Are the Obamas Moving to the Upper East Side?
The former first couple has reportedly been checking out apartments at 10 Gracie Square, Gloria Vanderbilt’s old apartment building, but they may have some trouble getting approved by the co-op board.
Barack and Michelle Obama purchased an 8,200-square-foot home in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, D.C. for $8.1. million earlier this year, and they could be adding a New York City apartment to their portfolio.
The New York Post reported earlier this week that the former first couple has been spotted checking out listings at 10 Gracie Square, a ritzy, prewar co-op on the Upper East Side where Gloria Vanderbilt once lived. There are four apartments currently on the market, and one of them—a five-bedroom duplex listed for $10 million that’s been featured on the cover of Elle Decor—went into contract last week.
Amy Gotzler, a spokesperson for Brown Harris Stevens, which has the five-bedroom listing and two others in the building, says the Obamas “did not look at that particular apartment.” Maybe this 12-room terraced penthouse is more their speed?
In all seriousness, if the Obamas are considering the building they will need to be approved by its co-op board before they can purchase a place there. And that won’t be easy.
“Whether you like their politics or not, still have the practicality of having a neighbor with bodyguards,” says Kirk Henckels, vice chairman and director of Stribling Private Brokerage. “I think they would have trouble with any co-op board, just like Nixon did.”
Richard Nixon was rejected by two co-op boards, one on East 72nd Street and another at 817 Fifth Avenue, before settling on property that required no board approval: a townhouse next door to David Rockefeller’s on East 65th Street.
Henckels says 10 Gracie Square is “one of the best buildings in New York,” a place with “very beautiful apartments” where $10 million is “kind of a normal” asking price. (A 16-room triplex sold for $12 million in 2011, and the current listings range from a $3.5-million two-bedroom to a six-bedroom with a $15-million asking price.)
The Obamas may well be able to afford it. Barack has been giving speeches for $400,000 a pop in the past few months, and he and Michelle inked a joint book deal worth $65 million last spring.
The 1930 building, which is a few blocks from Gracie Mansion, the New York City mayor’s official residence, has 43 apartments and includes a fitness center, a squash court, and a basketball court (which may have sealed the deal for the hoops-loving former president).
If the Obamas are indeed in the market for an apartment in the building, Henckels has some advice: try to get pre-approved by the co-op board.