$33 million mansion-to-be hits the market

Multi-family buildings make way for massive single-family homes

TRD New York /
Jun.June 08, 2011 10:35 AM

The recent death of heiress Huguette Clark — who grew up in a 121-room Fifth Avenue mansion — evokes a different era of city living, when the well-to-do lived in spacious, single-family houses as a matter of course, even as other New Yorkers squeezed into crowded tenements.

In recent decades, New Yorkers rich and poor have embraced apartment life. But the recent resurgence of high-end real estate, and in particular the flourishing townhouse market, feels somewhat reminiscent of Clark’s heyday. After a hiatus during the worst of the Great Recession, the trend of multi-tenant rental buildings commanding top-dollar as conversions to single-family homes has accelerated. And now, mansion-seekers have one more listing to choose from: Prudential Douglas Elliman agent Monique Ender Silberman has listed a townhouse at 51-53 East 73rd Street for $33 million.

The Queen-Anne style townhouse has been owned by Silberman’s family, the Enders, for years, she said. The five-story building currently has about 20 residential rental apartments, as well as a ground-floor retail space zoned as a doctor’s office. Years ago, the property had rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants, Silberman said, but now all of the tenants are free-market, and the property will be delivered vacant.

The 35-foot-wide house is “ready to be taken over by a single family,” Silberman said.

The Ender family, which has a number of real estate holdings in the U.S. and abroad, hadn’t planned to sell the building, Silberman said, but a potential buyer approached them with an offer.

The deal didn’t end up working out, she said, but by then the family had gotten used to the idea of selling the property, and decided to put it on the market.

After all, maintaining a rental building and keeping it full of tenants is “not the easiest in this market,” Silberman noted. (According to the real estate listings website Streeteasy.com, one-bedroom apartments in the building were recently listed for around $3,500 per month.)

She added: “In this climate, there’s the very rich, and then that’s it. There’s no in-between, for some reason.”

Meanwhile, “the townhouse market has really just skyrocketed,” Silberman said.

Since the listing hit the market in late May, Silberman said it has already received several offers, and several potential buyers are interested in using the property as a live-work space.
Another pricey townhouse listing is the Woolworth mansion at 4 East 80th Street, on the market for $90 million with Brown Harris Stevens broker Paula Del Nunzio. Del Nunzio recently told The Real Deal that the fact that the building’s renovation sets it apart from other townhouses on the market.

“In addition to being renovated with modern systems, all of the original detail of Woolworth’s architect, C.P.H Gilbert, is not only intact, but it has been meticulously restored, a unique and never before available combination,” she said.

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