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September 2010

Sep. 29, 2010 - huge premium for condition, light + views for this 20-26 N. Moore Street loft


what a difference a day makes (+ light + views + renovation)
Let’s stay near the corner of N. Moore and Varick Streets, just above my favorite Tribeca bar, Walkers. Yesterday we stopped on the 5th floor of the western half of the two-building coop 20-26 N. Moore Street (20-26 N. Moore Street loft sells quickly if you don’t count 2008 and 2009), where #5W sold for $2.5mm in July, after a quick successful campaign in 2010 and a drawn-out unsuccessful campaign in 2008 and 2009. Today’s visit is to look at #8W, which sold for $3.6mm on August 2 after a public campaign that StreetEasy missed. How to account for that huge spread?

#8W looks to be a little wider than #5W, with “glorious lights and views” south, east and west (“glorious” is not a word you hear every day in this business) and is described at a whole ‘nother level than the likely-to-be-gutted #5W, in sum: “masterfully renovated and in mint move-in condition”, with 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, and central air. Those differences in width, condition, light and views earned a nearly 40% premium (assuming “2,700 sq ft” for #5W, for $926/ft, compared to “2,800 sq ft” for #8W, for $1,286/ft).

filling in the StreetEasy gap
The inter-firm data-base shows that #8W was marketed from February 15 at $3.95mm until the contract by March 30 at $3.6mm. The Tabak listing description is still live on their website as a closed sale here (scroll down, and down), with the pictures here and floor plan here. No idea why StreetEasy didn’t see this.

Dept of Redundancy Dept
Again: these lofts directly competed with each other. Same building, almost the same footprint. #8W followed #5W to market by 9 days and found a contract three weeks sooner. It is hard to imagine that everyone who saw one unit did not also see the other, in the 6 weeks #8W was available. The Market did not just prefer the one with more light in better condition over the other; the spread was 40%.

every picture tells the story, sorta
The comparison to the condition of #5W is evident in the #8W pictures, but I wish there were pictures of the view. At this height, the south windows clear the roof top (barely, but still) of 156 Franklin Street, so #8W is laid out opposite to #5W: living area is at the back (south), bedrooms in front (north), facing the Atalanta at 25 N. Moore Street.

Depending on water tower and nearby building angles, there might be angled views of the Woolworth Building, the north end of Battery Park City, and (soon!) the World Trade Center towers. There should certainly be great light south and west from the living room. But there are no pictures to tell that story. Sigh.

from the Department of Picky-Picky
With so many rooms, it takes a long time for the loft to open up when you get off the elevator. (See that second picture.) And I don’t get the point of the “den” / living room wall; it would have a much more open feel if there were visual access to that third south window. But with 4 real bedrooms plus a den plus an “additional room”, this was built for quite a large brood. If the buyers have fewer kids and/or a different life-style, I expect some of those walls to come down. Opening up the den and removing the “second” bedroom would go a long way.

But this is mere quibbling, given the 40% premium over #5W.

[UPDATE 9/30:

well, this is embarrassing
i should always check that well-known source for information about Manhattan lofts before writing about a specific loft or building ... Manhattan Loft Guy. I knew this loft sale was familiar, as I hit it soon after it closed, in my Aug 11, 20-26 N. Moore loft clears at $1,286/ft with no frills. Fortunately, this new post uses the actual listing photos and floor plan (i.e.,thre's added value, while the Aug 11 point was:

I can't think of another loft in a similarly classic small Tribeca coop with no amenities that has cleared recently at as high a price-per-foot as #8W.

At least I wasn't totally redundant.]

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 28, 2010 - 20-26 N. Moore Street loft sells quickly if you don’t count 2008 and 2009


what do you get?
The Manhattan loft #5W in the twin building coop 20-26 N. Moore Street finally sold on July 28, after coming back to market on February 6 and finding a contract by April 22. Why “finally sold” if it found that contract in 10 weeks? It is that “after coming back to market” angle, so let’s go into the weeds of the full listing history ... after noting the details of the sale and playing with the floor plan and renovation.

Not surprising for the 2010 trajectory, the clearing price of $2.5mm is only a slight discount from the ask of $2.595mm (3.7%). At “2,700 sq ft”, you would expect there to be at least the potential for 3 or 4 bedrooms, as the listing description notes, especially with “[f]our exposures [and] abundant light”. However, the footprint is not as flexible as you would guess and the current floor plan is ... errr ... challenging. Oh, and this bit of the babble is about as gentle as selling babble can be, while communicating an important point: this loft is “an older renovation”.

it is not the age, it is the flexibility
An older renovation that is perilously close to a 2,700 sq ft
One Bed Wonder, if you tend to believe (like the City of New York) that a “bedroom” should be wider than 6’ 9”. An older renovation that is, like a true One Bed Wonder, not suitable for living by people who sleep in more than one bed, with the only full bath in the master suite. The challenge of this floor plan is not so much that it is “older” as that it is not very flexible. There are no easy fixes.

To add real bedrooms to the current layout, you’d probably use the two west windows, but then you’d have to swing the kitchen around (in or adjoining the current laundry room?). The easiest way to add a second full bathroom would be to put it behind the kitchen, next to the powder room, but then you’d either lose the second “bedroom” or make another en suite full bath.

So ... unless the new buyers have the same preference as the sellers (large open spaces, infrequent need for a second sleeping area), your architect will take out the proverbial drawing board and design a wonderful space with 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2.5 or more baths, and a renovation bill of around a half million bucks.

Given that it sold quickly in 2010, I wonder if the new owners just moved in, or started a do-over renovation.

what do you count? (but I digress...)
Although the 2008 and 2009 listing history for this loft is very interesting (I will get to it soon), there is no reasonable way to count Days on Market for the July sale of #5W as anything other than beginning on February 6, 2010.

But I want to note a conversation I had recently with Noah Rosenblatt of UrbanDigs about Days on Market. The short version is simply that this is yet another example of how not having a true Multiple Listing Service disadvantages people who want to really track the market (whether they are agents or civilians). A real MLS would have standards about counting Days on Market to avoid people gaming the system by, for example, entering a “new listing” for a listing that is being extended; indeed, a real MLS would have standards, period.

I see no indication that REBNY has any interest in this topic, so even people who are trying to be systematic about it take different approaches. The Miller counts days to contract from the last price change; his theory is that something is not really exposed to the market until it is at a price from which The Market will negotiate. I get his point, and understand that he has been using his own standard for many years, so it has a significant legacy value.

But The Miller’s approach is arbitrary in that it ignores time on the market before trivial price changes (such as a drop from $1.995mm to $1.95mm, intended by the agent and seller to get fresh attention as a Price Drop, but which should attract no more interest at $1.95mm than it did 2.3% higher).

I don’t know that I have ever articulated the standard I use for my Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, but it has a seriously arbitrary element, as well. My goal is to capture how long a Manhattan loft has been continuously offered for sale, so I skip over “temporary” periods off the market (whether with the same firm, or a change in listing firms). My arbitrary cut off for “temporary” is 60 days, and I am tempted to go higher when I see one that has a gap of just a bit more than 60 days, especially if that is over the summer.

different marketing periods, different markets
In looking at #5W at 20-26 N. Moore Street, there is nothing controversial in saying that it was on the market from February 6 until the contract April 22, and closing July 28. Nonetheless, the full listing history is interesting.

You will recall that The Peak in Manhattan real estate was more or less the first quarter of 2008 and that the Post-Peak market did not change dramatically until Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy almost exactly two years ago. And that the “drama” included a nuclear winter.

The full listing history for #5W shows all that (and more!): over-optimistic pricing after The Peak; unsuccessful attempts to adjust after Lehman; continued marketing in 2009 at prices lower than it later sold for in the fresh market of 2010. Again, there is no new lesson illustrated by the travails (and eventual success) of #5W, but I want to give a shout out to a Poster Child when I see one.

Without much further ado....

June 7, 2008 $3.1mm
June 20 $2.95mm
Lehman!  
September 22 $2.75mm
October 17 $2.6mm
December 2 $2.395mm
March 9, 2009 $2.2mm
April 10 off the market

At the risk of continuing to beat the horse well past efficacy, I would like to note a few dates and prices, keeping in mind that The Market determined that #5W was worth $2.5mm when it went to contract in April 2010.

  • if you are one of those people who looks at the macro Manhattan market as being off 20% since The Peak, the $2.5mm clearing price in April 2010 is within that range of the June 2008 asking price
  • see the buyers flee! the immediate post-Lehman market was characterized by an absence of buyers; hence #5W could not sell off four asking prices from $2.75mm to $2.2mm, despite being exposed to The Market for more than 6 months, and despite being within normal negotiating range of the eventual clearing price
  • it probably would not have done them any good to stay on the market after April 2009, especially near that last $2.2mm ask; #5W was by then at least perceived as a tired listing, if not a bruised, battered and shattered listing


Fun stuff!

One last huzzah: The Market refused a sale at $2.2mm, yet The Market later granted a sale at $2.5mm. Must have been different markets, right?

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 27, 2010 - back into the Soho time machine, to Spring Street lofts circa 1972


The History Channel, again
We seem to be in the history cycle on Manhattan Loft Guy, and there is no telling when it will end. Today’s installment wanders back to 1972 Soho, when a few pioneers got together to buy a small building on Spring Street near Greene. At least one set of those pioneers is still living there, still making art there. The Habitats feature in yesterday’s New York Times real estate section has the story: The 3,200-Square-Foot Adventure.

