Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
Former head of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Kahn is renting a multi-million dollar townhouse in Tribeca — which may not help it sell, but certainly raises its profile.
A representative for the owner of the posh townhouse where the former IMF chief will spend his days under house arrest said he's unsure if Strauss-Kahn will help sell the $13.9 million property that has been on the market since October 2009, but it will raise its profile.
"In this situation it's very tricky," said Robert Dvorin, "not your typical celebrity deal."
The four-bedroom, 4.5 bathroom, three -story home outfitted with Italian limestone underwent a two-year, multi-million dollar gut renovation, and the owners went so far as to fly in "real Italians" to finish the details, according to Dvorin. It was put on the rental market in March 2010 for $50,000 a month.
The owner declined to be named or comment on his latest high-profile tenant.
Realtor Sumi Vatsa, whose office at Warburg Reality is around the corner from the townhouse, said she has shown the property and described it as "excessive, even by New York standards."
She and her colleagues were surprised that Strauss-Kahn didn't wind up in a more cloistered apartment on the Upper East Side.
"I'm surprised they're down here, the streets are so wide," she said, surveying the fleet of television van and cameras aimed at his front door. "It's as if they're almost asking for it."
Strauss-Kahn arrived at the house Wednesday night after a judge approved a transfer from his temporary residence on Broadway in Lower Manhattan. The one-time contender for the French presidency is accused of attempting to rape a hotel maid and is free on $1 million bail under the condition he remain on house arrest — under 24-hour surveillance and monitored electronically.
The company awarded the $200,000-a-month contract to over see Strauss-Kahn, Stroz Friedberg, is the same one that handled Bernard Madoff’s house arrest.
His arrival sparked a media frenzy on the block. A barricade with dozens of television and still photographers is parked in front of the townhouse in Tribeca, drawing the ire of neighbors and businesses.
The manager of Urban Archeology, a tranquil vintage lighting and sink fixture shop a few doors down from Strauss-Kahn's news digs, said he's displeased by the traffic on their typically quiet street.
"We have trucks that come in and out, and that could present a problem," said manager Allan Klein, 67.
A resident complained to police on Thursday that photographers on the roof adjacent to Strauss-Kahn's townhouse could see into her apartment.