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Manhattan Loft Guy

Sep. 4, 2013 - a tale of 2 kidneys, 4 years ... 4th Kidneversary already


a sweet new year, no?

If you are a loyal long-time reader, you know this personal datum about The Guy at Manhattan Loft Guy: 4 years ago today I entered Columbia Presbyterian Hospital with two kidneys but left with one kidney. The wife of someone who works in the same school as my wife entered with two dysfunctional kidneys and left with one very excellent, high functioning kidney. I bring this up every year at this time not to boast (everyone does what everyone can, right?) but to go all Sally Struthers on ya. That’s below, but here’s the history, for you loyal long-time readers whose memories are (well) (you know):

I posted this the morning of, as we were heading to surgery: September 4, 2009, do any of you people know how to pray?

The school at which our spouses work did a piece about our new connection for the community newsletter, which got a link in my January 20, 2010, adventures in nephrology / about that kidney donation....

The prior anniversary posts are (slightly) different ways to tell (mostly) the same story:

The chances are pretty good that you are one degree of separation from someone who needs a kidney donation; you may even be that close to someone (else) who has made a living kidney donation. While the need is remarkably common, finding a kidney for transplant is a tough needle to thread.

Not everyone is suitable or interested in donating a kidney while alive; I understand that. What I don’t understand is someone who would not make arrangements for their kidney (and any other usable parts) to be used to benefit others after that person is done using them. I.e., has died.

It’s really simple to register your intention to donate on your demise. It’s really needed. I won’t make you click through the past Manhattan Loft Guy posts: go to the NY Organ Donor Network for links with information and resources, one of which (spoiler alert!) will take you to this NYS Department of Motor Vehicles link to register on-line as a donor (it’s a little cumbersome to set up; you can also do it by mail but you won’t, so take the time to do it on-line), with bonus videos from Dr. Oz.

If you don’t know who Sally Struthers is, think commercials for charities. Hence this from my first anniversary post:

I feel like Sally Struthers
Thousands of people die every year without having gotten the organ donation that could save their lives. Millions of people die every year without having made arrangements to donate any usable organs. You can do something about that today.


We are having dinner tonight to celebrate, even though it is Rosh Hoshanah. I like this closing from last year’s post:

If you have a different way to do something good today, feel free to improvise. And send some warm thoughts my way, and Susan’s, on our anniversary.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Sep. 3, 2013 - jaw-dropping views provoke jaw-dropping price for 261 Broadway loft


raising the roof

Yes, the “1,140 sq ft” Manhattan loft #12B at 261 Broadway has the jaw-dropping views claimed in the broker babble (especially if you like to give traffic reports to friends interested in driving over the Brooklyn Bridge), but the fact that it just sold at a 19% premium to its prior sale in 2007 and at a premium to the previous dollar-per-foot record high sales makes my jaw ache even more. The loft came out on April 18 at $1.595mm and found the contract by May 9 that closed (you have to click around on StreetEasy, dammit) at $1.705mm on July 17. That’s 3 weeks to contract 7% over the ask, and $1,496/ft, but wait, there’s more!

The loft just sold in the same condition as when it sold for $1.435mm on May 17, 2007 (no pix survive, but that old listing description makes that clear). You’ve already been told that that $210,000 gain is a 19% premium; that was a pre-Peak sale, of course, but only by about 8 months. That prior sale of the same loft at $1,259/ft was the previous dollar-per-foot record high sale. Other than loft #12B sales, the previous dollar-per-foot record high sale in the building was the lovely mini-loft next door 7 months ago. The “754 sq ft” #12A was sold for $840,000 ($1,114/ft) on January 28 with high-end finishes and essentially the same views as next door, here babbled as “cinematic city, park and Brooklyn Bridge views” (with the same landmarks and the same opportunity to do traffic reports).

There is some premium for being a 2-bedroom rather than a 1-bedroom, I assume. But not 34%.

finishes + layout + view = $$$

The broker babble is very enthusiastic, beyond the views, with proper proper names and materials detailed:

Windowed chef's kitchen includes stainless steel breakfast bar dining; Wolf range, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher, 56-bottle wine refrigeration, Vermont soapstone sink and natural granite stone counters. Master bedroom has wall of custom closet cabinetry. Master bath has Orgami deep soaking tub and custom vanity. Second bedroom has custom closet. ...high ceilings, gallery-size walls for art; solid oak walnut stain flooring; large walk-in closet and powder room.

The floor plan sits in a nearly perfect nearly square footprint, with 3 of the “7 over-sized windows [that] provide dazzling light from morning til evening” in the public space, the “master bedroom” with corner exposures south and east, and the last of those 7 windows in the second bedroom. Only a quibbler would note the limitations on the floor plan: there is only a bath and a half, both rather far from the “master bedroom”. (As far as far can be in a “1,140 sq ft” space.)

In other words, given the scale, this layout is pretty close to perfect. With the better-than-nice finishes and the all day light east and south, the price probably reflects the lack of 2-bedroom true loft inventory in Tribeca.

There’s no doorman at 261 Broadway, but this isn't a no-frills coop: there’s a live-in super, a laundry room, and a lovely common roof deck. Hence, monthly maintenance beyond that of its no-frills Tribeca neighbors (for #12B: $2,149/mo, or $1.88/ft).

the small neighbor next door is jealous

Loft #12A is another well-appointed loft, at “754 sq ft” just 386 sq ft smaller than #12B and (proportionately) lacking a half bath and second bedroom compared to its larger neighbor. The main exposure is, again, east, over City Hall and toward the Brooklyn Bridge, with the secondary exposure being north rather than south. I read the photos and babble as enthusiastic as those of #12B:

sun-filled loft features soaring ceilings, hardwood floors, over-sized windows and built in book cases and cabinetry topped with honed granite in the spacious living/dining area. ... clever design ... allow[s] for flexibility with pocket doors and windows which open and close off spaces. The custom chefs kitchen with stainless steel and Carrera marble countertops is nicely tucked off the dining area. The bedroom ... has a wall of custom built drawers and cabinets and the well-proportioned bathroom has linen closet, polished concrete floor and hand-painted English wallpaper. Fully outfitted closets and built-ins throughout….

Same building, same year, same view, similar condition, but smaller by one bedroom and a half bath. Loft #12A didn’t take long (32 days to contract), but it only got $1,114/ft. As tough as the 2-bedroom market is in Tribeca, there are not many classic buildings that even have 1-bedrooms, so I am a bit surprised the spread is so large between #12A and #12B. (I discussed other “A” line sales at 261 Broadway in my April 19, 5 years later, small loft at 261 Broadway sells (angels rejoice); #12A is definitely the cream of the A-line crop to date.) Note to self … consider a post about the 1-bedroom loft market in downtown Manhattan ….