In 1972 ... he was approached by a friend. Would he like to join three families who were buying an old garment factory and converting its lofts to residential space? For a total cost of $146,000, each family would have an entire floor containing 3,200 square feet of space.       


good lawyering = priceless
The NY Times didn’t out them by providing the address (they still live there); I won’t mention the address either. But I know the building, and the four pioneer families may not have budgeted to get much lawyering in that initial $146,000. According to a New York State tax advisory opinion in 1994, the four pioneer families originally owned the building as a simple partnership, each having exclusive rights to reside in their full-floor lofts and each having a 25% interest in the commercial space on the ground floor and basement. This was about as simple a legal structure as could be imagined way back when, and it ‘worked’ for them for 20 years.

They wanted to change the legal structure in 1994, and sought the referenced tax opinion to see if they could avoid capital gains treatment converting from a simple partnership to a two-unit condo, with ground-floor retail as one unit and the 4-unit coop as the other condo unit. (I.e., a true “condop”.) They could. Whew!

Since the partners (now coop owners) retained ownership of the commercial space (now condo unit), they have gotten the benefit of the commercial rental income from the beginning without ever having to worry about 80/20 issues. I don’t know what the rent was like in the early days, but it has been sufficient to cover the coop’s operating expenses since at least the mid-1990s, as the coop owners have a one-digit maintenance expense: $0.

the early days: rats and vagabond living
Pioneering is hard. Each family’s initial investment of $36,500 gave them the right to live and work there, along with the need to fix the place up. Did they move in right away, with rats, broken windows, occasional heat and water? Sounds like it:

Even today, [owner] struggles to describe the chaos that greeted them. Rats scurried about as if they owned the place. Every window was broken. Decades’ worth of lint was embedded in the floor. The rackety boiler reminded [owner] of a 19th-century steam engine. Heat, hot water and electricity were sometime things.

 

***

Sleeping on mattresses and living like vagabonds, the couple gradually transformed the old loft. As an artist, [owner] knew how to work with tools. Together they covered the original floor with lengths of pine and refinished the floor-to-ceiling columns — actually pine tree trunks — left over from the loft’s industrial days. Friends helped patch the holes in the tin ceiling.       

 

In many respects, the undertaking was daunting.       

 

“We had no money,” recalled [owner], who along with his wife was a college teacher at the time. “And we literally had to rebuild the place. But it was very exciting. I think of that period as the good old days.”        


Think about that: these pioneers were essentially repairing and rebuilding their living spaces, while living there among rats and broken windows. That “sometime” electricity, heat and water was the responsibility of the four owners.

Yes, they were the “good old days” in early Soho (even as described by this pioneer), but the sepia tones of memory should not obscure the squalor, or the risks. It sounds as though these two college professors put all of their money into their loft, took on the responsibility of making it habitable, and had three partners to deal with. Among other things, they laid 3,200 sq ft of pine on top of the old garment factory floor.

at least they owned the building
The building was almost certainly not zoned for residential use, and obviously did not comply with the city’s Building Code for residences. It would be ten more years to passage of the Loft Law that gave people who were renting living space in buildings like this legal tenancies, so lots of Soho neighbors in 1972 were facing the same problems as these pioneers (rats, heat, holes) plus the risk that their physical improvements to the space (and sunk dollars) would be wiped out if the landlord kicked them out. (See my September 23 spin through the history cycle, time travel? a first person account of Early Loft Days in New York, for a contemporary account of that phenomenon in a new loft neighborhood.)

limited turnover
It is rather remarkable that two sets of pioneers are still in the building. According to phone, permit and ownership records on Property Shark, the 3rd floor has also been lived in by the same people since the early 1970s.

The 5th floor sold in an estate sale in 1998, for $998,500. The 2nd floor has sold twice: for $1.075mm in 1998 and $4.3mm in 2008 (still in “classic” “raw” condition with one bath). That 2008 sale at nearly $1,350 sq ft raw is a stunning price for a 2nd floor no-amenities coop, even in prime Soho and even one month before Lehman filed for bankruptcy.

pretty primitive, still
The slide show that accompanies the Habitats article in the Times is focused more on the owners’ life, art and furnishings than on the loft, per se. So the several pictures that include the kitchen don’t focus on the kitchen, but on the collections of hat forms or Japanese battle toys, or the columns, or have a deep field (especially in the 1970s, $400 for a Garland stove must have seemed an extravagance). The pix show a still-primitive space, with that pine flooring, simple light fixtures, classically exposed sprinklers and electrical conduit, window air conditioners, and a studio section that puts the “artist” in artist’s loft.

Of course there is no floor plan, but the pix suggest a Long-and-Narrow that is 4 windows wide in front, with the studio in the back getting gentler north light. (The 2008 5th floor listing claims a space that is 36 x 81 feet, with 14 foot ceilings, and windows only north and south.) With no windows on the long sides, flexibility for legal “bedrooms” is limited. (Not an issue for these folks, at least not for the last 38 years.)

it is a small Manhattan Loft Guy world
This post fits within a recent Manhattan Loft Guy cycle touching on the history of loft neighborhoods in New York, as I mentioned up top. Indeed, there were 3 Back In The Day posts just last week. But because the New York loft world is a small world after all (did anyone just start singing??), this post is also related to another recent MLG thread.

This four-unit coop might be the single biggest per-owner victim of the low-life property manager who pleaded guilty two weeks ago to stealing $2.3mm from 19 properties he managed (September 19, thieving coop and condo property manager pleads guilty).  Based on the lawsuit that this coop filed against that bad guy a year and a half ago, this 4-unit coop lost $790,000.

It is a wonder that the owners pictured in the Habitats piece yesterday can still smile after being fleeced of $197,500. Hardy pioneer stock, indeed!

To repeat from my September 19 post’s closing note:

Manhattan Loft Guy note to self: write about how that rippling effect may cause lots of problems between coop shareholders / condo owners and boards, and among shareholders and owners. Soon.


© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

 

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Sep. 25, 2010 - the Lower West Side before "Tribeca"


great site, great pix
If you have not been to Kevin Walsh’s website Forgotten New York, you owe it to yourself to click around there. I came across it (again) in the course of trolling the inter-tubes for some depth and detail for my September 22, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for Manhattan Loft Neighborhoods / Tribeca loses Bazzini, gains .

Anyone who coins “Pre-beca” is a winner on the Manhattan Loft Guy scoreboard; if you can also post photos from the 1970s, 1980s (and much earlier) of the land on which “Tribeca” later stood, you head to the Hall of Fame. Check out The Lamps of Pre-beca for such photos. I don’t share Walsh’s interest in street light variations, but the “streetscapes” in these photos are deliciously desolate.

some personal reflections
My dad worked in an office down by Rector Street in the late 1960s and I remember taking the Broadway Local down there to visit. I had to walk a pedestrian bridge (over some spillway of the Battery Tunnel, perhaps), and it was a strange world down there in those days. The World Trade Center site was a huge construction zone; I assume the landfill from the foundation work was already dumped into the Hudson by then, later to become Battery Park City.

I may be conflating romantic imagination with memory, but I have a sense of the odd mix of office towers and commercial spaces along Washington and Greenwich Streets down there. (Were they electronics / radio suppliers?)

It was a very dynamic time for Manhattan, with a huge building boom in full swing, yet many of the Washington Market food businesses that got razed for the World Trade Center headed to the Bronx, leaving as orphans some butter, egg and provisions businesses further north around Duane, Reade and Jay Streets (Bazzini, Wils and Hotel Bar Butter among them, as noted in my September 22 post). The decline of that neighborhood on the Lower West Side lead to the creation (eventually) of a new neighborhood in the exact same location. Just this once I will use the pain-in-the-butt capitalization: TriBeCa.

I have no recollection that I ever wandered those streets in the late 1960s; probably not, as I had no business there. By the time I did get down just below Canal Street on the west side occasionally, it was to visit clubs and bars in the late 1970s. The one time that I probably walked Pre-beca south-to-north was well after dark, after watching the Bicentennial fireworks from The Battery (more or less). I know we walked back to Chelsea that night, probably “inland” from crowds walking under the West Side Highway, so probably up Greenwich, Hudson.

If I had known on July 4-5, 1976 that this area would soon be famously christened, or that I would live there within 5 years, I might have paid more attention. But it was dark, and desolate (apart from crowds of pedestrians streaming north, of course).

bonus points!
Another thing I remember learning about as a kid: the coelacanth. Walsh earns even more MLG Points (redeemable in
very limited locations) by using the word in a blog post about New York City lampposts:

A quirk of fate allowed the skeletal remains of the streets where Washington Market used to be-- as well as a cache of extremely old castiron lampposts--to remain in place 20 years after their contemporaries had long vanished, like the coelacanth of Indonesia, still swimming 400 million years after its brother fish had disappeared.


note to readers
I am going to update my Favorite Links column, to the right. (One of these days, other than this day.) Forgotten New York will make the list.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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Sep. 24, 2010 - extra BR + extra bath cost exactly $475,000 at 270 Broadway loft


I hope everyone was polite at the closing
What do you do when you grow out of your loft? For most people who can’t make to do with ... say ... 2 bedrooms and 2.5 baths (such as ... say ... the Manhattan loft #16C at 270 Broadway, Tower 270, which sold on September 15) you uproot your family to get that additional space. But these sellers-of-2-BR-seekers-of-3 were lucky: they did not put their too-small loft #16C on the market until they had an accepted offer for the larger loft right next door. They bought #16B with 3 bedrooms + 3.5 baths on August 31.

sometimes The Numbers work
#16B sold at $2.2mm, a tiny discount from the $2.225mm asking price, or $862/ft. It came to market on March 30 and had a signed contract with the next-door neighbors by May 1.

