River House rejects French ambassador’s co-op bid

Deal derailed over concerns about state soirees

From left: French Ambassador François Delattre and River House
From left: French Ambassador François Delattre and River House

A deal to house the French ambassador to the United States in a 14-room co-op at the tony River House has fallen through over concerns about the frequency and size of state parties.

The co-op board at the Upper East Side tower had been close to sealing the deal following a number of concessions from the French government, the Wall Street Journal reported. Those included limiting the use of the co-op to a residence, tempering sovereign immunity to allow for some legal action against the ambassador and staff, as well as minimizing the presence of armed guards. But the parties could not reach a deal on how often soirees would be held and how many guests would attend, according to the newspaper.

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The French government had been willing to pay the full asking price of $7.8 million for the co-op in the iconic building on East 52nd Street, the Journal reported. Nikki Field and Patricia Wheatley of Sotheby’s International Realty have relisted the apartment for $8.2 million. Elizabeth Stribling, chairman of Stribling & Associates, represented the French government.

The hunt for new diplomatic digs is part of France’s effort to reduce its footprint in New York. In June, the government sold the ambassador to the UN’s Park Avenue co-op to hedge funder Israel Englunder for $70 million.

The search could be more difficult for France than one would expect, as co-op boards have been less willing to deal with diplomats than they have in the past.- Tom DiChristopher

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