Will King James get a free NYC castle?

By Sarabeth Sanders | July 07, 2010 07:05PM

might think, based solely on the media craze of the past few weeks,
that basketball mega-star LeBron James has the power to single-handedly
resuscitate the city’s economy, close the budget gap and return the
luxury real estate market back to its 2007 peak if he chooses to sign
with the Knicks tomorrow night. (The soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets would do
the trick, too!)

Perhaps that’s pushing it, but that hasn’t stopped the real estate
industry from courting the idea, and Zar Properties is the latest to
throw its hat into the ring. 

The firm, which purchased the eight-story Soho loft building at 64-68 Wooster Street
off-market last year, has the sixth-floor — a roughly
6,000-square-foot floor-through space — available. It had been
undergoing renovations since Zar acquired the building, and now,
principal David Zar, along with his broker, Ivan Hakimian, are offering
it to James for free while he looks for a more permanent abode.  

Add it to the tally of James-induced real estate marketing ploys. Last
week, Halstead Property released a video in which head honcho Diane Ramirez vowed to donate her company’s portion of the commission on James’ new home to the charity of his choice.

Also last week, Prudential Douglas Elliman powerbroker Dolly Lenz told the Post that she’d taken James on a tour
of Katie Lee’s $12.95 million townhouse at 23 Perry Street. He’s also
reportedly eyed a $14.95 million unit at the Time Warner Center. 

But so far, Lee isn’t offering a free ride, and Hakimian hopes that’ll give him a leg up on the competition. 

Hakimian said the loft, which he described as a “live-work space,”
would otherwise be worth between $25,000 and $30,000 per month, but Zar
wants James to live there for free for up to two years. (In the
meantime, Hakimian said he’s more than happy to help him search for
something to buy, too).

Of course, “it’s not about the money” for an athlete who is likely to
make upwards of $17 million a year, Hakimian said. “It’s like a
welcoming gift.”

And it doesn’t hurt that the proposed James bachelor pad is in the same
building where photographer Steven Meisel has his offices.

“There are constantly models walking in and out of the building…I think that’s another attraction” for James, Hakimian added.

As for renting the space in the future, a James connection would likely
make the unit more desirable. Hakimian said they’ve been “waiting for
the right tenant.”