So the next door neighbors in #16C knew they had a handshake deal to buy #16B when they put their #16C on the market on April 29. They obviously knew that they had valued #16B at $862/ft in that contract, but they first gave it a shot at $1.875mm, or $938/ft. When that had not worked by June 3 they dropped to $1.795mm, from which they generated a contract by July 22 at $1.725mm, or $863/ft.

I assume that the #16C buyers did not know the contract price for #16B, which was by far the most relevant comp in July, when they started negotiating for #16C. It is likely that the #16C sellers used their #16B contract price to justify drawing a firm line in the sand for #16C at that $1.725mm, essentially identically valued as #16B.

Let’s push these numbers a little farther .... These recent sales show that The Market valued these two lofts the same on a price per foot basis. I guess it is not surprising (but it is cool) that the sponsor achieved essentially the same values for these two lofts when they originally sold in 2002 ($16C at $558/ft, or $1,115,142; #16B at $547/ft, or $1.395mm). Put another way, #16C sold for 79.9% of the #16B price when they both sold in 2002, and then sold for 78.4% when they both sold in 2010.

That is a pretty efficient market, no?

similar condition
Although #16C got to be too small for these folks, at “1,998 sq ft” it is hardly “small” for a 2 bedroom loft in Manhattan. The problem is that this particular Long-and-Narrow footprint provides little flexibility to add an additional room, as all the windows are along (most of) one long wall and it is not quite wide enough to make two bedrooms on the back (narrow) wall, even if one wanted to rip out the master bath to do it and even if one could live with a bedroom with no window.

The building was converted only in 2002, so the condition of all units in the “Tower” portion that have not been renovated should be pretty much the same. Here is the babble on the 2 BR #16C:

Balthaup [sic] designed chef’s kitchen featuring stainless steel counter tops, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, Miele cook top and double ovens and a Kitchenaid garbage disposal .... en-suite [master] bath with a glass paneled stall shower, a Phillippe Stark tub and Dornbracht chrome fixtures ....

In not very great contrast, the 3 BR + 3.5 bath #16B (with “2,551 sq ft”) contains these (now familiar) elements:

Bulthaup kitchen and Miele appliances .... en-suite master ... [bath]  features a glass paneled shower and freestanding Philippe Starck bathtub with Dornbracht chrome fixtures ....


(Snark alert!) So it is fair to say that these two lofts were in essentially identical condition when they sold, so long as a "Balthaup deisgned chef's kitchen" is really identical to a "Bulthaup kitchen".

same commute, same dry cleaner
One of the reasons that people don’t like to move is that they don’t want to disrupt their lives: they are loathe to break in a new dry cleaner, or to learn to time the walk to the subway and the subway trip to work, or to risk losing play date partners for kids by moving to a (new) inconvenient location. Not a problem for the folks who moved from #16C to #16B.

And they probably saved thousands on movers, without tying up the elevator.

fun with broker babble
What are the chances that #16B really has ceilings that are two feet higher than #16C? (See the listing descriptions....)

© Sandy Mattingly 2010
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Sep. 23, 2010 - time travel? a first person account of Early Loft Days in New York


parallels between 1970s Soho and 2010 Bushwick
There is a fascinating first person account of someone who looks forward (kinda, sorta, perhaps) to being under the new loft law on a Brooklyn blog that Brownstoner linked to yesterday. In broad outline, the story is similar to what was happening at The Dawn Of The Manhattan Loft Era (ed. note: read that title with a Deep Voice; it will sound better).

The common elements include very rough (relatively inexpensive!) space, absent or distracted landlords, a lack of building services, conflicted relationships with the Fire Department, a desire to stay under the radar, appreciation of Loft Living and The Envy Of Friends, and Anxiety about the future.

that new law
I hit the content of the law extending the loft Law, and the last minute political maneuvering that preceded and followed its passage, in my June 25,  loft law extension / what's the big deal? UPDATED w maps. That is a rather long post (even by Manhattan Loft Guy standards), but here is the main relevant section:

that handwriting on the wall? creeping loft-ism

If there are official estimates for how many buildings will soon be subject to the new-and-expanded Loft Law, I have not seen them. (This unattributed "fact" is reported in the Bushwick blog on Tuesday:  "The law will now cover tenants in about 3600 more units in around 300 buildings who can prove their tenancy for 12 months or more in 2008 and 2009.")

 

Formally, the law applies only to buildings that already meet this criteria:  buildings in which at least two families have been living for at least 12 consecutive months in the 24 months of 2008 and 2009 (reports say that "two" will be amended to "three" families as the trigger for coverage). Only those buildings, and only if they are outside of the surviving 13 IBZs [Industrial Business Zones].

 

But I gather that everyone assumes that, over time, these grandfathered and legal residences will inevitably spawn nearby illegal residential use, which will come to dominate some of these neighborhoods, as happened in Soho and Tribeca. When (if?) that happens, the facts on the ground will inevitably require the landlords to upgrade and/or the City to legalize additional buildings for residential use.

loft neighborhoods are different, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, elsewhere
Here is fodder for a future post, building on this Bushwick = Soho parallel and yesterday’s Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for Manhattan Loft Neighborhoods / Tribeca loses Bazzini, gains. Maybe a Grand Unified Theory on loft neighborhoods ....

The simple observation is that loft neighborhoods are much more changeable (in scope and velocity) than areas that have been ‘established’ residential neighborhoods for many years; when things change, they tend to change more radically and more quickly in loft neighborhoods than elsewhere.

Something else for the Manhattan Loft Guy to-do list. Regular readers will know not to hold their breath.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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Sep. 22, 2010 - Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for Manhattan Loft Neighborhoods / Tribeca loses Bazzini, gains Sarabeth’s


old to new, again (and again)
The New York Observer
noted yesterday that the long-awaited lease for Sarabeth’s has been signed, signaling the end of the Bazzini presence in Tribeca. If the story sounds familiar, that’s because the family that owns Bazzini said publicly at least as long ago as this April 2009 Downtown Express article that they planned to close (“[w]e are eyeing leasing the space….A year or a year and a half from now, we could still be there”) and in October 2009 Downtown Express identified Sarabeth’s as the potential new tenant.

This story leads me to a new Manhattan Loft Guy locution about the nature of loft neighborhoods. Let’s call it “Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle for Manhattan Loft Neighborhoods”, though it probably ‘works’ equally well in describing any true loft neighborhood.

To do rough justice to the original concept from physics, we will start with a lay description from How Things Work, with some pregnant bolding:

To know the velocity of a quark we must measure it, and to measure it, we are forced to affect it. The same goes for observing an object's position. Uncertainty about an object's position and velocity makes it difficult for a physicist to determine much about the object.

Of course, physicists aren't exactly throwing medicine balls at quanta to measure them, but even the slightest interference can cause the incredibly small particles to behave differently.


The Manhattan Loft Guy adaptation:

even the slightest interference increase in residential population can cause the incredibly small particles dynamic loft neighborhoods to behave differently change in ways the new residents will eventually lament

the back story
Although the Bazzini operation at Jay and Greenwich Streets has only been a cafe and retail store since 1997, the change from a Bazzini cafe to a Sarabeth’s restaurant and retail store is yet another sign of Change in Tribeca. As the Downtown Express put it 17 months ago, Bazzini is “perhaps Tribeca’s last tie to the old Washington Market food trading days”. Or, as they put it more broadly last October, this is “the latest example of ‘new Tribeca’ beating out ‘old Tribeca’”.


We’ve been here before. Yes, the ‘character’ of Tribeca is not what it was in the 1970s, when there were still food processing and warehouse facilities. Which is not what it was in the 1980s, when there were fewer such active businesses. Which is not what it was in the 1990s, when there were still fewer such active businesses.

any excuse is a good excuse
I need very little excuse to reprise one of my favorite all-time quotes, which is from the last of the Tribeca butter-and-egg guys, so is very relevant to this story:

You've never seen so many people under three feet high...


That was Steve Wils in a Downtown Express article from July 30, 2000, explaining why he moved his business to New Jersey in 1998, which I quoted in my March 12, Quote For The Day, 2000 edition. (That post has a bunch of links to old New York Times stories around the theme that Tribeca is changing.)

Various articles I have seen feature quotes from local residents or people who come to Tribeca for work or school complaining that Bazzini’s is closing, and about the change in the neighborhood. There are laments from residents of Independence Plaza (built in the early 1970s), nearby loft dwellers resident since the 1980s, kids from Stuyvesant High School (moved to Chambers and West Streets in 1992), workers from Citicorp up a few blocks on Greenwich Street (built in late 1980s), and I remember somewhere reading about a sad five-year old (born in the 2000s). You see where I am going here?

It is likely that all of these people came to the neighborhood because they liked its ‘character’, and the movement there of similarly like-minded people changed the character. Eventually, there were enough additional people living and working there that long-time businesses were no longer compatible with the new environment and new businesses were attracted to the new environment. Eventually, the people felt that the environment had tipped enough that it was no longer what it was before they moved there.

I suppose one could look at this phenomenon as an application of The Law of Unintended Consequences, but I might start calling it The Loft Law of Eventual Lament (on another day; don’t worry about that digression).

