The Real Deal New York

UWS mansion with hefty tax bill hits market for $50M

January 18, 2013 09:30AM
By Katherine Clarke

Rana Williams (top left) and Chery Aiello (bottom left) of Keller Williams NYC and the Upper West Side property

A seven-story Beaux-Arts mansion, which formerly served as the headquarters for a nonprofit support organization for Russian immigrants, has come on the market on the Upper West Side asking $50 million.

The building, at 349 West 86th Street, was known for 50 years as the House of Free Russia. It came on the market last night listed by Rana Williams and Chery Aiello of Keller Williams NYC. The brokers were not immediately available for comment.

The distinctive townhouse was built in 1900 by architecture firm Janes & Leo. It features a bowed façade, a limestone base and a wrought iron balcony, according to the listing. The property was last renovated in 1998 and has modern conveniences such as a digital security system and geothermal heating and air conditioning. It includes eight bedrooms, 14 bathrooms, seven fireplaces, a roof garden and outdoor space on most floors.

The home is owned by Randall Rackson, founder of the derivatives business for insurance and financial services giant AIG. Rackson was one of the New York City property owners most affected by the expiration of tax abatements on new condominiums and townhouses in 2010, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The annual tax bill for his townhouse went up by $18,274 to $115,517, the Journal said. Rackson could not be reached for comment.

The 12,500-square-foot property almost didn’t survive in its current form. According to various reports from the 1990s, the building was the subject of several spats between its owners and their neighbors. Developers Jim Gomez and Tony Kissling, and later, another developer, Aldo Andreoli, wanted to demolish the mansion to build a 15-story condominium on the site. Neighbors stepped in to protect themselves — the construction of a building next door would have blocked their air and light — and the building for because of its unique architecture.

The building is currently under consideration for landmark status by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, according to the listing.

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