By Liana Grey
A year before Prince William proposed to his college sweetheart, Kate Middleton, the princess-to-be briefly considered moving to New York.
According to the lifestyle blog Gloss, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and designer Tom Ford urged Middleton — who had dabbled in accessories buying for Jigsaw, a British clothing chain, after graduating from St. Andrews — to work in the fashion capital of the world while her beau was serving in the Royal Air Force.
New York Magazine drew up a hypothetical itinerary, suggesting she buy a loft at One Morton Square, shop at Bloomingdales, and party at the highly exclusive SoHo Club.
Middleton never made it across the pond. But after she and Prince William wed next week, and settle comfortably in their 900-acre estate in Herefordshire, England, there’s always the chance they’ll follow the footsteps of countless royal families and claim a slice of the Big Apple.
“I could totally see them having a pied-a-terre here, it’s absolutely logical,” said Jason Saft, a broker at Citi Habitats. The question is, where would they buy? And what amenities would suit the second-in-line to the British throne?
“I can’t see Prince William and Kate working out at the gym or grooming their dog” on the communal floor of a luxury high-rise, Saft joked. A more appropriate checklist for the royal couple might include a prewar co-op on a desirable block, a terrace with sweeping views, and 24-hour doorman and concierge service. “Somewhere very discreet would be great,” said Saft.
Several years ago, Saft helped a Middle Eastern prince purchase a condo at One Seventh, a triangular glass building on the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Carmine Street — a trendy stretch of restaurants and boutiques. But for most royals, particularly future kings and queens, privacy is more important than boasting an address at the center of it all.
“They’re not celebrities who would move downtown for the action,” Saft explained. Uptown classics like the Dakota, Osborne, and Plaza Hotel, where a Saudi prince once stayed in a 4,000 s/f suite with three bedrooms and a grand piano, are “obvious choices” for Will and Kate, he said. “But it would be hard for them to get in and out without people following them.”
If the couple ever made Saft’s client roster, he would steer them towards 710 Park Avenue, a prestigious co-op with a private elevator, or the elegant brick apartment houses lining Sutton Place. “It’s a beautiful, hidden enclave on the less popular side of the Upper East Side,” he said. With proximity to the UN, the pair would have added security, Saft explained. And LaGuardia Airport is a short drive over the Queensboro Bridge.
Leonel Piraino, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, agreed. “I think they would live on the Upper East Side,” he said.
A blue-blooded friend of his, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, owns a two-bedroom apartment on Sutton Place, and has sold a line of jewelry at Neiman Marcus and Barney’s. According to various reports, members of about six royal families live in the New York area, including Prince Philippos of Greece and Bavarian Count Riprand Arco-Zinneberg, who heads a commercial real estate firm in Greenwich, Connecticut.
That the Count would invest in property outside Manhattan makes perfect sense: the hilly, wooded terrain and sprawling estates of Westchester and Connecticut remind European aristocrats of home.
“It’s a very comparable marketplace to the northern country in England,” said Anthony Cutugno, senior vice president of Houlihan Lawrence’s Luxury Country Properties division. “It’s an area that’s rural enough that you can have second and third homes. There’s a lot of green space.”
Cutugno thinks Will and Kate — who will soon be moving into a six-bedroom house with adjacent horse stable and garden, solar panels, wool insulation, and other eco-friendly eatures — would feel right at home in a Georgian-style mansion in Chappaqua, New York, with a mahogany library, indoor basketball court, and 86 acres of hiking trails and manicured grounds.
He has a listing right now for $27.5 million — a manageable sum for the UK’s royal family, which receives around 41 million Euros in public funds each year.
But there’s no Houlihan listing more fit for nobility that the Devonshire, a $30 million, 100-acre estate in Bedford Corners, just 45 minutes north of Manhattan. “At the moment, it’s the most expensive property in Westchester,” said Cutugno. “It feels like an English country estate.”
In spite, or perhaps because of its European flavor, Westchester is also popular with royals of the American variety.
In the late nineties, Cutugno helped Bill and Hillary Clinton close on their $5.95 million colonial mansion in Chappaqua. And Martha Stewart, the queen of all things domestic, owns an estate in Bedford, the equestrian capital of the tri-state area. “The Bedford riding lanes are some of the most well-known in America,” Cutugno said.
But if England’s favorite royal couple would prefer a taste of London over the countryside, Lucie Holt, a broker at Citi Habitats and a native of England, suggests they buy a townhouse on a quiet West Village block.
The neighborhood’s cobblestone streets and historic architecture evoke the British capital, she said.
“They will be close to the Hudson River, which will remind them of the River Thames, and close to the highway so they can leave town and go upstate to pursue their interests such as hunting, fishing, white water rafting and sailing and skiing,” said Holt.
“They will also be close to their English roots with the famous Tea and Sympathy cafe and A Salt and Battery fish and chip shop,” she added, and can stock up on British staples like baked beans and tea at Myers of Keswich on Hudson Street.
As for the number one item on the royal amenity checklist — privacy — they’ll “blend in with the celebrities who also walk around all day without being spotted,” Holt explained.
Most compelling, perhaps, for the future princess — who is routinely spotted leaving London nightclubs, and plans on dancing the night away after her wedding ceremony at a lounge set up in Buckingham Palace — is proximity to the city’s most famed party spots.
“Because they are still very young, they can venture out at night to the Meatpacking District to club it up with their Sloaney friends,” Holt said, using British slang for hipsters with old-money roots. “They won’t have to wait behind the velvet rope because royalty never has to wait in line like the rest of us commoners.”
If the royal couple can spend a Saturday night partying with the skinny jean set, why not live among them? “If it was up to me, I would like to see them in a townhouse in Greenpoint,” or even Williamsburg, joked Saft, the Citi Habitats broker. “It could be a great new reality show on Bravo.”