Here are some data points on a timeline for the area now known as Tribeca (formerly known as the Lower West Side):

  • 1886  21 Jay Street / 339 Greenwich Street built for Mohlmann family wholesale grocery business (per NY Times)
  • 1943 Bazzini family bought building (per NY Times)
  • 1968  Bazzinis start processing nuts there (“driven there from Park Place by urban renewal programs that swept many of its competitors to the Hunts Point market in the Bronx or out of the city entirely”; per NY Times)
  • 1972  Independence Plaza development began by city (middle income housing, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Washington Market Park), Greenwich Street from N. Moore to Chambers
  • mid-1980s  D’Amatos [sometimes “Damato”] buy five buildings along Greenwich and Jay Streets from Bazzini family (per NY Times); originally used in the business, the D’Amatos eventually sell them for residential development
  • 1986  Hotel Bar Butter leaves 16 Jay Street; there since 1947 (May 4, 1987 New York Magazine, starting at page 96)
  • 1987? PS 234 opens down the block from Bazzini’s
  • 1988  small Bazzini cafe opens on ground floor (1,000 sq ft)  (per Tribeca Trib)
  • 1996 zoning changed from industrial to permit residential (per NY Times)
  • 1997  Bazzini nut factory moves to Hunts Point, Bronx (per NY Times)
  • Wils butter and egg business moves to New Jersey
  • 1999  21 Jay Street conversion to 10 residential loft rentals (“2,000 to 2,600 square feet of space, are $7,200 to $9,400 a month. ...$15,000 and $17,000 for the two duplex penthouses, with 3,900 and 4,500 square feet”) (per NY Times) (later converted to condos)
  • 2002 amended condo declaration filed
  • April 2009  Downtown Express article about Bazzini plans to close
  • October 2009  Downtown Express identifies Sarabeth’s as potential new tenant
  • September 2010 Observer article about Sarabeth lease signing, 15 years

don't be mad at me, I am not blaming you
I am not saying that all change is good, or that people who liked the way things were are not entitled to complain. I am saying that change is inevitable, and that sometimes the people who complain about the changes bear responsibility for the changes. And I mean “responsibility” in a causation sense, not a moral sense.


© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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Sep. 21, 2010 - yet another Steinbrenner abomination


I knew him but never met him
Long-time Manhattan Loft Guy readers will not be surprised to know that I am a big baseball fan*, given the number of occasional baseball-themed discursions over the years. I was going to write something in July for a group of friends who were sharing thoughts on The Principal Owner of The NY Yankees, George Steinbrenner, and figured that if I was going to write anyway, I may as well write here. But I got bogged down, I started and stopped, and the timeliness (if any) faded.


However ...  I tuned in late to last night’s game and my jaw dropped at a picture of the “monument” unveiled before the game. (There are pictures of it everywhere on the inter-tubes, but Geo Vec has one in the NY Times, here.)  True to form in our dysfunctional relationship, TPOoTNYY once again set my blood on ‘boil’.

Be warned: if you have already read more on TPOoTNYY than you want to, put your hands up and step away from the monitor.

a monstrous monument
The Thing is 7 x 5 feet, dwarfing the other plaques in Monument Park. Is it ten times bigger, or only five times bigger than everything else??


Whether or not TPOoTNYY dictated the size, it is so typically George that it is a perfect reflection of his priorities, of his Being-In-Charge-ness, of his ego. The guy acted as if he were Larger Than Life, and now The Thing says that he was Larger Than Ruth (and Gehrig, and Dimaggio, et al.) by a factor of Five+.

The scale is so extreme, I can only imagine that the family’s extended discussion started with someone suggesting that they take up the entire wall as a monument, so that the ‘compromise’ to a plaque that is only 5 x 7 feet must have seemed a modest gesture.

back in July
I was fascinated after he died that so many articles, obits, memorials about TPOoTNYY attempted balance ... everyone seems to feel required to at least refer to The Dark Side of TPOoTNYY. (Will we get the same with Cheney, I wonder.) Here are three I collected from the Times back then,
here, here, and here, but they were everywhere that baseball fans or New Yorkers congregated.

our relationship
My first surviving baseball memories date from the 1964 World Series, so I matured as a baseball fan and as a Yankee fan in the Dark Ages of no World Series (1965 - 1975). TPOoTNYY arrived, of course, in 1973, but by then the Yankees were “my” team, as much as they could belong to anyone. He just put the money together to buy them. I took my dad (a recovering Indians fan) to his first World Series game, the Reggie game in 1977. My daughter threw a complete game her first time out (at age 4 months, the “day” they threw Bobbie Murcer so he could retire in mid-season with dignity and they could bring up a young good-glove-no-power first baseman who would later wear #23). I shared them with millions of others, but they were my team, dammit.


Sure, there were hints right away that TPOoTNYY might be a problem, but he did seem committed to winning.

By the time that I got a 16-game season package to Yankee Stadium in 1980 (Opening Day, all Sunday games, Old Timer’s Day, one holiday) it ws clear that TPOoTNYY was a problem, but it was still my team, and I resolved that even he could not ruin that relationship for me. Oh, how he tried!

People who did not live through it cannot appreciate the disgust felt by many True Yankee Fans (not all, but many): the “George Must Go!” chants in the stands; the photocopies of pictures of TPOoTNYY with a red circle and slash across his face; the game at which word circulated (from people listening to a radio in the Stadium??) that he had accepted a Lifetime Ban from baseball (probably over the paying-a-low-life-to-dig-dirt-on-your-best-player thing, but I can’t remember, and it is not important) ... the feeling after that announcement among Yankee fans was general euphoria. Metaphorical dancing in the streets, singing “Ding, dong, the witch is dead ...”; that   kind of euphoria.

But it didn’t last. Sigh.

After The Strike in 1994 I was disgusted with MLB as well as with TPOoTNYY. So when I dropped my season package after 16 years I wrote a two page letter to TPOoTNYY to explain. I didn’t want him to think it had anything to do with him bashing the Bronx as a place where nice people could not feel safe, or because he did not extort more parking concessions from the City, or because the subways were dangerous at night, or any of the other BS he promoted. I was disgusted with Baseball as an Industry, and with TPOoTNYY as an owner.

Imagine this: the letter became a minor classic among friends and friends of friends, but I never got a response from the Yankees after 16 years as a ticket holder.

winning excuses all? really??
The apologists for TPOoTNYY tend to balance any admitted shortcomings by noting (a) that he really wanted to win, and pushed ... err .... (to be most gentle) .... relentlessly to win, and (b) that he did ITAL make the Yankees winners. This apology is wrong on baseball terms and on moral terms.


In baseball terms, he was always a football guy who thought The Answer was always to try harder (giving 110% 120% of the time), while the baseball pros knew that this game required concentrated relaxation. I will forever believe that the Yankees succeeded in spite of efforts by TPOoTNYY to turn up the stress level so that they would hit the other guy harder, somehow.

Oh, and in baseball terms, people seem to forget that the seeds of The Great Yankee Teams of the late 1990s were sown when TPOoTNYY was banned from baseball (sadly, not for life) and could not force My Baseball People to trade away the young Jeters, Posadas, Pettittes, Riveras, et al., for former and waning All-Stars. By the time he came back (drat!), the momentum had swung and Gene Michael’s work was bearing fruit too obvious for even TPOoTNYY to ignore. (Thank you, Stick!)

In moral terms, the apologists have a lot to answer for. Results matter, but process cannot be ignored. John D. Rockefeller was an unscrupulous, rapacious, monopolist who built a huge industrial and financial empire, but there was more of a sense then that the Titans of Industry had been (would always be) Robber Barons; in that earlier time, it took two generations for the Rockefeller wealth to take on a sheen of respectability.

The apologists act as though TPOoTNYY made that transition in 25 years.

Worse, they act as though there was no other way for the Yankees to have succeeded, other than for TPOoTNYY to terrorize employees from the top of the food chain to the bottom (then to ‘atone’ by private acts of charity), to attack and belittle his players (from trying to extort Winfield out of his contract rights, to saying a young pitcher ‘spit the bit’ after a poor performance, to branding an imported pitcher a puss-y toad), to showing his ‘passion’ by fighting with (non-existent) Dodger fans in an elevator in LA, to ... (add your own personal lowlights).

some credit
TPOoTNYY and his executives put together a marvelous business, generating revenue that his competitors could not even dream about (and profits that were not too shabby). To his credit, he plowed the revenue into the team, creating a foundation that could make the Yankees perennial contenders indefinitely (unless The Sons pull a Wilpon; always a possibility, no?). I can’t take that away from him.


But to me (and many other mature Yankee fans), the Yankees succeeded in spite of TPOoTNYY, not because of him. His ego was such that the more loudly he claimed the mantle of Yankee Greatness the more crass his grasping became.

I always wanted to see an analysis of what TPOoTNYY did to the shipping company he inherited from his father, that generated the wealth he was able to leverage into a billion dollar Yankee franchise. I suspect he ran it into Davy Jones locker. His management “style” is indicated in this quote today from Cashman in that Geo Vec column, which is obviously intended by the GM to be complimentary:

“I can’t tell you how many people it takes to replace him,” Cashman said. “He was the ticket manager, the marketing director, the general manager, the manager in the dugout, the stadium manager.”

cue the baker
I misplaced my Steinbrenner angst two months ago, within a week or so after he died ... especially with the Fair and Balanced reporting and blogging that followed. But seeing that “monument” really takes the cake. Because I have no editor, I can just vent and click and my venting is on my blog. My blood temperature is down to 211 ... 209 ... 203 ... 190 ... but I am going to click anyway. Have a nice day.