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 2, 2013 - it’s Labor Day: go to a sale, eat a hot dog, wear white (and straw), and remember LABOR Day



things I did not know


How do you get to be so old and not know stuff like how Labor day came about? I have touched in past years on the (big picture) origins of Labor Day in the US, but did not realize the degree to which the national holiday was a response to a very specific episode of collective action by workers that was not supported universally in the American labor movement. That would be the Pullman Strike of 1894, as I discovered clicking The Wiki this morning, by unskilled railway workers who attempted to shut down railroad service west of Chicago after the boss of their company town reduced their pay but not their rent.

Some of the ironies, or surprises (to me): Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor opposed the escalating activity of the American Railway Union, as did many “establishment” unions; a principal organizer was the noted socialist Eugene V. Debs, but he was not (yet) then a socialist (he read while in prison for his work promoting the Pullman Strike); the national holiday was created in direct response to the ending of the Pullman Strike (a unanimous [!] vote in Congress 6 days after the strike ended), designating a September Monday rather than May 1 to avoid association with International Workers Day.

And, of course, that with the tradition of retail sales on this “labor holiday”, many retail workers had to work overtime.

If you like a 5-day workweek, an 8-hour workday, or not having to start working at age 12, thank a union member.


[UPDATE: I swear, I wrote the above before seeing that Pauil Krugman used the Pullman Strike in his Labor Day column today in the New York Times. Smart guy!]

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Sep. 1, 2013 - diversion: an obituary featuring the most famous mutineer

real people, who did amazing things
Who doesn't love a great obituary? I don't mean (merely) an obituary for a great (or famous) person, but a well written obituary that teaches you, or reminds you, about fascinating things. Tom Christian of Pitcairn's Island died in July, but his obituary did not hit the New York Times until last week. If you are wondering if Pitcairn is one of the little islands off the coast of Maine, or of South Carolina, here is a hint: going back a bit in Tom’s patrilineal line, his “Christian” forebears were Frederick, son of Daniel, who was son of Thursday, who was son of Friday, who was son of Fletcher. That takes the line back to the 1780s.
Of course there have been 3 movies made about great-great-great grandpa Fletcher, but I can’t remember if I saw either of the first two before reading the novel on which the movies were built. i must have been 12 or so when I read the full trilogy: Mutiny on the Bounty, Pitcairn’s Island, and Men Against the Sea. I don’t remember much about that middle book (if I have the sequence right), but I still remember Men Against the Sea. Christian and the mutineers cast “bully” captain Bligh adrift in an open longboat with 18 loyal crew members in the south Pacific without charts or compass. Bligh lost one of his men who was killed by natives on a nearby island (30 miles from where they’d been cast off) at which they tried to land to secure provisions, but then navigated the open boat in the open sea 3,618 nautical miles to the Dutch East Indies using a quadrant and a pocket watch. This 47 day voyage was said to be the greatest open sea navigation in recorded history.
Christian and a group that included Tahitian men and women left a larger group in Tahiti, then headed out to avoid the Royal Navy. As The Wiki puts it, they “ rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on the Royal Navy's charts” (!). By the time a ship of the Royal Navy discovered Pitcairn in 1814, only one of the mutineers was still alive. (He was later given amnesty; the group on Tahiti was captured in 1791.)
The fact that there are 3 Mutiny on the Bounty films testifies to the hold on human imagination of the first part of the trilogy. The two other parts are less cinematic, but the middle story certainly captured my imagination.
Read the obit for what ‘modern’ life on the island has been like in Tom’s lifetime. What a strange and wonderful world we live in….
© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 30, 2013 - truly a fast sale, as 60 Beach Street loft cashes out 24 days after listing


beats the heck out of The Peak, kinda sorta

Some fascinating things about the recent sale of the “2,569 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3B at 60 Beach Street just to the left of the Holland Tunnel spillways in Tribeca: as in the headline, the whole darn thing took 24 days (to market on July 13, in contract a week later, and closed on August 6; the deed was even filed relatively quickly, within 3 weeks); as in the sub-head, this 2013 clearing price crushed the last sale of the same loft (and by “crushed” I mean 23% higher than the deal reached when it was offered at The Peak of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market); finally, the New York Post has it in yesterday’s “Just Sold!” feature in the Thursday Real Estate section of the paper (“Just Sold!”, indeed), beating the heck out of the often stale “Residential Sales Around The Region” that The Old Grey Lady “reports” on Sundays. Where to begin….

Of course it sold at the ask ($4.295mm); at this trajectory, the wonder is that it did not go over.

this one is a classic

60 Beach has a variety of floor plans, some duplex or triplex, but #3B is straightforward: this floor plan is your basic Long-and-Narrow footprint, luxuriously wide at 35 feet, with plumbing on both sides in the middle, 3 bedrooms across the back, and windows only front and back.

The ceilings are tall (not specified, alas, but perhaps 12 feet) but the window photos all have the sheers closed. The windows are pretty high off the floor, which is an interesting look. Assume there’s not much to see out there, but that gap from the floor to the window sill would tend to keep your gaze inward. High-end finishes, of course:

walnut floors throughout. ... Valcucine kitchen … features white lacquer and walnut cabinetry with white glass counter tops, Sub Zero and Miele appliances, a fully vented hood and a large double width island offering tons of storage space. The master bath pampers with a soaking tub, separate shower and double sink teak vanity with calacatta gold marble finishes.

some very sincere flattery here

I will get to the prior sale in a bit, but for now I will link to the prior listing to show how much the 2013 marketing resembles the earlier effort. Same brokerage firm (mine!) but different agents, using pretty much the same text and exactly the same photos. I hate when that happens, especially when none of the pictures can be seen in large format.

There’s no excuse for this, but the explanation has to do with the recent seller (and original owner) apparently never lived there. After paying $3.5mm for the loft on April 7, 2009, the LLC immediately put it out for rent (apparently for two years), then rented it again for another two years. (The StreetEasy record is here; our listing system shows that the first rent was $15,500/mo, raised to $18,500/mo in 2011. Though through a different firm, the rental listings used the same text [sheesh] but different photos, showing the space empty.)

sponsor not as lucky

This development took a while to get off the ground, so to speak. The sponsor bought the building in 2005 for $26mm, then missed The Peak of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market by not being ready to close until 2009. (Unlike the two very well-timed projects I hit this week in my August 27, did 48 Bond Street loft developer leave money on the table in 2008?, and my August 29, quick flip of 52 Thomas Street loft is breathtakingly irrational.) Here’s the earlier sale history of loft #3B:

Sept 27, 2007

new to market


June 11, 2008



April 7, 2009




I said up top, that the recent sales price bested the Peak price because the loft was, in fact, marketed through The Peak in the overall market and, in fact, got the contract signed just past The Peak, though it did not close for another 10 months. (New development pricing is not necessarily indicative of [true] market value, in my opinion [as the title of my August 27 post hints], though it is certainly arm’s length, offered by someone who does that sort of thing for a living.) This developer was not able to bring to market and sell the bulk of the building until 2010, so #3B was one of the earliest sales. (That StreetEasy building page has the story, here.)

