Exclusive: A Co-op Overlooking Central Park for $11.75 Million

Exclusive: A Co-op Overlooking Central Park for $11.75 Million

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For more than half a century, a rent-controlled apartment at 1150 Fifth Avenue was the home and office of the British-born journalist and social commentator Alistair Cooke. There, on the 15th floor, he famously worked on the “Letter From America” series for the BBC from a desk overlooking Central Park.

The genteel Mr. Cooke, best known in the United States as the longtime host of PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” (now just called “Masterpiece”), died at home in 2004, less than a month after officially retiring at age 95. His wife, Jane White, an artist, moved out about a year later, allowing the owner of the prewar building, which converted to a co-op in 1987, to sell the apartment.

Mr. Cooke and his wife, were they still around (Ms. White died in 2011), likely wouldn’t recognize the place today, except for the stunning views of the park and reservoir from the living room and most of the bedrooms. The current owners, Othon and Kathy Prounis, bought the simplex, No. 15A, from the sponsor in 2006 for $4.35 million, and commenced a top-to-bottom overhaul that took nearly two years, modernizing and reconfiguring the entire space.

The reimagined apartment, at East 96th Street, was recently refurbished and refreshed with new millwork, lighting and kitchen appliances, and is now about to return to the market. The asking price is $11.75 million, according to Randall Gianopulos, the agent at Sotheby’s International Realty who is listing the property. Monthly maintenance is $7,467.

The Prounises, who have two daughters, one of whom is in college, say they are looking for a home closer to Midtown, where Mr. Prounis works as a corporate lawyer.

Alistair Cooke at home in 1999, and the apartment today.

Credit
From left: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times; Pablo Enriquez for The New York Times

Their high-ceilinged apartment, which measures 2,474 square feet, has four bedrooms and three and a half baths, along with a windowed kitchen and a separate breakfast room/pantry with a wet bar and a laundry area. The master suite has a small walk-in closet and a marble bath with Herbeau brass fixtures. Two bedrooms share a bath; a fourth, near the kitchen, which could be used as a staff room or office, has a bath.

Entry to the home is through a 29-by-8-foot marble gallery lined with antique mirrors and ornate plaster-and-wood molding. A rotunda at the end opens to the formal dining room and the living room, which has a coffered ceiling and a wood-burning fireplace with a carved wood mantel and a Calacatta marble surround. Both rooms have dark-stained oak floors, in stark contrast to the hallway floors of off-white marble and mosaic inlays.

Off the dining room is the chef’s kitchen, which is also done up in marble and has granite counters, a Philippe Starck glass-vase light fixture and built-in appliances from Miele, Sub-Zero and Viking. The breakfast room has a second dishwasher, plus a mini refrigerator and icemaker.

The old layout “used to be one big square,” said Ms. Prounis, a professional designer who oversaw the home’s gut renovation, adding that “nothing was symmetrical — nothing really made sense.”

In the new design, she said, nearly every room flows from the gallery and can be closed off for privacy with pocket doors. Most rooms have glass transoms for added light and hidden-away flat-screen TVs, included in the purchase. The new design also features extra storage and built-ins. Fersa hardware was used in many of the rooms.

The couple say they will miss the proximity to the park. “We really got to enjoy the change of seasons — and we got great sunsets,” Mr. Prounis said.

Designed by James E.R. Carpenter and built in the early 1920s, the 16-story brick-and-limestone building at 1150 Fifth Avenue is on Museum Mile, in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood.

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