*That’s “fan”, as in FANatic, of course.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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Sep. 20, 2010 - same floor lofts sell at 46 Mercer Street, in same condition but at different prices


East meets West, West wins
The Residential Sales Around The Region feature
in yesterday’s New York Times featured one Manhattan loft, 46 Mercer Street (also known as 473 Broadway, aka the Hohner Building), at $3.01mm after 17 weeks on the market. That is #6W, which city records (per Property Shark) peg as “1,901 sq ft” instead of “2,500 sq ft” and which came to market on March 6, went to contract by April 16 (6 weeks) and closed on June 1 (12+ weeks, not 17).

Aside from wondering why the Times is reporting about a loft sale from June 1, what caught my eye about this sale is that #6E next door sold on June 10 for $2.85mm. Why the $160,000 premium for #6W over #6E?

#6W was billed as a "no detail spared" renovation, with 2 bedrooms, office / den, and 3 baths. When #6E was marketed (briefly, unsuccessfully) in 2008 , the babble was only a slight variation (“no detail was overlooked”), but more enthusiastic about #6E than the 2010 prose for #6W. The footprint of #6E is the mirror image of its neighbor, though city records rate #6E as (very) slightly larger, at “1,958 sq ft”.

Is it the professional marketing of one and not the other, Mars?
The 8.8% spread between #6W at $1,583/ft and #6E at $1,455/ft (using #6e as the baseline) is larger than a rounding error. I was willing to ascribe the difference to the Power of Marketing (this is a StreetEasy “[n]o listing associated with this closing” transaction) until I discovered that StreetEasy is wrong: our data-base shows that this loft was offered for sale as a co-broke by Leslie J. Garfield & Co. from October 21, 2009 until it was marked as “temporarily off the market” as of May 26 (2 weeks before it sold).

It is possible that the sale was independent of Garfield (it does not show up on that firm’s brag page), but it seems clear that #6E was exposed to the market by Garfield for at least some time before the June 10 sale.

Aphorisms 'R Us
Frequent Manhattan Loft Guy readers can guess where this is going. (Waiting ....) Yes, the Manhattan real estate market is not efficient. (As in my August 15,
tales of one loft building / the inefficient market at 718 Broadway, circa 2006, weaker market, 2010.) Except when it is efficient (which is more rare; as in my August 26, loft market at 476 Broadway is pretty F'in efficient, and May 6, 2009, pretty efficient (depressed) market at 505 Greenwich Street as both 6F and 7F sell, off 25%).

and: Rants 'R Us
Now that I have ‘explained’ that, can someone please tell me why the NY Times reports on a loft sale that is 3.5 months old? I know the Residential Sales Around The Region is not the RECENT Residential Sales Around The Region, but are they trying to prove that print is dead as a “news” media? Sigh....


Because Manhattan Loft Guy might be re-titled as Manhattan Loft Anal Guy, I checked the closing dates of the other 3 Manhattan sales in Sunday’s real estate section: 335 West 21 St #2RE = June 24; I can’t find a 870 Riverside Drive closing, except in our data base, but the price at which #6C closed on July 6 does not match; 10 West End Av #11J = July 7. All these are more “recent” than #6W at the Hohner Building, but none is really recent. Sigh....

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 19, 2010 - thieving coop and condo property manager pleads guilty


we were speaking of crooks...
A soon-to-be-former-NYS-senator was the foil for Friday’s post about a cynical lack of morality within the Manhattan real estate industrial complex (September 17, the (low) morals of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, politics division); today I will revisit a (now) convicted bad guy who has done some serious damage to many Manhattan coops and condos, including at least one loft building.


I started the story at the beginning of the middle, with my January 30, post, why hire a low-life as property manager? 'cuz you didn't know, after a NY Daily News article from January 24 about property manager Richard Bassik of Downtown Properties being accused of scamming his coop and condo clients. Later, my July 2, low-life property manager INDICTED, continued the story in the late middle, when Bassik was indicted, and quoted from the District Attorney’s press release about the charges.

As I said in the July 2 post, the January 30 post:

included the story of one Bassik-managed Manhattan loft building that had escaped without a financial problem (so far?) and talked about what coops and condos can do in these situations (after the fact, not much; before hand, a lot).


closer to the end
There I was, this past Thursday evening, learning that we are at at least the beginning of the end of the story ... I had just finished reading
The Real Deal’s Thursday night piece announcing that Bassik pleaded guilty on Thursday to 14 counts when I got an email from a shareholder at one of the victimized coops with the same news. I wonder to what extent the inter-tubes were humming Thursday night, passing along this news among Manhattan coop and condo owners and boards....

The overview of the guilty plea, from TRD:

Property manager Richard Bassik has pleaded guilty to 13 counts of grand larceny and one charge of scheming to defraud, the Manhattan district attorney's office announced today. Through his company, Downtown Properties, Bassik stole upwards of $2.3 million from the 19 properties he managed, including several high-end co-ops and condominiums, cashing wrongfully issued checks and diverting funds from building bank accounts for his own personal use. The fraudulent activity took place between January 2005 and August 2006 ....


The middle of the end of the story will be when Bassik is sentenced on October 12. Apparently, the District Attorney’s office has told victims that the judge is likely to sentence Bassik to between 5 and 15 years in prison.

This sorry story won’t finally end for quite a while. I will need to deal with this in another post, but the story won’t end until the cascading effects of Bassik’s crimes get worked cleanly through the social fabric of the coops and condos that were victims. Here’s a preview: that rippling process will likely take years.

an (open) question of scale
Here is one troubling thing evident from the sources cited in my two prior posts: there are probably more victims, with more damage, than Bassik has pleaded to.


The January 24 Daily News article talked about 4 buildings that had lost "nearly $2mm"; the June 30 DA press release talked about $2.1mm stolen from 13 properties, between January 2005 and August 2009 (note that the TRD article says “January 2005 and August 2006”, a much shorter period; I haven’t seen the official document about the plea, so can’t tell if the right end date is 2006 or 2009). That is 9 additional victims and something more than $100,000 in additional losses discovered between January and June this year. The TRD piece last Thursday notes that Bassik “stole upwards of $2.3 million”, so the loss number grew another $200,000 or more since June.

Part of that increase is probably from the loft building that I mentioned in my January 30 post, which turns out not to have “escaped unscathed”, as they first thought. They filed a Victim Impact Statement stating that they had documented more than $30,000 in losses ... and suspected that there was more that they had not uncovered. I suspect that this is true of other Bassik-managed buildings as well; there are probably some who do not know they were victims, and probably others that suspect they lost more than they can know prove. The DA worked from numbers that could be proven in court; who knows what the real numbers are?

back to the late middle of the story
My July 2 post contained this bit of advice that is useful enough (and short enough) to repeat:

The things that coop and condo boards can do to protect their fellow owners are simple, limited, and effective:

  • pay attention
  • require multiple signatures for non-trivial checks, including a board member signature
  • check your property manager's bond and insurance limits, and compare those limits to the amount of money they manage
  • create a culture in which detailed scrutiny by the board is perceived as professional and a sign of good management instead of a sign of suspicion
  • and (first, last, and not least) ... pay attention

I won’t repeat the useful story about (Not) Out-running The Bear (too long for a too-long post), but that is there, too.

Manhattan Loft Guy note to self: write about how that rippling effect may cause lots of problems between coop shareholders / condo owners and boards, and among shareholders and owners. Soon.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 18, 2010 - laughing at economists / a Saturday diversion


the nation's only stand-up economist
A tip of the Manhattan Loft Guy cap to The Miller, for
a Wednesday link to a video deconstructing Ten Principles of Economics, providing some levity for a Black 15th Anniversary. I especially like the distinction between micro- and macro-economists. Enjoy!


© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 17, 2010 - the (low) morals of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, politics division


the (non) Quote Of The Day
If there’s a word “antidote”, should there be a word “antiquote”? I feel as though we need that word today, in looking at this quote in last night’s piece,
Espada, an ally of the real estate industry, mourned in defeat, from The Real Deal:

"Regardless of what you thought of Espada personally, his defeat was not good for the real estate industry,"


I have nothing personal against the guy who made that statement (we’ve never met, though I was disappointed when he cut off his pony tail). You do see him quoted a lot about Manhattan real estate, perhaps because he is a ‘good quote’: colorful, glib. But cute has its limits: I had to wash my hands after clicking through the TRD article.

My premise, obviously, is that I believe not-soon-enough-to-be-former-State-Senator Pedro Espada probably did the bad things he is accused of doing, and so is guilty of gross mis-use of his office (and probably of felonies). See, for example, this April 20 article from the Old Grey Lady about the Attorney General’s civil suit alleging that Espada wrongfully diverted $14mm from a non-profit he set up, whose board was controlled by his staffers and family associates. While these remain “allegations”, my sense is that the specific allegations about money being moved (or “diverted”) are likely to be true, and that any defense will rest on a claimed lack of personal knowledge, or careless book-keeping. No moral exculpation is likely.

My premise, obviously, is that I believe that unless someone is pretty convinced factually that Espada did not do these bad things, it is a shameful act to have voted for him. Worse, it is a shameful act to have donated money to him in the narrow belief that He Is Good For My Business, The Fate Of The State Be Damned.