I don’t know the details of the new development sales process, but a reader commented on my only post to date about sales here (my July 30, 2012, 60 Beach Street gut loft project gores for gold, gets world record) that there were some rent-stabilized tenants in place when the developer bought the building in 2005, one of whom is involved in the story about the loft sold in that post. Whatever the reasons, only 9 units were sold in 2009 (out of 20, 25, or 26, depending on which source you use for the total number of units), and another 5 in 2010. Whether a related party sale, a lender workout, or some other complicated transaction with a long and secret story, the sponsor entity sold 10 units in a bulk transaction as recently as February 2012 for the most curiously low figure of $5mm.

That hints at a debacle, to me. I can’t imagine that the timing and pricing of the sponsor sales were consistent with the sponsor’s original plans, but I was not on that committee….

comping is …

Of course it is difficult to comp sales in a building with so much secret stuff going on, but by any measure the #3B sale at $4.295mm is impressive. That’s $1,672/ft and (obviously) 23% more than the LLC paid to buy in 2009. The last sale in the building was some sort of private sale, the “2,793 sq ft” #3C next door for the funny number $4,042,819, or (only) $1,447/ft. Those sellers did, however, make out like bandits, as they were a very late sponsor deal when they bought in, paying (only!) $2,687,290 in February 2012. A debacle, indeed.

The last public sale was the sale of the “2,557 sq ft” #4D that I hit in the July 30, 2012 post, above. That was sold as a to-be-gutted project at $3.05mm, a healthy premium to ask, with the complicated back story contributed by Reader Magic. There’s still a big spread between that value of $1,193/ft (plus unknown renovation budget) and #3B at $1,671/ft.

One final 3 bedroom Tribeca comp, thrown out without further comment: that (ridiculous?) flipped $1,983/ft that I hit yesterday (August 29, quick flip of 52 Thomas Street loft is breathtakingly irrational).

One final data point, repeated: loft #3B was on the market less than a week, and was sold and closed less than 4 weeks after coming to market. Damn, that’s fast!

patience is appreciated

If you’ve gotten here, well, you’ve gotten here, despite the blog loading really slowly these days. I apologize for that frustration and I very much appreciate you sticking with it. One more straw on my back that may (eventually, maybe) lead me to port over to WordPress or something of that sort. Not soon, however, so pray with me that the techies can clean up this problem, soon.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013



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Aug. 29, 2013 - quick flip of 52 Thomas Street loft is breathtakingly irrational


can’t be much to say

Sometimes things make so little sense that all one can do is note the facts and move on. I really wish I had something sensible to say about the recent sales history of the “1,967 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4D at 52 Thomas Street, but …. [crickets]. I can talk about the loft a bit (I it saw with potential buyers last year), below, but here are some numbers that have to speak for themselves: the LLC that bought it for $3mm on December 26 just turned around and sold it for $3.9mm on June 21. That’s a 30% gain in just under 6 months, or about $34,615 gained for each week they owned the place.

Use your New York Lottery Guy voice, please: NINE HUNdred THOUsand DOLLars. In. Six. Months (Less expenses, but give me a break!)

modern prewar, if that’s what you like

Loft #4D has a wonderfully efficient nearly square floor plan that, with south and east exposures, easily fits 3 bedrooms. (In this case, I mean ‘efficient’ as a compliment, unlike the efficient-like-a-cookie-cutter floor plan I sneered at in my August 27, did 48 Bond Street loft developer leave money on the table in 2008?.) A newly converted to residential condominium project in 2007, the sponsor had the opportunity with large floor plates to put plumbing stacks where they made the most sense, in this case putting the kitchen in the middle of the loft and logically spacing 3 bathrooms plus the washer-dryer. (Unlike the unfortunate plumbing distribution in the 1980s vintage Noho loft I hit in my August 26, with too many walls, 20 Bond Street loft sells (too low?) before gut renovation.)

The strangest thing about the floor plan? There are only 3 closets. The most subtle cool thing? That sliver window in the southeast corner of the living room. Pretty sure the developer added that window to permit a clean look down the sidewalk on Church Street. (The 4th listing photo was not taken from the sliver, but from one of the other south windows, alas.)

The finishes were high end then, and have held up well. The kitchen features “anigre-wood cabinetry, balsatina stone countertops, and Viking, Sub-Zerio and Miele appliances”, the floors are Brazilian hardwood and there are Zebrawood doors. I am going to guess the ceilings on this floor are not much higher than 10 feet, and are dropped to permit recessed lighting. It’s that kind of thing that turned my buyers off to the space last year, as they preferred a more classicly loft loft.

comping is …?

Yes, comping is difficult, especially in a new-ish building in which there have been few resales. When loft #4D came to market on November 15, there had been only one resale (StreetEasy building page, here). The “1,753 sq ft” loft #3A was sold by the original buyers on May 19, 2011 at $2.2mm, or $1,255/ft. The sponsor also (finally) unloaded the penthouses in 2011 and 2010, which were the last sales in the building since the middle of 2008. Before this year, the highest recorded sales price in the building was the sponsor sale of Penthouse D in June 2011 at $3.25mm, or $1,341/ft before adjusting for the two terraces.

One challenge for the original #4D owner in 2012 was to apply those sponsor sales of penthouse space in 2010-11 and the #3A sale in 2011 to the new (bullish!) market conditions in late 2012. Starting at $3.25mm on November 15 ($1,652/ft, or a 32% premium to #3A) seemed pretty bullish, no?

Another challenge for the original #4D owner was that he had been renting the place out, and the tenant did not make it easy to show (“SHOW TIMES: Monday thru Friday 10:00 to 1:30 w/ 24 hour notice”). This kind of restriction has been known to reduce value by cutting down the buyer pool. That seller felt as though he had enough of a buyer pool, as he struck a deal within a month at the $3mm that closed on December 26. Hard to say (at that time) that he left any money on the table, going from For Sale to cashed out in 6 weeks, getting $1,525/ft (21% higher than #3A 18 months earlier).

the impossible part remains … impossible (though the neighbors are happy)

I will never know why whoever is behind the LLC that bought #4D for $3mm on December 26 decided to sell so quickly. (They did move in, as the furniture is different in the 2012 and 2013 listing photos.) Eight million stories in the naked city, of course, and something changed. But the impossible thing for me is that they decided to ask $3.95mm as of May 3, and struck a deal within 10 days to sell at $3.9mm. In this day and age, that buyer had to know that the same loft in the same condition had sold in December at $3mm.

