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Manhattan Loft Guy

Sep. 5, 2013 - 90 Franklin Street loft history more like a moving picture than a market snapshot


1 loft, 13 years of activity and inactivity

If you wanted a Big Picture review of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market over a bunch of market cycles, you’d do well to play with The Miller’s latest 3 Cents Worth chart for Curbed (Manhattan Puts Best [Square] Foot Forward), in which he looks at Total Square Footage sold in Manhattan as a market measure going way back to 1989, delineating 8 different market periods. If you wanted a set of pictures from the vantage point of a single Tribeca loft in 5 of those periods, you’d be interested in the full history of the “1,895 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2N at 90 Franklin Street (Franklin Tower), one of the 2000-era new developments that were sold in the Dot-Com Boom (in The Miller’s taxonomy of eras).


Buying from the sponsor in the Dot-Com Boom ($815,000), that original owner tried to sell before that Boom ended (failed from $1.495mm to $1.195mm), then succeeded in selling in the Bubble (at $1.575mm; the Bubble was earlier than you think); the second owner re-sold in the era of New Dev to someone who tried to sell twice in the Rebound (from $2.695mm to $2.15mm) then finally sold in the current era, No Supply, at $2.45mm. That’s a long trip down memory lane, with many signposts.

Hence, one very long table, in this case supplemented with the beginning dates of the relevant eras, under The Miller’s taxonomy (the dates not on StreetEasy are taken from our listing system):

2Q 1999

Dot-Com Boom


Mar 22, 2000

sponsor sale


Oct 22, 2001

new to market


May 13, 2002



May 24



May 28



Aug 12



4Q 2002



Nov 6



May 6, 2003

off the market


July 19, 2004

new to market


Aug 18



Oct 1




1Q 2006

New Dev


Jan 28, 2007

new to market


Mar 23



Aug 8



Nov 27

new to market


Jan 3, 2008



Feb 14

change firms


Mar 10



June 17

off the market


4Q 2008



June 16, 2010

new to market


Dec 10



Mar 16, 2011

back on market


April 26



Sept 15

off the market


4Q 2011

No Supply


Mar 20, 2013

new to market


April 12



June 13



Get your Three Cents Worth from The Miller as to why he cut the market this time by total square footage sold rather than by price. I can’t be as precise as The Miller (or as well-supported by data) but if you were to use the eras I often use (based on prices and sales activity), regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy will know that I generally talk about The Froth (2006-07), The Peak (1Q 2008), the post-Lehman Nuclear Winter (September 15, 2008 through 2Q 2009), and the Recovery (3Q 2009 …) as being conventional market eras based on activity and values.

Looking at the #2N history, you see that Franklin Tower as a new development was part of the Dot-Com Boom, which that original purchaser tried to take advantage of for a year and a half, without success. But look at the difference between 2004 and 2002-3: sold at $1.575mm; unsold down to $1.195mm … quite a turn in The Market. That first owner enjoyed a gain of 93% in 4+ years, but it was a lot of work.

That second owner anticipated The Peak, got a quick contract and closed just 5 months pre-Peak. That was a 32% gain in 3 years.

The third owner is the recent seller, gaining (only!) 18% in 6 years, also having put a great deal of effort into it. The attempt to quickly flip into The Peak to gain as much as 30% didn’t work; that series of unsuccessful prices in the 7 months right around The Peak is a tantalizing suggestion that the recent sale at $2.45mm compares very well to what might have been available at The Peak. And the unsuccessful efforts in 2010 and (especially) 2011 show how much stronger the current market is than those markets.

I doubt very much if anyone likes staring at market histories like this as much as I do, but if you are inclined, this long history is very rich. (Look, for example, of how soon after each sale the owners tried to cash out.)

enough with those numbers … to the loft!

The loft is nearly square, with a floor plan that is less than ideal (nearly) square for having just one exposure.  As a result of the single exposure, layout options are limited, though the 2-bedroom, 2-bath layout is efficient in a (sigh) blandly cookie-cutter, uptown “apartment kind of way.  Extend the kitchen to the north wall and this floor plan would look just like one in a new condo in the 80s, on either side of town.

If the listing descriptions can be believed, the loft sounds as though it is in the same condition as when the sponsor sold it (state of the art at the turn of the century), though the floors seems to have been changed from maple to walnut at some point. Original Boffi kitchen;though perhaps the master bath has been upgarded (always Waterworks, though the newer babble has more detail, including “custom Carrabianco marble and white lacquer vanity, marble subway tile, . .. Phillipe Starck for Duravit commode“.

The babble claims some lemonade from the single exposure on the second floor: “western light and classic city views”. There’s no picture supporting the classic city view claim, but the loft sits exactly where 6th Avenue and Church Street split, so it is a double-wide avenue, angling toward a view (possibly) that includes the Tribeca Grand and the American Thread Company. With low buildings across that double avenue, there’s probably as much western light as you are going to get anywhere on a second floor that does not sit on a park or the Hudson.

more numbers

You can fill out the already pretty detailed market review from the long #2N history by looking at recent past sales in the building. Apart from the monster full floor sale this year, the last sales here were a year ago.  The “2,633 sq ft” #7S sold on August 16, 2012 for $3.3mm ($1,253/ft) and the “1,895 sq ft”  #5N sold on August 1, 2012 at $2mm ($1,055/ft). At the 5th floor, this line gets 3 north windows in the living room, yet a year ago, #5N asked $2.5mm and $2.395mm before settling at $2mm , 22% less than #2N two months ago. (Someone might prefer the finishes of #2N to those of #5N, but that is one heck of a spread from a busy market in 2012 to the current [very] busy market.)

broker babble that makes me laugh

I also doubt very much if anyone gets as much enjoyment out of broker babble absurdities as I do. A rough sum of the periods in which loft #2N has been actively offered for sale (counting to the closings ) reveals that the loft has been offered for sale since being sold by the sponsor 13 years ago at least 6 different times for a total of more than 4 years (51 months).  Granted, that’s only about a third of the time, but  you wouldn’t see me saying the loft was “rarely available”.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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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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