As in, it is perfectly OK to have crooks in Albany, so long as those crooks keep my business interests in mind. It is important to note that this is not (in my opinion) a close question about Estrada. At a minimum, there is enough ‘smoke’ about him to suggest that anyone interested in Good Government would prefer a more-likely-to-be-honest senator to one with such smoke.

In other words, it is the height of cynicism to support this likely-crook because he helps you make money.

While the one guy who made the (Non) Quote Of The Day may have been less “circumspect” than other members of the Manhattan real estate industrial complex, the others are no less to be shamed for putting their money where our government dysfunction is:

Espada was clearly supported by New York's development community. A look at state financial disclosure forms from recent months turns up names like Stellar Management, which donated $5,000; Brookfield Properties ($2,500); Jack Rudin ($2,500); and Greenberg Traurig, the real estate law firm ($1,750).

Yes, yes, I know I am “naive” and I “don’t know How Things Work”. Boo! Hiss!

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 16, 2010 - "true Soho loft" at 169 Mercer St closes at $766/ft


how'd that happen?
It is difficult to argue that the block of Mercer Street just below Houston Street is Prime Soho, what with Silver Towers and NYU just to the north, but it certainly is a convenient location. And it is Soho, so how did the Manhattan loft on the
2nd floor at 169 Mercer Street close for only $766/ft, not to mention taking nearly a year to get even that??

2,350 sq ft One Bed Wonder
It has been quite a while since I was fixated on One Bed Wonders*, but this “2,350 sq ft” space was marketed as a “true One Bedroom One Bath Soho Loft”, with private space for only one bed here. Indeed, the very open Long-and-N
arrow floor plan just reeks of a 1970s or early ‘80s provenance, with the single bathroom squeezed along the long wall between the stairwell and kitchen, and the kitchen a simple all-appliances-and-utilities-along-the-wall, affair, with a long island for additional storage and seating. (I was suprised to learn that the recent seller bought in 1998 ... not 1988; my guess is that she did not move any walls.)

The building is 25 x 98 feet (per Property Shark), yet the entire back wall is a rather extravagantly large bedroom. (Obviously, the One Bed of Wonder!).

This layout hints at the reason it took a year to sell and got under $800/ft in Soho. No matter how chef-y the kitchen, if that is the only wall with plumbing stacks, any renovation will add a second bathroom; either further along that wall toward the (single, Wonderful) bedroom or, more likely, back-to-back with the present bathroom, pushing the kitchen down the wall and (probably) pivoted to perpendicular to the wall. And, of course, all but a single person or couple-without-plans-to-be-more would break up the (Wonderful) bedroom into two 12 foot wide bedrooms along that back narrow wall.

So add a minimum of $200/ft for someone to do a pretty complete build-out, with demolition. So a buyer who would put down ‘only’ 20% to buy this coop is committing $360,000 cash to buy and another half million or so to renovate. Without being able to easily finance the renovation expense (very likely), that is nearly $900,000 in cash and a mortgage of $1.44mm to own the opportunity to renovate this true Soho loft of “2,350 sq ft”. That  is what shrinks the market for a buy-and-build-out loft these days. Even among the relatively few people with the time, talent and patience to buy-and-build, not too many of them have $900k in cash, with enough left over to pass a coop board.

your reward is great (probably)
If a 2nd floor buyer were to make that $500k renovation investment on top of the $1.8mm purchase, there should still be some upside in The Market. The only other loft in the building to trade in available records was the 7th (top) floor, which has the benefit of open views along the long south wall, plus skylights for additional light. That sold in a classically minty condition in 2006 (a market frequently even, or a little behind the 2010 market) at $2.9mm. Even allowing for the difference between 7th-floor-with-light-and-views and the 2nd floor, that’s a lot of upside for the 2nd floor buyer.


a (happy) birthday loft
Note the patience (stubbornness?) of the December to May period:

May 27, 2009 $2.295mm
Oct 12 $2.1mm
Dec 30 $1.925mm
May 6, 2010 contract
Aug 31  $1.8mm


By the time the listing had the (dreaded) first birthday, it had been in contract for 3 weeks. Whew!

* "One Bed Wonder" is a Manhattan Loft Guy locution for an unusually large space configured for a single person, or a couple sharing one bed. My all-time fave was the very first one I profiled, but here are links to five early posts about that genus:

Feb 24, 2007, what is a One Bed Wonder?
Feb 27, 2007, really big One Bed Wonders with really big prices at 716 Broadway + 32 Laight
Feb 28, 2007, smaller but still One Bed Wonder-full at 644 Broadway + 30 W 13
April 25, 2007, wondering about the 1 Bed Wonder at 543 Broadway / how much for how big?
Jan 29, 2008, limits of the loft form / 448 Greenwich St

(MLG note to self: revisit the One Bed Wonder phenomenon, or at least Tag ‘em when I see ‘em)

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 15, 2010 - bidding war after 9 months, 6 price drops at 244 West 23 Street loft


timing is everything
That hoary chestnut “it only takes one (buyer)” is dear to every seller’s heart, while the very optimistic sellers also love “it only takes two (to have a bidding war)”. These bromides cause a lot of sellers to make mistakes, but sometimes they are ... you  know ... true. I came across the Manhattan loft
#5B at 244 West 23 Street as I was recently cleaning up my Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 . It is worth a post, even though it closed almost two months ago, because it is that rare bird: after many months of having no one interested, a (mild) bidding war erupted after the last price drop, and it closed on July 19 $25,000 above the ask.

Here’s the history:

Sept 10, 2009 $1.62mm
Sept 30 $1.52mm
Oct 6 $1.5mm
Nov 2 $1.49mm
Jan 29, 2010 $1.465mm
Feb 13 $1.41mm
Feb 18 $1.375mm
May 2 contract!

I have already ruined the punchline, as you can figure out that the contract was signed at $1.4mm.

Of course I don’t know what the sellers and agent talked about from September into April, but a reasonable guess is that these sellers were frustrated. And motivated. Note the three prices in four weeks at the start; note the three prices in three weeks after New Year’s. Note the resistance implied by holding at that last price for ten weeks before signing a contract.

that one buyer
Any reasonable buyer prepared to pay up to $1.4mm for this loft in May was probably pretty new to the market as a buyer; otherwise she’d have bid in October, if not from the begining.

Any reasonable buyer prepared to pay up to $1.4mm for this loft in May probably figured that no one else was interested in the loft, or it would have long since sold. Hence, she would naturally have assumed that the sellers would be negotiable from that last $1.375mm asked.

Imagine how surprised that solitary reasonable buyer prepared to pay up to $1.4mm for this loft was when she found out that there was another bidder (who must also have been new to the market, and was probably surprised to have company).

those two bidders
While the sellers were able to squeeze only a $25k premium over the asking price in those late April - early May negotiations, there must have been some satisfaction in not having to further cut their price to make a deal. I am guessing that the second bidder was worth at least $50k for the sellers, as they most likely would have had to give up at least $25k from their asking price if negotiating with a single buyer.


the metaphysics of The Market
Looking at this another way, if the loft was worth $1.4mm in May (a ‘fact’ established by the arm’s length transaction), then it must have been worth $1.4mm for at last some time before hand. (What changed from January 1, for example??)

But, if the loft was not worth $1.4mm in February (a ‘fact’ established by the failure to sell off the $1.41mm asking price), then how could it have been worth $1.4mm in May?

paging Yul Brenner
‘tis a puzzlement. But the odd stuff is what makes it fun! (Unless you are a frustrated-but-motivated seller, or a surprised bidder, perhaps.)


© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

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Sep. 14, 2010 - why didn't the loft at 252 West 30 Street sell at The Peak?


not one trend, but another
The Manhattan loft 252 West 30 Street #6B does not quite fit a pattern that regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know intrigues me (the pattern of lofts that did not sell in 2009 at $Xmm selling in 2010 at or near that same price). This "1,750 sq ft" condo loft at Chelsea's northern fringe sold on August 23 at $1.51mm and was another Bang! Zoom! sale (see below), as it took all of 15 days in May to find a contract.

But I am scratching my head about why it had not sold when it was offered just after The Peak, from May 2008 to February 2009, from $1.695mm to $1.595mm. That seems within spitting distance (err ... negotiating range) of the August 2010 clearing price of $1.51mm. What happened?

a data hole
I don't know why, but this loft is hard to track (impossible to track for a civilian). The August 23 sale shows as "[n]o listing associated with this closing" on StreetEasy. I know that StreetEasy is sometimes referred to as the closest Manhattan equivalent to a Multiple Listing Service (it is a very useful tool in our environment), but this sale is one indication that is not. (Oh how I wish we had a real MLS!) In this instance, the inter-firm data-base shows that #6B was offered for sale through The Level Group on May 5 and went into contract by May 20. Only the most cogno of the cognoscenti will recognize that The Level Group is the new name for the (even more?) unfortunately named Pari Passu Realty.

The Level listing is still on their public web site as "in contract" so it may fall away when (if?) they update. For now, you can find it here. Maybe StreetEasy missed it in the changeover from Pari Passu to Level???

peaking at an unsuccessful sale
The Halstead no sale listing is on StreetEasy, where you will see that this loft had been offered from May 2008 to February 2009 starting at $1.695mm and dropping to $1.595mm on September 8, 2008. Maybe that unfortunate date is the clue to my question about why it had not sold off these asking prices in a pretty active market, yet sold in August 2010 off only 5% from the last ask: they were asking $1.595mm for less than a week when Lehman filed for bankruptcy, then everyone held their breath, then banks shut down (much) lending, then buyers ran to the sidelines, then we were in the full-fledged Nuclear Winter of Manhattan real estate.