That’s $1,983/ft. A 58% premium to $3A two years earlier.

I suspect that any other original owner who had ever considered moving is crunching the numbers, and salivating. Personally, I need to see at least one more sale at this range to believe that this free market sale accurately reflects market value.

You have to go back 250+ downtown Manhattan loft sales on the Master List to find 10 lofts that sold at higher dollar-per-prices, and at least several of them should be adjusted down to account for outdoor space. (None of them is on a commercial stretch of Church Street.) This building has not (previously) been considered on of THE top places to live in Tribeca.

c’mon, StreetEasy, you gotta keep up

I’d love to blame Zillow for this, but that would be unfair. I’ve said before that StreetEasy seems to have had a great deal of trouble these days matching deed records to listings. In most of those cases, the result is a “no listing associated with this sale” form of misinformation. In the case of #4D, however, the June 21 deed at $3.9mm is linked by StreetEasy to the 2012 listing at $3.25mm, to which StreetEasy also (and correctly) links the $3mm deed from December 26. (You get the whole story on each of the 2012 and 2013 listings, but still ….)

Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013



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Aug. 28, 2013 - penthouse loft owner at 57 Bond Street buys big Tribeca luxury on Washington Street


Bond Street Week continues!

With so many Manhattan lofts (and so little time, alas), there are times that Manhattan Loft Guy themes just emerge: one post leads to the selection of another sale for discussion, then another …. (The Shark Week meme I played on last week.) Here’s my third post in a row on the oh so short, oh so chic Bond Street in Noho. But the more interesting aspect of the recent sale of the “1,344 sq ft”* Manhattan penthouse loft (with “1,134 sq ft” private roof top) #6E at 57 Bond Street is that the seller decamped from this newly built (2003) condo loft in Noho to a much larger Tribeca luxury condo loft conversion (2005) with no outdoor space. I don’t know the guy, but it is fascinating move.

from here ...

He just moved from the east end of the same block that Monday’s loft anchors to the west (August 26, with too many walls, 20 Bond Street loft sells (too low?) before gut renovation) and on which Tuesday’s loft sits in the middle (August 27, did 48 Bond Street loft developer leave money on the table in 2008?). There are only two bedrooms, squeezed onto a smaller floor plan than yesterday’s loft, but the tall ceilings (11 feet), large windows and corner exposures in living room and second bedroom, and (especially) because the 6th floor is tall and open in this part of the world (see the living room and roof deck pics for the “incredible panoramic views of the city”), the space is not as squeezed as it would otherwise feel.

The finishes were top of the line for its time (not so long ago), including “Poggenpohl custom cabinetry, ... Sub Zero refrigerator and 60 bottle wine cooler, Bosch dishwasher and Viking range. ... master … bath with Carrera marble and a steam shower. ... fully landscaped and furnished private roof deck”. Access to that roof deck is both by elevator and by interior stair, which is a nice convenience, especially because that interior access is via a (most inconvenient) spiral staircase. (That staircase is artfully omitted from all photos.) That huge roof deck also takes the squeeze out of the interior floor plan, for as many months as one could use it as an additional living room (complete with television and fire urn), though The Miller would say it is proportionately too large to command a top premium.

The guy paid $2.595mm when he bought from the developer in June 2007 and just sold at $3.8mm. Nicely played, sir; nicely played. (At this end.)

Contrary to what you’d see on StreetEasy, the guy did not sell above ask. It’s not StreetEasy’s fault, but someone input incorrect data into the feed that StreetEasy followed. (Let’s stay on the high road and assume it was an accident of an all-too-frequent sort.) Our listing system (it was a Corcoran listing) shows a contract date of April 26, sadly earlier than the “price drop” that StreetEasy carries. Alas.

… to here!

Did you notice that the guy used the 2nd bedroom at 57 Bond Street as an office? His new place, the “2,420 sq ft” Manhattan loft #4G at 416 Washington Street in the River Lofts in northwest Tribeca has a floor plan that features 4 bedrooms (two of which are just dying to be combined). Did that loft really sell with a single listing photo?? Maybe, but the short-lived unsuccessful 2012 listing has many photos. That broker babble is a bit more enthusiastic and specific than the 2013 model, so let’s use that:

abundant light with every room overlooking onto Vestry and Washington Streets.... Large entry foyer, stunning 34 x 17 Living room, oversized Master Bedroom with home office, walk-in closets and limestone spa-like bathroom. Three additional Bedrooms and 2 beautiful bathrooms are located on separate wings. ...vented washer and dryer, 10' ceilings, wonderful arched windows, custom closets and powder room. Newly renovated Varenna Kitchen with top of the line appliances including wine storage, new stone countertops, vented hood and custom built breakfast bar. HVAC w/ HEPA system, high speed wiring and cable throughout and beautiful Brazilian walnut hardwood floors.

Unlike the 10-unit 57 Bond Street, in which the building amenities were limited to downstairs storage, River Lofts is a full service condo “with Garage, state-of-the-art Fitness Center and Bike Room” (doorman, obviously), all accessed from the elevator.

On the market only 7 weeks in early 2012, loft #4G zoomed through a year later: asking $4.45mm as of April 12, and in contract by April 27 at the $4.42mm at which it closed on July 15. (Maybe he spent a week in a hotel, but he sold the 57 Bond penthouse on July 10.)

Let’s review the trade: other costs aside, the guy got $3.8mm for the penthouse in Noho, then paid $4.42mm for #4G in a quieter part of Tribeca, close to the river but not so close to subways. For the $642,000 spread he gained over 1,000 sq ft of living space (including 2 additional bedrooms), in a white glove full service condo; he gave up over 1,000 sq ft of roof top terrace. While he did very well in his 2007 to 2013 Noho penthouse ownership ($1.2mm gross gain), he just paid a price per foot building record at River Lofts. Obviously, it all made sense to him.

