Your Mama thought it might be fun–or at least fun for us–to begin 2010 with some good, ol' fashioned real estate porn. So jump on yer imaginary jets ands high tail it to Noo York City where it's currently quite cold and where we're going to have a look-see through the hallowed halls of The Carhart Mansion (above), an 87-foot wide neo-classical monster on tree-lined East 95th Street at Fifth Avenue.
The Carhart Mansion was originally designed by high society architect Horace Trumbauer in 1916 and expanded in the early naughts by Zivkovic Connolly Architects in association with much lauded London based classical architect John Simpson. The front facade gives the appearance of two side-by-side townhouses when in fact it is really one building containing four capacious condominiums. The Carhart Mansion is situated at the northern edge of the Upper East Side in what is called the Carnegie Hill neighborhood, which officially extends only one more block north to East 96th Street. In fact, The Carhart Mansion is so far north that some Upper East Side real estate snobs scoff and poo-poo its East 95th Street address as being far too far north for proper society and one high-nosed nabob Your Mama is acquainted with once hissed in our ear that, "The Carhart Mansion is so far north it might as well be Harlem, darling."
Listen puppies, don't be fooled by the boorish but high-larious bon mot offered by Ned Nabober. In truth, the block of 95th Street immediately off Central Park is a super swish enclave lined with elegant, well-preserved and substantial townhouses that drip with architectural gravitas and are inhabited by some of the hoitiest of New York's toitiest and certainly the charmingly musty, long standing but somewhat anachronistic geographical real estate rules strictly adhered to by many old-school Upper East Siders have not stopped big names and even bigger bank accounts from setting up house in the four capacious condominiums carved out of the two conjoined and aristocratic edifices that are swathed in Indiana limestone and heavy with historic, elaborate and deeply dignified architectural articulation.
Now then, buckle your seat belt babies because Your Mama feels a long wind blowing through our gin sotted mind. Let's begin at the bottom and work our way up from the triplex that encompasses significant portions of the basement, first and second floors and up to the doo-plex penthouse with its six–that's right chickens, you read that right–six terraces. The main entrance to The Carhart Mansion is through carved wood doors–opened by a round the clock doorman, natch–to a small entrance vestibule that in turn opens to a short flight of stairs that leads to the main lobby where a private concierge sits quietly and patiently waiting to perform every beck and call of the few and economically privileged residents.
The first apartment Your Mama is going to discuss and work over is the triplex unit that encompasses significant portions of the basement/garden level, first, and the second floors. Property records reveal the unit was purchased in March of 2006 by Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault who laid out a breath taking $21,500,000 for their titanic triplex maisonette. Mister Chenault, currently the Chairman of the Board and CEO of American Express, earns nearly 30,000,000 clams a year which explains how he and the wifey can afford to buy and maintain unimaginably dee-luxe digs that measure, according to marketing materials, 14,550 square feet of interior space and include another 1,720 square feet of private garden and terrace. Altogether, the apartment includes 15 rooms, an prairie-like 1,100 square foot living room, 5 bedrooms–including a elephantine 1,100+ square foot master suite with two clothes-horse friendly dressing rooms and a 5-star pooper–4 additional private poopers and another 5 powder poopers. Other numbers to ogle over are the apartment's 21 closets, 5 fireplaces–plus a sixth decorative one, 3 sizable storage rooms, and 2 butler's pantries–one on the kitchen level, one on the dining room level–conveniently connected by a dumb waiter.
The children will notice that the Chenault's colossal condo has no fewer than four separate public entrances: A door that opens directly into the apartment from the main lobby of the building; A private elevator that services all three floors of the apartment as well as the main lobby which sits, roughly, halfway between the basement/garden level and the first floor; Via a door on the street that opens to a vestibule that leads to the library as well as the condo's palatial stair hall; Another door that opens from the street into a double height "chamber alcove" with a set of tightly winding stairs that give access to a second level bedroom. This bedroom, with its private entrance, is well suited to dee-luxe staff quarters for someone like Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter's rough talking house gurl Svetlana who will threaten bodily harm if made to sleep in a closet sized room behind the kitchen or possibly as guest quarters for folks like Your Mama's bff Fiona Trambeau who has a bad habit of bringing rough trade home after a long night of booze imbibing and hip swiveling.
The lowest level contains some of the less formal rooms and service areas including an approximately 600 square foot eat-in kitchen with two walk-in pantries and a Volkswagon sized work island, a family room that, like the kitchen, also opens through French doors to the private garden, a trio of storage rooms, an exercise room–which could probably be used as a staff bedroom if necessary, laundry facilities and three of the apartment's five powder poopers.
In addition to the Manhattan 2-bedroom apartment sized living room, which opens to a terrace through four French dooors, the main level offers soaring ceilings, scads of original architectural detailing, a charity event sized dining room, over-sized stair hall, library, 2 powder poopers, and a bedroom sized bar area that serves as passage to a window lined gallery that leads to a nearly hidden den at the front of the building.