Maybe.

Of course, I don't know if the sellers had any offers through the Summer of 2008 off the $1.695mm asking price, or whether they then considered themselves negotiable (had there been an offer) enough to work down from $1.695mm to $1.51mm. Certainly a lot of people missed the fact that The Market Had Changed, even before Lehman ... that The Peak was more or less coops or condos that closed in the first quarter of 2008.

hindsight is a female dog
It would have taken a discount of 11% for the sellers to have gotten to a $1.51mm sale in Summer of 2008, a discount level that was commonplace in 2009 but may have seemed like too much to swallow until they faced the music and dropped the price in that fateful September. To get a good visual on how active that May - August 2008 market was, check again the green lines the contracts signed per month chart in Mr. UrbanDigs September 6 post, The August Lull. Short story: many contracts were signed in each of those months, so there were a lot of buyers around then, pulling cash out of their pockets (and out of their lenders).

If the two owners had any offers then, and if one owner persuaded the other not to negotiate (enough), I wonder if they entered couples therapy after The Market froze and it took another 20 months after Lehman to sell. Ouch.

awkward footprint
I have not (yet) described the loft. Yes, it appears to have been renovated in the not-to-distant past, as the overall condition is babbled in that unsuccessful 2008-2009 listing description as "recently renovated and is in excellent condition" [if A, then B, right??], while the kitchen is specified as "newly renovated open kitchen features a Bosch range and dishwasher, lustrous white cabinets with recessed pulls, and granite countertops". Is this language ("can easily be redesigned to suit your personal needs and preferences") a hint that the layout is not ideal?

I bet that the walk-in closet can be turned into a second bath (it has a washer-dryer already and sits between the kitchen and the [now] single bath). Having two bathrooms in a "1,750 sq ft" loft would help.

Is that the longest master bedroom you've ever seen, in proportion to the overall size of the loft? Those 3 side windows in the master look to be lot line windows, with no view and (likely) little light, so all "solutions" to the over-sized bedroom 'problem' are imperfect; if you cut it in half and keep the 'real' window, that bedroom is now far from the bath and teh walk-in closet; if you cut it in half and use the other end, there may be little light.

But I bet the next owner has tried to do something to shorten that bedroom and open up the space, which would also solve the 'problem' of the current long and narrow living room. And put in a second bath.

Loft #6B sold for $863/ft 3 weeks ago, even with these awkward layout issues. Among neighboring sales, #6B at $863/ft compares favorably to #5A and the #14. Loft #5A traded at $1.325mm for "1,542 sq ft" in April ($859/ft) in probably equal-or-or-better condition than #6B and certainly in a move-in floor plan that is far superior (3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a corner that seems to have real windows on two sides). Those sellers came out in June 2009 at $1.475mm, as The Market had started to thaw.

The 14th floor went through the teeth of the chilly market, coming out in October 2008 (about six weeks after Lehman) at $2.3mm before selling in September 2009 at $1.55mm (ouch). This "1,750 sq ft" 3 bedroom + 3 bath loft is not very comparable to #6B or #5A, as it has three terraces and four exposures providing "outstanding light all day long" and views of the Empire State and downtown skyline. At $886/ft without taking the 14th floor outdoor space into account, these folks got slaughtered in The Market, but show that #6B at $863/ft (even with the layout issues) was not too bad.

$863/ft is not as well as they might have done before Lehman, but not too bad overall. Especially considering that the August 2010 #6B sellers had bought it in January 2006 (before renovating) at $1.35mm. Or considering that #7B sold in May 2006 at $1.575mm in better condition and layout (3 bedrooms + 2 baths), with two walls of windows that clear adjoining buildings, offering "open downtown views", "sky and sunshine all day", and sunsets. (What a difference one floor higher can make!) I will stop now, I promise....

those Bang! Zoom! sales
But not before noting the other parts of the trend of which the quick 252 West 30 Street #6B sale is a part. This loft is now the third loft profiled recently that spent very little time "in the market" before closing within 4 days of each other last month. The others were, of course, Penthouse E at 73 Worth Street, which I hit in yesterday's bidding war over penthouse loft at 73 Worth Street that started at 2006, and the 5th floor at 11 West 20 Street, which I profiled in my September 9 post, 11 West 20 Street loft zooms through market, beats higher floor.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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Sep. 13, 2010 - bidding war over penthouse loft at 73 Worth Street that started at 2006


winning at putting, puttering

The Manhattan loft #PH-E at 73 Worth Street is another loft that recently raced to contract, like the loft in my September 9 post, 11 West 20 Street loft zooms through market, beats higher floor. Long story, short: to market on June 3 at $2.395mm; in contract by June 24 at a premium; closed on August 20, so the sellers put $2.475mm in their pocket (and the bank's coffers) and walked away 11 weeks after they started selling. But this is Manhattan Loft Guy, so you know you will hear a longer story....

first, the loft
Duplexed lofts can be awkward: some feel boxy-upon-boxy; some cheat by taking high ceilings and making you feel cramped. This one is a true penthouse and a true duplex (built as such), with a Long-and-Narrow lower level on the rooftop, set back from the building edges, with terraces at either end, and an upper level (further set back) with the master suite and a den / 4th bedroom, and yet another terrace. With south-facing glass walls in both levels, there will not be many Tribeca lofts with more light. There are said to be "2,015 sq ft" of interior space, and "800 sq ft" in the three terraces.

The babble is enthusiastic without being hysterical. There are proper proper names in the right places, and this is the first listing description that I recall to ever use both "putting" and "puttering". Nicely played, ma'am, nicely played.

the history
Whether or not the early bird of lore gets that worm, the modest sellers get the contract. And these sellers were modest.

They paid the funny number $2,392,887 in March 2006. Many, many sellers are tempted to test The Market; many fewer are motivated to take the money and run. These sellers announced thtat they were money-runners by asking only $2,113 more than they had paid 51 months earlier. Even calling this "more" is a bit misleading, as they essentially just rounded to the nearest $5,000 increment.

There were two prior 2010 sales in the building when they came to market in June. Unit 5D is a similar size (simplex; 'only' 2 bedrooms) at "1,925 sq ft"; it cleared on February 4 at $907/ft, without considering a small (130 sq ft) balcony. Unit 5B is a bit bigger, at "2,571 sq ft", with 'only' 3 bedrooms; it traded on January 21 at $1,007/ft. Roughing out an average per-foot interior value from these two building comps within 6 months, that's $957/ft; extrapolated to Penthouse E, that's just over $1.9mm for the interior. Perhaps they rounded up, to an even $2,000,000 of implied interior value, making a positive adjustment for the higher floor, better light and true penthouse nature of their unit, while still staying within the achieved price-per-foot of #5B at $1,007/ft.

If they were so formulaic and got to a $2mm value for their "2,015 sq ft" interior, when the Penthouse E sellers priced at $2.395mm they were (intentionally or not) using The Miller Rule for valuing outdoor space by discounting the very useful, very private, very integrated terraces by at least 50%. (See May 6, riffing with The Miller on the value of Manhattan terraces, decks + balconies.) For the anal among you, that would work this way:

$992/ft for 2,105 interior sq ft = $2mm
  plus
$992/ft for 400 exterior sq ft (discounting the actual terraces by 50%) = $396,800
  total = $2,396,800

I have no idea how these sellers actually came up with their asking price. But it is interesting (or, perhaps, coincidental) that it is (relatively) easy to back out a very justifiable theory, based on two same-building-same-year prior sales and The Miller Rule for outdoor space.

Of course, it is even more interesting that The Market found that asking price of $2.395mm inadequate, by $80,000. Only a 3% premium, but a premium nonetheless, achieved within 3 weeks.

Nicely played, sellers, nicely played.

"slow" Summer did not begin in June (at least for 2 lofts)
You hear a lot about seasonality, and a lot about how the fast(er) market of 2010 slowed down in the Summer. You'd never know it from these two lofts, however. Unless June is too early to be called Summer. (UrbanDigs always does a good job on trend theories like Seasonality, often attacking The Anecdotes with Actual Data [how refreshing!]; see Noah's September 6, The August Lull, for one such discussion.)

Compared to the 5th floor at 11 West 20 Street (June 2 to June 18 contract), the 73 Worth Street #PH-E was a relative laggard (June 3 to June 24). But I am sure they were not complaining when the movers pulled up on Worth Street last month.

net, net
Molto props to the sellers of Penthouse E at 73 Worth Street and their BHS agent, Jennie Holman.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

 

 

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Sep. 11, 2010 - same day, another year


This year I am only going to offer two quotes from a mother who lost a daughter and a not-yet-grandchild that day, taken from her essay, The Sensitivities of 9/11 Families:

Since that morning, time in my world is no longer linear--it undulates, circles around the anniversary. 

For most of us who lost loved ones on that morning, there is no corner. There is no distance in time. We are still there. In the moment. At the site. Walking the pile. You don't leave your children or your mother or father or cousin or best friend there and walk away. Time collapses. For most people in America, 9/11 comes around once a year, but not for me. For me, it is always here.

My experience of that day is different from hers. No less real, and infinitely less painful, but different. Yours is different from mine, and from hers.


© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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Sep. 9, 2010 - 11 West 20 Street loft zooms through market, beats higher floor


it's the renovation, Mars
If you blinked in June, you missed the Manhattan loft on the 5th floor of 11 West 20 Street. This "2,205 sq ft" full floor condo loft came to market on June 2 and was in contract by June 18. Zoom!