*hate to look at feet again, but they made me do it

I’ve been picking at this sore just recently, and I really hate to do it, so I will make this quick. You will see that the deed record for the 57 Bond Street penthouse notes the interior space is “1,344 sq ft”, while the listing says “1,470 sq ft”. I assume that the deed record matches the measurement in the Condominium Declaration Exhibit A that the city uses for real estate tax lot purposes. I will stay up on the high road and assume that there is some basis for “1,470”, perhaps in a “gross sq ft” measurement in the Condo Dec. As is my custom, I use the deed record measurement as a consistent, if arbitrary, standard in my Master List of Downtown Loft Sales, as I have been doing for almost 5 years now.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 27, 2013 - did 48 Bond Street loft developer leave money on the table in 2008?


hindsight (that female dog) suggests “yes”, or that the rubric changed

Let’s stick on one of the shortest and most dynamic downtown Manhattan loft streets, and complement the  unusually low sale of a 1980s residential loft coop conversion I hit yesterday at 20 Bond Street (August 26, with too many walls, 20 Bond Street loft sells (too low?) before gut renovation) with the resale of one of its new and fancy neighbors. There’s a world of difference between a 20 Bond Street loft selling at $957/ft (two of them selling at that price, in fact) and the “1,512 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2A at 48 Bond Street selling on the same side of the same block at $1,736/ft by the folks who bought this as a new development in 2008. While that near-neighbor contrast is striking, I am also fascinated by the 29% gain over what these original owners paid, as no one would argue that the overall Manhattan residential real estate market is up to that degree since The Peak.

This is what they mean when they say a loft in a “developing area” has the potential to outperform The Market.

the very picture of an efficient layout

Uptown, an “apartment” over 1,500 sq ft would likely feature 3 bedrooms, or 2 and a dining room. In loft-y downtown Manhattan, notice how modest the room dimensions are to even get 2 bedrooms: the larger (master) bedroom is just 14 x 12 feet. The only “corridor” in the loft hardly earns that name, as there’s about a 6-foot transition from the public space to the (foyer?) from which one enters each bedroom and the second bath. In other words, there’s very little wasted space, as is typical of lofts and atypical of “apartments”, in which what I call “wasted” space they call “gallery”.

The footprint is about halfway between square and classic Long-and-Narrow, with a single exposure that mandates the placement of rooms and allocates plumbing to the dark wall. At a proportion of roughly 3:5, this could be a Short-and-Squat. There’s not enough volume, and no nooks or crannies to create visual interest, but it is what it is: a series of rectangles leavened by tall ceilings, big windows, and top of the line finishes. In truth, more “loft-like” than loft to a snob (hello!), but clearly built to mimic the nearby classic loft scale.

One might call loft #2A a downtown loft for uptown people, as I did the even more loft-y second floor loft in the Flatiron turn of the century residential loft conversion that I hit in my August 23, is 2nd floor loft at 170 Fifth Avenue the most beautiful in Flatiron?. One of the uptown ‘tells’ in those Flatiron lofts was that the kitchen were all but closed off from the main room. Note the kitchen shape, placement, and sliding doors on the #2A floor plan. This is a kitchen made to be closed off, a most un-loft-y concept.

Perhaps the choice was made to prefer storage space over a loft feel, as that large closet at the entry is one of only a few storage spaces in the entire loft. But if this were designed as a (modern) loft, I’d image a smaller entry closet oriented E-W and that east kitchen wall being open above the sink.

The choice, in retrospect, seems clear: attract uptown “apartment” people to one of the loftiest and charming blocks of lofty Noho by avoiding an open kitchen. Obviously, there’s a vigorous market for this space, in this place.

back when new Bond Street was young

If you didn’t do the math to back out the recent seller’s purchase, here’s the crib sheet: the guy paid $2,036,500 when he bought from the sponsor on April 24, 2008. That is an essentially at Peak price, being so soon after the First Quarter of 2008 (the high water mark for recorded deeds in Manhattan … so far), but I can’t tell when the contract was signed. (With new developments, contracts often well precede closings, of course, especially in those buy-from-drawings days.) If the adjoining loft is any indication, our data-base shows that #2B was first offered for sale in May 2007 and went to contract in November, also closing in April 2008. (I hit that one in my November 21, 2012, man takes small nip at big dog: 48 Bond Street loft resells 41% above 2008, in which I also opined that it “[l]ooks as though the sponsor left some money on the table back in the day”.)

I started talking about Bond Street as the new “it” block for Manhattan lofts way back in my November 1, 2007, re-setting values at 57 Bond / there goes the neighborhood, about a traditional loft that benefited from its new neighbors.

the new kids on the block that have driven prices very far very fast are 40 Bond and 48 Bond. 40 Bond is the 31-unit Ian Schrager project with "five star hotel services and amenities", in which original units can still be had for as little as $3.5mm for "1,269 sq ft" (#6D) or as much as $9.95mm for "3,288 sq ft' (#9A). 48 Bond is the smaller (17 unit) Deborah Berke designed project that has a "3,141 sq ft" full floor unit left, asking $5.15mm.

Note that there was only one loft left (without a contract) at 48 Bond Street in November 2007, just a very short time before The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. That’s very very very good timing for a developer, perhaps more lucky than good. In my April 27, 2010, 48 Bond Street closes up 400% since 2008, but ..., I described 48 Bond as perhaps the single most fortunate new development in terms of timing, and (again) about how this one and 40 Bond Street reset values on “this formerly sleepy Noho block”. (Click through for more.)

hot area warms to Berke

As noted, I wondered in that post about #2B last November 21 about the developer leaving money on the table in 2008. That had become a ‘thing’ a week later. When I hit the sale of the “1,590 sq ft” loft #3A in my November 28, 2012, again running with the bulls at 48 Bond Street, up 18% over 2008 this time, I noted that “original buyer at $2,316,518 just sold at $2.745mm, a gain of 18% [and that t]he Berke bonus seems to be growing”. Not to overwhelm you with block quotes (Blog Selfies??), go to that post for the details on the degree to which resale values have vastly improved on 2008 sponsor prices. (Hint: look again at the title of that November 21, 2012 post.)

So, yes, I think the sponsor left some money on the 48 Bond table in 2008. But there’s a huge caveat: this was one of the best-timed new development in that frothy era, and I noted above that #2B took about 6 months to get into contract. Presumably, a higher asking price would have taken more time, in a period that (in perfect retrospect) fortune went to the prudent rather than to the bold. Nicely played, 48 Bond Street developer; nicely played.

