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Brokers showing penthouse escape from 47th floor.

Residential broker, Donna Olshan, president and owner of Olshan Realty, Inc., made a mad dash down 47 flights of stairs in five minutes, when she found herself only five stories above the plane crash that killed Yankee pitcher, Cory Lidle, and his flight instructor last week.

Olshan, along with an unnamed Corcoran broker, were showing a penthouse in the 50-story Bellaire, a luxury condo building at 524 East 72nd Street developed by the Zeckendorf family and completed in 1988.

The first 22 floors of the tower houses the Hospital for Special Surgery. The 183 luxury apartments above the hospital are home to numerous prominent New Yorkers, including developer, Arthur Zeckendorf.

Olshan told PEW she was standing in the living room of Penthouse 1B waiting for the Corcoran broker to arrive with prospective buyers when she heard an explosion and the whole apartment shook.

"It felt like a mini earthquake. The china shook, the chandelier rattled, but it only lasted for about five to 10 seconds," said Olshan.

When the would-be buyers emerged from the elevator a few moments later and said they hadn't heard a thing, the two brokers went ahead with a tour of the luxury condo. It wasn't until they spotted thick, black smoke belching up past the north-facing bedroom window that they realized something was wrong.

"Across the street there were five or six people out on the terrace to their penthouse waving at us to get down," said Olshan.

Amazingly, Olshan took time to turn off the air conditioning and lights in the apartment before she headed for the fire stairs with her group. "Five flights down, we encountered smoke, but we didn't really know what had happened," she recalled.

"We knew there was a fire, we knew there was an explosion and we knew we had to get out, but that was it," she said.

After descending 47 flights, they arrived at the Hospital for Special Surgery where firefighters escorted them down to the ground in elevators. "When I got out, I started running and running," recalled the broker. "My first phone call was to my husband, then to my father, then to my son's school, and then finally to my office, and I let them all know that I was fine, because by this time it was all over the news.

"There were S.W.A.T. teams, doctors, terrorism, security--these people had the situation under control very fast." she said.

Despite the drama, Olshan carried on with her work day, going on to her next appointment--a $7.5 million exclusive on Central Park West.

She said she doubts the crash will have a negative impact on the market, noting that even the couple viewing the Bellaire condo on the day of the tragedy were still interested.

"From the real estate point-of-view, that building held up extremely well," she said. "It was amazing that it didn't do more damage. It was built rock solid. I mean, you felt it, but there was no sway."

Olshan said she had no idea what a miraculous escape she'd had until she later watched the drama retold on television news networks the next morning.

"It wasn't until I finally saw what it had looked like that I realized that I had been 50ft away from the plane crash," she said.

"I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and I came out On the right side of the equation, which is what you call luck."
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Author:Perez, Esther O.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 18, 2006
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