City’s priciest rental unit no longer the priciest

TRD New York /
May.May 14, 2012 06:50 PM

The four-bedroom, six-bath Astor Suite at The Plaza Hotel & Residences at 768 Fifth Avenue, which has held the title of the city’s priciest rental unit for the past five months, has dropped its price by a massive $40,000 a month, according to data from The unit, which was placed on the market in December by Melanie Lazenby and Dina Lewis of Prudential Douglas Elliman asking $165,000 a month, is now listed at $125,000 a month.

The unit is now the third priciest in the city, behind two units asking $150,000 and $135,000 respectively at Waldorf Towers at 100 East 50th Street. The $150,000-a-month unit served as the home of Cole Porter from 1934 until 1964. While in residence, he penned many of his famous plays and pieces. The units are both listed by Margaret Bay of Brown Harris Stevens.

The Plaza unit’s price drop, which sources said is large by industry standards, has prompted some surprise from the real estate community.

“That’s a big drop,” Bay said. “The owner is perhaps getting feedback [that the unit is overpriced]. It’s a very limited market [for these types of properties.]”

Several other brokers said the unit had been clearly overpriced in order to garner attention from the press.

“The $165,000 price-tag was meant to get the media interested,” said one broker with a high-end rental listing in Soho. “The price drop seems like it was designed to do the same.”

The suite, which is owned by Esprit CEO Jurgen Friedrich, is 5,087 square feet. The fifth-floor unit offers three bedrooms, five bathrooms, a library, a dining room and an eat-in kitchen, plus a guest apartment with an additional bedroom and bathroom, a sitting room and a terrace. It has been stayed in by the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John F. Kennedy and the Vanderbilts when it was part of the hotel.

Friedrich closed on the unit for $25 million in 2007 and then tried to sell it for $55 million.

One reason the Elliman brokers may be having trouble finding a tenant, Bay said, is that regulations at The Plaza dictate than units cannot be leased for less than one year.

At the Waldorf Towers, she said, brokers have “the opportunity to lease the apartments for a month or longer,” meaning the apartments work well for foreigners in town for only a few months or New Yorkers looking for a temporary space while renovations are being completed on their own homes.

“I have rented [the Cole Porter apartment] on and off throughout the year,” she said.

Lazenby and Lewis were not immediately available for comment.

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