posted 04-14-2003 10:08 AM
by Blair Golson
The New York Observer
As one of the original seven right-stuff Mercury astronauts, NASA pilot Scott Carpenter was the second American to orbit Earth. But he's through orbiting Manhattan for a while, now that his wife's Upper East Side pied-a-terre has been sold to a dentist from Florida. And, as is often the case with real estate like this, hero-worship played a role in sealing this deal.
The apartment's new owners, Dr. Charles and Sheila Haas, who have been married for almost 40 years, started their search for a retirement home in New York at No. 4A East 87th Street - a large, white-brick co-op building off Madison Avenue. Mrs. Haas liked the apartment they saw there, but her husband wanted to keep looking. They both left without realizing that the pied-a-terre was home to the NASA astronaut and his wife, who live primarily in Vail, Colo.
The dentist and his wife then embarked on an eight-month odyssey of apartment hunting with Coldwell Banker Hunt Kennedy broker Rob Kuhar. After two particularly frustrating deals fell apart, the dentist's wife inquired again about No. 5 East 87th Street. It was still available.
"Sheila loved it even more than the first time she saw it," said Mr. Kuhar. "[And] as we were walking through the apartment, Dr. Haas noticed some of the photos on the mantle - they were of Scott Carpenter, the astronaut. Soon after, any reservations Dr. Haas had melted away."
According to Mr. Kuhar, Dr. Haas "was glued to his TV set" during the early days of the Mercury program, and he has always looked up to Mr. Carpenter as something of a personal hero.
"They spent about an hour together talking about the space program," said Mr. Kuhar, "and Dr. Haas now has a signed photo of him shaking hands with Scott, which he hangs on the wall of his dental practice."
After some brief negotiations, they agreed on a price of $418,500, all in cash, for the mint-condition 750-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.
[This message has been edited by Robert Pearlman (edited April 14, 2003).]