The 5th floor closed on August 24 and (no surprise) got the full ask of $2.26mm. The broker babble is very enthusiastic about the "recent renovation by an award-winning architect", which renovation is probably might be why the 5th floor did better than the 8th floor when that loft closed on February 11.

about the renovation...
The layout is classic Long-and-Narrow: 2 bedrooms split the back wall, plumbing on both sides permits the second bedroom an en suite bath while lining up the master bath, half-bath and kitchen on the long wall opposite, a window-less office is opposite the public staircase, and the kitchen opens to the living room at the front, with four south-facing 9-foot windows. The classic loft features that remain are the barrel vaulted ceilings, brick walls, and hardwood flooring. The most interesting modern improvement is the externally vented stove ... from the 5th floor in a 9-story building (!).

was it the windows, Mars?
Given that the 8th floor loft has exactly the same footprint as the 5th floor loft, they are a study in contrasts. First, as to market response; second as to layout.

The 8th floor came back to the market in November at $2.25mm and hardly lingered. In contrast to the full-price contract in 16 days on the 5th floor in June, the 8th floor took all of 5 weeks to get a contract at $2.15mm, only a slight discount. (When it had been offered earlier, the ask was $2.495mm, in the teeth of the Nuclear Winter, December 2008 to June 2009.) That slight discount from the 8th floor (last) ask amounted to a similarly slight discount compared to the recent sale of the renovated 5th floor. The less enthusiastic babble in the 8th floor listing descriptions suggests that the 8th floor was in a bit more 'dated' condition than the "recent renovation' on the 5th floor, but the 8th floor floor plan is also rather awkward.

On the 8th floor, those four huge north windows in the back are 'shared' only by the master bedroom and master bath, leaving a second "bedroom" and an office without windows on one long wall. That suggests to me that the layout hasn't changed in quite a while, after some prior owner built it out as a one-bedroom-with-other-spaces. The result is not a layout that should compete well with 'real' 2 bedroom floor plans. But in this case it actually did compete, allowing for an adjustment of $110,000 between the 5th and 8th floors due to condition.

It is also interesting how the 5th floor and 8th floor dealt with brick. On the 5th floor, the exposed brick walls are painted white and it appears that they uncovered the brick in the barrel vaults of the ceilings. On the 8th floor they merely sealed the (natural) brick walls, while leaving the barrel vaults painted white (not clear if the vaults are opened to the brick, or whether the vaults are covered). Different strokes, different folks.

how recent should "recent" be?
Look at the pictures for the 5th floor listing and see if they are not perfectly described by this listing description:

Magnificently renovated and in triple mint condition, this 2 bedroom, 2,5 bathroom (plus home office) loft encompasses a generously proportioned entertaining area with an adjoining open plan kitchen resplendent with professional stainless steel appliances and natural stone countertops. The grand Master Suite with it's walk-in closets features a jacuzzi and dual sinks. The entire apartment is centrally air-conditioned and wired with a 4 zone, hi-tech stereo system.  

That is, of course, a listing description for the 5th floor.

But from 2006. Two thousand SIX. (Same floor plan as 2010, also.)

fun with numbers
The 5th floor was marketed like that from April 2006 to a contract in November (it sold on January 18, 2007). The asking price Way Back Then was $2.25mm, then $2.125m; the clearing price was that last ask, $2.125mm. Yes, that is (just) $135,000 less than the 5th floor just sold for.

It is no surprise that the 8th floor was in exactly the same condition in 2007 as when it sold last February. You can't see more than one photo, but when the 8th floor was marketed in December 2006, our data base has the same (awkward) floor plan as the 2010 plan, and that single photo has the white ceilings and (natural) brick walls as in the recent marketing.

You noticed, just now, that the 5th floor went to contract November 2006 and that the 8th floor was marketed in December 2006, right? If the listing and contract dates can be believed (our data base matches what StreetEasy has), it was the 8th floor that zoomed through the market in 2006: listed December 12, contract December 18 ... an almost impossible sequence. Of course, with that trajectory, it is a bit odd that the 8th floor closed on February 6, 2007 at $2.15mm, a slight discount from the $2.25mm ask.

That is $25,000 more than the 5th floor got 2 weeks earlier. And exactly the same price as the 8th floor got three years later. Let's simplify (I hope, I hope):

5th   new to market April 2, 2006 $2.25mm
5th   contract Nov 23 $2.125mm
  8th new to market Dec 12 $2.25mm
  8th contract Dec 18 $2.15mm
5th   closed Jan 18, 2007 $2.125mm
  8th closed Feb 6 $2.15mm
    ... time passes ...    
  8th new to market Nov 23, 2009 $2.25mm
  8th contract Dec 29 $2.15mm
  8th closed Feb 11, 2010 $2.15mm
5th   new to market June 2 $2.26mm
5th   contract June 18 $2.26mm
5th   closed Aug 24 $2.26mm

to the trees!
I am going to go out on a short limb here and conclude that both sets of paired sales are within the range reasonable variation in a Manhattan real estate market that this not-very-efficient. In 2006/07 the spread was $25,000 in favor of the 8th floor. In 2009/10 the spread shifted in favor of the 5th floor, at $110,000. I would think that there would be a deeper market for a more recently renovated space with two real bedrooms (5th floor), so the 2010 spread is easier to explain.

And, yes, that is real money (especially $110,000), but normal variation (even 5%).

© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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Sep. 8, 2010 - asking $1.495mm did not work for 148 West 23 Street loft, but asking $1.575mm did


can't (really) blame the calendar
I've talked before about lofts that did not sell during the nuclear winter of Manhattan real estate that followed the Lehman bankruptcy (two years ago next week!), but the recent sale of the combined Manhattan loft #1CD at 148 West 23 Street (Chelsea Mews) does not quite fit that pattern.

When this loft did not sell in 2009 when it was asking $1.495mm, it already missed the chilly part of 2009 (coming out in September), and it stayed out at that same price until February 8, 2010. You'd think that a buyer willing to spend $1.41mm might have found it by then.

But sometimes The Market is just odd. Let's lay it out before chewing on it.

double height and double wide
Our database shows this loft as "1,770 sq ft", with 18 ft ceilings that provide the volume for duplexed bedrooms. Although "recently renovated to posh perfection", the two mirror-image lofts appear to have been combined since at least the owner-before-last (2002). And an odd combination it is.

I am not saying that the renovation was not posh or perfect, just that they have left an awful lot of Two Loft things in place, including two stairways (needed if there is no transit point upstairs between the bedrooms), two entrances (with matching hall closets), and one long stretch of living room wall with another shorter length (much more than the load-bearing column needed to keep the upper floor duplexes up). And there's not a lot of privacy in the two upper level bedrooms, both being open to the lower level and them sharing some kind of sliding door. I assume (hope) that it works better as built than it appears as drawn, but it surely appears to do The Absolute Minimum Needed To 'Combine' Adjoining Lofts.

But the really odd thing is the price history, not the layout.

bad luck in late 2009?
Here's what happened:

Sept 30, 2009 new listing $1.495mm
  ... nothing ...  
February 8, 2010 off the market  
March 31 new firm $1.575mm
July 7 contract $1.41mm
Aug 25 closed $1.41mm

It's that "nothing" that is odd here, given that The Market was much deeper in the 4th quarter of 2009 than earlier in 2009, and given that there was a shorter bridge to the clearing price from the 2009 asking price of $1.495mm than from the new 2nd quarter 2010 asking price of $1.575mm.

Perhaps there was simply no one interested in this space from September 2009 into February 2010, and then exactly one person interested in this space in June 2010 (who had not been looking before). That would explain it, but it seems odd.

Still. And probably more-so to the agents who were trying to sell at $1.495mm, unsuccessfully.

on that 2010 - is - not - 2009 theme
We've been here before, probably most recently in my July 23, 1200 Broadway loft closes near 2009 ask, where I said:

I know you don't need them, but here are the basic links: my July 7 post, 12 examples of the (rapid) velocity of the Manhattan loft market, and my July 8 post, another sign that 2010 is not 2009, as 60 West 15 Street loft sells.

Apparently, I did not start using 'nuclear winter' as

a tag

until June this year.


© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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Sep. 7, 2010 - visualizing The Market / Manhattan real estate fun at Urban Digs


more to come, he promises
Noah Rosenblatt over at Urban Digs has long been working on data sets, and is getting ever so much closer to being able to publish what will be unique information about the Manhattan real estate market. His latest teaser (The August Lull) looks at monthly data for contracts signed and new listings, back to 2008. What he's focused on is the Very Slow Summer we've had (for both contracts and new listings, both starting to slow down in May this year), but what struck me visually was The Lehman Effect.

Look especially at the way contracts signed fell off the cliff from October 2008 through January 2009, then slowly (very slowly) increased during February through April 2009. Nuclear winter, indeed. Of course, you may find other things here that will grab you.

You will see that he says these kind of charts "will be launched very soon". Yes, he's been saying that for a while now, but stay tuned....

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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Sandy Mattingly is Manhattan Loft Guy; now with The Corcoran Group (http://corcoran.com/ ; but see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page), he can be reached most easily at Sandy@ManhattanLoftGuy.com or 917.902.2491, and followed on Twitter @ManhattnLoftGuy (note "mis-spelling"). After 7+ years, the blog has moved. Links here on RealTown will work for the foreseeable future, but new posts (and all the old content) has migrated to ManhattanLoftGuy.com.

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