Pricey condos, retail slated for site near Whitney Museum

By Katherine Clarke | June 13, 2013 01:00PM

Healthcare entrepreneur Daniel E. Straus is turning his hand to development, remaking six historic brownstones and two townhouses on the Upper East Side into a boutique mixed-use property where condominium units will start at $13 million, The Real Deal has learned.

A part-time philanthropist and CEO of a company that operates a network of nursing and assisted living facilities, Straus has previously owned and managed residential and commercial buildings in the city.

His affiliate company, an LLC dubbed JZS Madison, reportedly purchased the brownstones, on East 74th Street and Madison Avenue, for $95 million in 2010 from the Whitney Museum, which had acquired them over several decades to expand its footprint.

The investor will transform the properties into 10 three- to five-bedroom residences of between 4,000 and 10,000 square feet, officials involved with the project told The Real Deal today. The units at the development, at 33 East 74th Street, are set to hit the market this fall, they said. Douglas Elliman Development Marketing will head up sales.

Construction has already begun on the project, which is next to the the Whitney’s Marcel Breuer building, soon to become part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle is heading up the design of the properties, which will maintain their historic facades. The units’ interiors will be designed by Champalimaud, a firm best known for designing the Dorchester Hotel in London and New York hotels like the Carlyle, the Pierre and the Waldorf Astoria.

Five of the six brownstones date from the 1890s and their redevelopment had to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Those approvals were issued last summer.

On its ground level, the project will have 15,000 square feet of retail space, with 100 feet of Frontage On Madison Avenue. Retail space on Madison Avenue has attracted top dollar in recent months. At 680 Madison, for instance, Thor Equities recently agreed to buy 33,389 square feet of retail space from Extell Development for $277 million.

The space at 935 Madison Avenue will not be available for sale but will be seeking one or multiple tenants, officials said. Isaacs and Company is marketing the unit.

Completion of the project is slated for early 2015, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Whitney Museum is relocating to the Meatpacking District. Its new building, a 200,000-square-foot space at Washington and Gansevoort streets, was designed by architect Renzo Piano and will open to the public in 2015.

Correction: A previous version of this article identified the buyer of a retail condo at 680 Madison Avenue as Vornado Realty Trust. In fact, it was Thor Equities.