With a Manhattan Loft Guy tip of the hat to all those original buyers, as well. Fortune is smiling on Bond Street.

about your feet (again)

One last aside …. You will drive yourself crazy if you use the interior room dimensions to try to measure the loft inside the exterior walls, so please don’t try that. Trust me: you’ll get a full rectangle tantalizingly close to “1,512 sq ft” but then you’ll estimate the cut-out in the middle of the north wall (200 sq ft??) and gnash your teeth. Your dentist and Manhattan Loft Guy agree: don’t gnash your teeth, but assume that “1,512 sq ft” is an official number taken from the offering plan and refer (again) to the link in yesterday’s post about the scandal that the Manhattan Real Estate Industrial Complex is unable (unwilling!) to address.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 26, 2013 - with too many walls, 20 Bond Street loft sells (too low?) before gut renovation


selling the windows

Even if you haven’t seen the “2,300 sq ft”* Manhattan loft on the 5th floor at 20 Bond Street, the broker babble, floor plan, and listing photos contain some hints that this Noho Long-and-Narrow recently sold as a project. The brief description of the interior of the loft is all about the bones (“glorious light and fabulous NoHo views through 15 windows, hardwood floors, 10ft high ceiling”). The floor plan has an office / studio across the front windows and the kitchen and a bath across the back windows, two modestly sized “bedrooms” (one of which is less than the 8 feet wide required for a legal bedroom); both baths are extravagantly long, with one and two windows; and that huge kitchen features an enormous island (the island is nearly piano shaped, but the actual piano in the main listing photo is in the “dining area”. The photos show some kind of composite kitchen floor, simply laid on top of the hardwood floor and a short but tall inlay of glass brick on that bathroom wall next to the kitchen.

No offense intended to the sellers or their design team, but this layout and these finishes reflect that economy was the principal driver for layout decisions, back in the day. (Bet you a quarter that this loft has been substantially untouched since this building was converted to a residential cooperative in 1984; if anything changed, I suspect the narrow bedroom was added.)

The new owners are going to erase the lines and start over; bet you two quarters on that. If the new kitchen ends up where the old one is, that will be because they have maximum flexibility from the 5 windows on the long west wall, and may be able to get enough bedrooms (for their purposes) on the narrow south wall and taking one or two west windows. I doubt that second bedroom survives, or if a large bathroom remains in the northwest corner.

Because the long line of west windows are so critical to the loft and because the lot immediately to the west of this building is undeveloped, every single person interested in the loft (there were many at the open house I attended) asked about future development nearby. The very professional selling family team was prepared with very professional written materials indicating (as I recall) that the lot to the west was too narrow for multi-story development and what the planned projects across Bond Street would look like.

I doubt that issue was what kept this loft from finding a buyer from finding a buyer for 5 months (to market at $2.35mm on September 29, in contract by March 28 at the $2.2mm deal that closed on June 27). More likely, the issue was finding the right buyer to take on the renovation.

coincidence can be sweet (or, efficient)

The parallel between the 5th floor history just recited and that of the 3rd floor when it sold almost a year ago would be really eerie, if not for the first two incorrect prices:

Jan 18, 2012

new to market


Feb 21



April 17



July 9



Sept 19



Same sales price, same (last) asking price, almost the same amount of time on the market, same lack of bragging about finishes in the babble. At this height there are only 2 windows on the west wall, severely reducing the flexibility, but the pix and floor plan also look “1980s!” to me. (Note: single bathroom, way in the northwest corner.)

Obviously, the 5th floor sellers noted the 3rd floor history when they came to market a week after the 3rd floor sale. They started where the 3rd floor ended ($2.35mm) and ended in exactly the same place ($2.2mm). Efficient market theorists toasted this pair, though they should have hiccuped a bit over market timing (stronger overall market when the 5th floor was active) and perhaps over the value of being two floor higher with 3 more west windows. Yes fans: the 5th floor should have sold for more in an efficient market; if didn’t so maybe it ain’t.

*about your feet...

StreetEasy has no measurement for these two lofts, but out listing system says “2,300 sq ft”. You’ve probably already noted the room dimensions on the 5th floor floor plan, which (if accurate, especially at 21’6” wide) make it difficult to get to 2,300 sq ft inside those exterior walls. But the 3rd floor plan has a very different width (24’6”), which will go a long way to getting you closer to a 2,300 sq ft total, even carving out the public stairwell, especially if you count from the middle of the exterior walls.

Sigh. Another instance of a loft made difficult to comp because it is hard to know the answer to the simple question “how much loft is there?”. Assuming 2,300 sq ft for the lofts in this building, both the 3rd floor and 5th floor sold at $956/ft on one of the most valuable stretches of loft properties in down Manhattan. Yes, they require substantial renovation, and yes they are in a no-frills coop, but these numbers are way below the lofts I hit three days in a row last week (August 19, 152 Wooster Street loft shows that character matters, competition drives premium, August 20, 463 Greenwich Street loft is a fascinating project, sells at $1,442/ft, and August 21, original condition loft at 1 Hudson Street goes well above ask), each of which had similar challenges yet closed at $1,287/ft, $1,442/ft, and $1,215/ft. (To repeat: these 3 posted sales were also coops, subject to the same question of actual dimensions.)

Personally, I can see “2,300 sq ft” as a reasonable and conventional measurement for the coop lofts at 20 Bond Street, as Property Shark has the lot and building measurements as 100 x 25.67 feet and 100 x 26 ft, respectively, with the former having a veneer of accuracy for being precise and the latter being (apparently) a rounded number. If the building really has a footprint of 2,567 sq ft, “2,300 sq ft” interior is looking better and better, even using a coop measuring stick. (For my first comprehensive rant on this blight on the Manhattan real estate “profession”, see my November 3, 2010, the square footage dilemma: REBNY "leads" by protecting brokers, not buyers, but be warned; it is comprehensive.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 23, 2013 - is 2nd floor loft at 170 Fifth Avenue the most beautiful in Flatiron?


would help if you could see out windows

It is a shame, and a challenge for the sellers and their sales team, that the marketing campaign for the “2,736 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 2nd floor at 170 Fifth Avenue coincided with some kind of building renovation. There are no complaints (or explanation) in the broker babble, but (although the loft “overlooks the beautiful Madison Square Park”) you can’t see anything out the “sixteen 10-ft windows” except the shimmer of netting and the vague outline of scaffold. Granted, the Madison Square view may be limited to those first 3 north windows on the floor plan, as this beautiful building “overlooks” the park from the southwest corner of 22nd Street instead of, you know, overlooking the park, but I am sure it is a nice view. Except when you can’t see past the construction netting.that covered each of the 16 windows when the listing photos were taken.

I wonder if the netting came down between the loft coming to market on February 4 at $3.95mm and going into contract by May 21 at the $3.875mm at which it closed on July 10. In this market, that’s kind of a long time to a deal at only a 2% discount. As I will get to below, this sale is a record on a dollar-per-foot basis in this 11-unit turn of the century condominium loft conversion, and an absolute price record for non-penthouse units, so it is hard to complain about the clearing price.

There is a significant advantage to being so close to the sidewalk, as there is in many Manhattan loft buildings: higher ceilings, in this case 14 feet as opposed to (only!) 11 feet on higher floors (like the 5th). Especially with 10 foot windows covering nearly the entire north and east walls of this Long-and-Narrow footprint (the long wall of windows easily permits a string of bedrooms; in this floor plan even the master’s walk-in closet gets a window).

