6 million mortgage to pay for at least some of the home.

It would also appear that Boulud was among the first buyers in the building. Formerly the Mayfair hotel, the 15-story limestone and brick neo-Gothic edifice was converted to a 70-unit condo in 1998. It has 68 units today.

Where Boulud might be moving wasn’t immediately clear; a spokesperson for the Dinex Group, his restaurant management company, did not return a call for comment, and a call to his assistant at Daniel was not immediately returned. It’s also not known whether a move might be prompted by problems with Boulud’s restaurant business, which owns or manages restaurants in Palm Beach, Las Vegas and Beijing, as well as in New York.

But at least critically speaking, the chef would seem to be at the top of his game. Daniel, whose column-lined dining room was renovated in 2008, earned a four-star review from the Times last year. And a new downtown outpost, DBGB, has also won praise.

Brokers say the unit’s $6.5 million price is justified, though comparables are tough for the building. The much larger five-bedroom penthouse is currently on the market with Carrie Chiang and Janet Wang of the Corcoran Group for $34.8 million.

And a tinier two-bedroom on the seventh floor is listed with Rana Williams of the Trump Organization, the sponsor of the conversion, for $4.2 million, though that price was reduced by $300,000 a month ago, according to listings Web site Streeteasy.com. The last three-bedroom to sell was in 2006, for $4.2 million, Streeteasy.com data shows.

Yet, the celebrity factor of the apartment could pump up its price by 15 percent, even if the place can feel cramped to cook in, said Deanna Kory, a broker with the Corcoran Group who handles many similar high-end sales on the Upper East Side.

“I would think in this case the association would be a real big plus,” she said.

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