The triplex's second floor encompasses all five of the bedrooms including the aforementioned master suite and staff/guest bedroom with private entrance. Additional there are three more bedrooms, each with private pooper, and and a flex use room with adjacent powder pooper that could be utilized as a second home gym, play room, children's study center or possibly as a bedroom for the least favored child.
According to property records, lavish living Mister and Missus Chenault also own several other homes including an estate in New Rochelle, NY and a nearly nine-acre spread in Sag Harbor, NY–that's the Hamptons, babies–they bought in March of 2001 for $7,450,000.
Just above the Chenault's triplex is a rambling doo-plex currently owned by corrugated cardboard tycoon Dennis Mehiel–a mover and a shaker in the Democratic party–and his wife Karen who, according to Property Shark, purchased the condo in September of 2005 $15,500,000. It might be interesting for the children to know that a few years before the Mehiels scooped up their jumbo condo at The Carhart Mansion, they were reportedly rejected by the board at The Dakota, arguably Central Park West's most desirable and difficult building in which to achieve residency. However, there does appear to be a wee bit of evidence that Mister Mehiel–or at least a Mehiel family member–was given the thumbs up by the board at The Dakota.
Anyhoo, just three years after buying and doing up the doo-plex, Mister and Missus Mehiel hoisted the 17-room condo back on the market in August of 2008 with a rather shocking price tag of $35,000,000, which–according or bejewled abacus– is nearly 2.5 times what they paid. Your Mama does not profess to be any sort of an expert about anything let alone ultra high-end real estate in New York City but given the state of the economy, which was slip sliding away in August of 2008, that seems like a rather, uh, optimistic number. A few months later, in October of 2008, the Mehiels de-listed their doo-plex and re-listed it 7 and some months later with a new real estate broker and a new but laughably lesser asking price of $34,900,000. Then comes along mid-September 2009 when the Mehiels and their real estate people chopped a hefty $5,400,000 from the price leaving it at it's current figure of $29,500,000.
According to listing information, The Carhart Mansion's doo-plex sprawls across the entire 3rd and 4th floors, contains 17 rooms that combined encompass 10,530 square feet interior space. The Mehiel's major mansion-condo proudly claims The Carhart Mansion's parlor floor, which provides shockingly high 18-foot ceilings in all the major rooms.
As best as Your Mama's beady little eyes can tell from studying the floor plan (above), the apartment has two public entrances: An elegant marble staircase that climbs from the building's main lobby to a landing that opens into a good-sized gallery, and the building's public elevator, which opens directly into a foyer that, in turn, gives way to the good-sized gallery. The parlor floor includes an stuh-ning 1,100 square foot, wood-paneled living room with fireplace and a trio of French doors that open to an impractically slim balcony overlooking East 95th Street, a cozy library with fireplace, a dining room with another fireplace and some of the most marvelous murals of dark woods that Your Mama has ever laid eyes on, and the kitchen/breakfast room/family room combo space that includes a fourth fireplace and access to a hallway where the wet bar, powder pooper and media closet are located. The remainder of the parlor floor is devoted to the massive master suite.
Originally, according to marketing information, the Mehiel's tremendous two-floor unit included 5 bedrooms–3 on the parlor floor and 2 on the second level–and 5.5 poopers plus two staff rooms on the second level that shared a single pooper. The Mehiels have reconfigured the condo so that there are now, according to the floor plan accompanying the current listing, 4 bedrooms and 4 full and 2 half poopers. Two of the family bedrooms on the parlor floor were merged into the master suite which altogether includes a double height bed chamber with a private staircase to the second level, an office that overlooks the triplex unit's private garden, 2 dressing rooms, 2 additional closets and two poopers, one modest in size the other larger and far more swank than Your Mama and the Dr. Cooter's entire master suite.
The second level, accessed via a curving stairway from hallway on the parlor floor that unfortunately splits the master suite into two sections, includes two family bedrooms each with private pooper, a media/play room, and a study/home gym. The two bedrooms and single pooper originally designed as staff quarters, located down a long, closet-lined "L" shaped hallway, has been re-made into a guest room or, if the owner has an ounce of humanity, a properly sized staff room. The hallway continues beyond the guest/staff room to an approximately 19-foot by 13-foot, windowed laundry room that would make our hard working but mouthy house gurl Svetlana pee her apple-bottom jeans with glee and satisfaction.
Your Mama came up a wee-bit empty handed when looking for additional residences owned by Mister and Missus Mehiel. While Mister Mehiel is often referred to in the media as based in Westchester County, NY and although we did find a trio of adjacent properties in tiny and monied Armonk, NY with Mister Mehiel's name attached, but those properties also have the name of his ex-wife attached so we're not quite sure what's what with that, but we'd chew glass dipped in bhut jolokia powder if Mister Mehiel and current Missus Mehiel don't have one or more additional residences is ritzy locations like Palm Beach, Aspen, the Hamptons and Westchester County.
Stay tuned, my little cherry pies, for part two when we'll hash out the remaining two condos at The Carhart Mansion.
photos and floor plans: Brown Harris Stevens, Street Easy, Corcoran