The broker babble is not shy, opening with “Flatirons [sic]most beautiful loft ...”, but then (curiously) adding little detail beyond “top of the line, gourmet” kitchen and “spa” shower:

mint condition, floor-through corner unit features dramatic 14 ft ceiling height with sixteen 10-ft windows. Designed for comfort and luxury, you will enjoy the lifestyle this 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath home allows. Features: 2,736 SF, 25ft+ width living room with dining area, huge master bedroom with sophisticated spa shower and windowed walk-in closet top of the line, gourmet, walk-through kitchen washer/dryer central AC/heat.

I will take their word for it, but one of the neighbor’s will definitely argue with the opening boast. The photos are jarring, for me, with the hardwood floors and window frames being especially set off by the white void in each huge window. Getting over that, it seems we are being shown a well maintained loft that was well built out by the sponsor before sale in 2000.

a downtown loft for uptown people?

The early deed records for the sponsor sales in 2000 and 2001 do not contain notice addresses for the buyers. I checked because I was curious if many buyers came from uptown apartments rather than moved here from other downtown lofts. (Coincidence, perhaps, but the 2nd floor sellers moved to the Upper East Side.) The reason for my curiosity is the single unconventional element of the layout: that “walk through” kitchen. While I am sure that no self-respecting Park Avenue prewar kitchen would be as open to the living room as this one, or would lack a door at the dining room end like this one, the kitchen layout is hardly classic loft, essentially closed off for aesthetic (not functional) reasons. Note (in pic #6) that the high kitchen walls are not used for storage and that all the utility in this kitchen can be accommodated with an “L” shape (swing the frig and range to the west wall) or with an island.

This layout is intentionally un-lofty. (The 7th floor layout is even more un-lofty, with what look like doors at both openings.)

snark attack

Two additional comments about the 2nd floor kitchen photo, easily skipped by those who prefer principled commentary. If I were directing the listing photo, I would take that blue … er … thing that dominates the front left of the kitchen photo. Maybe I am just cranky this morning, but that decorative element is very distracting. More crank: perhaps it is the filter used for the photo, but does the light finish on the cabinets go with the much darker finish on the floor? Not to my eyes, to which these two wood elements appear very dissonant.

subliminal repetition?

I hope that the 2nd floor broker babble writer did not intentionally copy the marketing campaign for the 5th floor from 2009. Surely he was aware of that last public sale in the building, with broker babble that was even more enthusiastic than for the 2nd floor in 2013, with a leading headline (with proper punctuation) “Flatiron’s Most Beautiful Loft ”. Let’s chalk it up to the work of the unconscious.

I’ve previously described that 5ht floor broker babble as “not only extensive but almost giddy (‘featured in numerous design magazines and books’ will give you the idea)”, but in addition to that and the Most Beautiful headline there is reference to “walls of the finest custom-made cabinetry”, “wir[ing] for audio/video with built-in speakers”, and an “[u]pgraded gourmet kitchen”. None of these elements are evident in the 2nd floor babble or pictures, so its quite possible that the 5th floor was more luxurious, even more “beautifully” than the 2nd (though with a lower ceiling). No doubt, “one of America’s leading designers, Jamie Drake,” would agree.

memory lane leads right to 22nd and Fifth

That 5th floor campaign resulted in the last public sale in the building, way back in 2009, and there’d been only one private sale since then before the 2nd floor came out at $3.95mm 6 months ago. I hit that 5th floor oh so chilly sale in my August 13, 2009, 170 Fifth Avenue closes AT 2007 (maybe), and then revisited it after the private sale of the 6th floor in my March 17, 2010, 170 Fifth Avenue loft sales are confusing.

That 2010 post reviewed sales data at 170 Fifth Avenue going back to 2005 in a (failed) attempt to make sense of them, as that headline implies. Here was my teaser intro:

For a small building (12 units) and a short history (converted to condo in 1999), the Manhattan loft building 170 Fifth Avenue has had an awful lot of activity in the last five years, with two lofts changing hands in 2009. You'd think (I thought) that with so much data the valuation trends would be clear. You'd be (I was) wrong about that.

Now we add the 2nd floor to the mix, at a 19% premium to any prior sale. Funny thing is, now it makes sense as an indication that not only are the lofts in this building beautiful (probably among the most beautiful in Flatiron ;-) but that the micro neighborhood around Eataly has out-performed the general downtown Manhattan loft market. After all, while seemingly a stretch for the building, given its history, the 2nd floor at $1,416/ft for a turn of the century luxury condo conversion is hardly a stretch in comparison to loft sales I hit quite recently (below), especially as this one is not only beautiful (etc) but overlooks Madison Square.

$1,688/ft 292 Lafayette Street #2W

(hardly the same quality as 170 Fifth Avenue, in no-frills coop: August 16, oh dear! 292 Lafayette Street loft goes to war, slays famous neighbors)

$1,484/ft 260 West Broadway #9E

(no view, little light: August 17, challenging American Thread loft at 260 West Broadway finally sells (contract took 50 weeks)

$1,442/ft 464 Greenwich Street #4

(yes, a “project”, with a glimpse of the river [today] in a no-frills coop: August 20, 463 Greenwich Street loft is a fascinating project, sells at $1,442/ft)

$1,416/ft 170 Fifth Avenue #2

$1,287/ft 152 Wooster Street #2C

(a pretty primitive [but classic] Soho loft over a parking lot: August 19, 152 Wooster Street loft shows that character matters, competition drives premium)

$1,215/ft 1 Hudson Street #8

(“original condition” loft in no-frills coop with wonderful views and light: August 21, original condition loft at 1 Hudson Street goes well above ask)

Two final comments: (1) that’s just going back a week! (2) look at all the second floor lofts

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 22, 2013 - 104 Charlton Street loft comes (cheap!) with a nickel tour


(pssst ... no bidding war!)

You’d have to work a bit to get the full story if you start in StreetEasy, but there is a gratifyingly large amount of information available about the “2,184 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2W at 104 Charlton Street that recently sold under $1,000/ft. Let’s start with some basic details before getting to celebrity owners, magazine slideshows, and interesting (if true!) building history. The loft is a classic Long-and-Narrow, typically arrayed with 2 bedrooms sharing one end, plumbing in the middle along one long wall, with the bulk of the space nicely allotted to the public room (nearly 40 x 23 feet). The flip on tradition in this floor plan is that the bedrooms are in the front of the building, over the Charlton Street sidewalk, with the living room mid-block, facing the back of the buildings on Vandam Street in this not-very-”Soho” stretch of southwestern Soho (we are going to call it The Greater Ear Inn Micro-Nabe [TGEIMN™], as I have said before, right?)



