Foreign diplomats losing their appeal as tenants

Political schisms, plus financial concerns back home, make such tenants less stable
April 25, 2014 03:35PM

A number of the city’s toniest co-op buildings that long welcomed the diplomatic elites of foreign nations are now shifting gears, as hosting a foreign ambassador increasingly loses its cachet and instead becomes a headache.

As greater political turmoil and turnover takes place in a number of nations and legal issues such a diplomatic immunity rankle co-op boards, housing foreign ambassadors has become a hassle.

Foreign governments themselves are also increasingly changing course, opting out of pricey digs. The French government recently listed properties 740 Park Avenue, priced at $48 million, and 1143 Fifth Avenue, for $32.5 million, in a bid to move closer to the United Nations.

“It’s hard to make the argument that you are cutting back on social welfare for your people, but yet you have this asset worth $48 million,” Jed Garfield, owner of the brokerage firm Leslie J. Garfield, which is representing France in the townhouse sale at 1143 Fifth Avenue, told the New York Times. “It just is not a very good story.”

For the owners of other properties, even bringing such valuable assets to market is a challenge. Another duplex at 730 Park Avenue once served as the official residence of the ambassador to the Yugoslavia mission to the United Nations. Now the digs are the joint responsibility of five successor countries. At least one of the countries involved would like to sell, as all five currently pay the unit’s monthly maintenance of over $13,400 per month.

“I wish we could put it on the market and get some money and finish this already,” Mirjana Zivkovic, consul general of Serbia in New York, told the Times. [NYT]Julie Strickland