The decor is a response to the lack of light in the main room, with very white ceilings and walls, open shelving creating separate seating areas, and very colorful furnishings (apart from the dark monochrome in the kitchen). On the one hand, all those colorful elements are professionally done and, in a sense, well thought out (the seller is a designer); on the other hand, some of the non-furnishing color would be a mortal sin to mere amateur who had audited How To Stage Your Home For Maximum Profit (the purple [??} master bath??].

the story not told in the babble

It is rather amazing that the amazing broker babble does not brag much about the loft, or give much detail, other than to use ‘amazing” a rather amazing 4 times in a short bit of babble. The kitchen is “newly done amazing Balthaup” [speaking of amazing: that is Bulthaup] and there are “tons” of built-in storage and “amazing” closets, but there are no (other) proper proper names. The babble has a link to Dwell magazine on-line but the link does not get you to the piece about the loft! (Same [bad] link is on Streeteasy and on the Town listing.) The true link from September 2010 is here, and is a worthwhile click for lots of information about why the loft looks as it does.

The rather charming story is that the family of 4 left the city for the ‘burbs just before 9/11. The wife “is a very hard-core New Yorker, born and raised. We were experiencing this event that was so personal to us, but we were removed. So we moved back in 2002.” That leads to one of the great quotes, rueful and painful in equal measure:

And we got hit with what I call the “stupid tax.” It costs nothing to move out of New York, but it costs a million dollars to move back.

Love the “stupid tax” locution; it is harsh enough that it can only be said (in public) by a civilian who paid it, rather than by real estate professionals. (We’ll get back to that [apocryphal?] math below.)

Here’s why the loft is ‘backwards’:

We inherited the layout of our place from the previous resident, and we decided not to renovate. Unfortunately, the bedrooms are at the light, front part of the house and the living area is in the dark, back part of the house, with the kitchen in between. But at that point we had two little kids, so Vanessa and I looked at each other and said, “Let’s just move in, and we’ll deal with it.”

What does a designer do in response to dark public space?

Light is perhaps the least interesting thing about my place. Not having a lot of natural light is a constant reminder of why I made the spaces brightly colored. It’s why I take vitamin D. But, as a designer, I love a challenge. The house is lit with a combination of recessed fixtures tucked between the joists and track.

Sounds like that “newly done amazing Balthaup Kitchen” [... er … Bulthaup] is not so newly done, and that the designer/owner has the confidence to call his loft “crappy”:

Our one big investment was the Bulthaup kitchen, where we spend most of our time. I like to equate the loft to a hot rod: It looks like a really crappy car, but it’s got a really expensive motor under the hood. The kitchen isn’t near any windows or light or air, but it is the central space where we live as a family.

There’s more detail in the slideshow, including a view of what those wood slats are in the extreme left in the main listing photo (the girls’ loft playhouse, which never did get transformed into an office), confirmation that the “kitchen was the only room to get a full renovation”. The most interesting detail is from the article proper, a (sorry) amazing (if true) explanation for why the floors slope 4” from one side to the other (not a bug, but a feature!):

The building used to be a stable. A big elevator would bring horses and grain to the upper floors. That’s why the floors slope, so that the pee and manure would roll to one side. There’s a four-inch difference between the east and west walls, but I hardly notice it anymore.

Silly me …. I did not know there were stables in New York with elevators to move horses and grain, let alone a natural slope built in for rolling waste. I am still not convinced this story is true, but am not prepared to call out the designer until I have done some research. If true … great story!

about that math …

Before I leave the Dwell piece, I have to wonder how successful the 2013 seller (designer) was back in the day. According to the deed record, the loft was not bought by designer and wife when they returned to Manhattan, but by the designer’s famous dad, and that they did not make the move in 2002 but in December 2003. (Memory plays tricks with us all.)

Dad paid $577,014 for the loft on December 10, 2003; add a new Bulthaup kitchen, a new floor, and gallons of white paint and there’s still no way to get to an actual “stupid tax” of a million dollars to move back to New York. Darn. I am still going to use this Stupid Tax quote, however; though it was not true in the sense of being (you know) accurate in 2002, it feels truthy enough to even be accurate in 2013. Out of the mouths of designers ….

not an easy sale

You know from the first sub-head that there was no bidding war for this loft. Maybe it was the sloping (er … crappy floors) or maybe it was the bold colors or maybe it was the lack of light, but the thing took a while to sell, at a not-impressive level for the building. Perhaps the owner/designer was more impressed with his work than outsiders were:

Jan 15

new to market


April 2



June 11



July 9




That’s 5 months to contract at $969/ft, a 10% discount from last ask, 15% off the original ask.

Other sales are higher than $969/ft and/or in markets less strong than the current one. The last sale in the building was the larger (“2,432 sq ft”) #6E, which sold on May 9 for $2.92mm, or $1,201/ft. That was both in better condition and with better light (4 exposures). I hit the two most recent but more remote past sales (#6W at $892/ft and #3E at $1,006/ft) in my March 11, 2011, 104 Charlton Street loft takes 18% hit to close. You will find there an explanation that convinced me for why #6W sold relatively low, even for a loft that probably could be updated, and why #3E sold low for a well-renovated loft. In both cases, note that the 2013 market is much stronger than the markets in which those two neighbors sold.

I have to think that the #2W seller/designer is not going to brag about how well his design sold.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013



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Aug. 21, 2013 - original condition loft at 1 Hudson Street goes well above ask


location, location, location

Stop me if you've heard this before: a Manhattan loft that needs pretty much everything sails through the market above ask. That's the story with the "2,000 sq ft" Manhattan loft on the 8th floor at 1 Hudson Street, which came out on March 8 at $2.198mm, was in contract by April 19, and sold on July 10 at $2.43mm, despite being "in original condition". In other words, a certain and total gut job, in a no-frills coop just sold for $1,215/ft.


Oh wait ... that sounds like the other lofts I hit this week that went quickly above ask (August 19, 152 Wooster Street loft shows that character matters, competition drives premium, and August 20, 463 Greenwich Street loft is a fascinating project, sells at $1,442/ft), although they both had elements that might be retained in a renovation. The one thing that this 8th floor loft at the corner of Hudson and Chambers has that the 2nd floor loft in north Soho and the 4th floor loft in northwest Tribeca do not have is a wide open view.

Of course the three most important things about real estate are (in order) 1. location, 2. location, and 3. location. This axiom applies to the 8th floor at 1 Hudson but not strictly for its just-off-prime Tribeca placement at this very busy intersection; the axiom applies most because that corner sits opposite Bogardus Triangle and 1. Bogardus Triangle is a large undeveloped plot just west of the wide Varick Street, and 2. lofts at 1 Hudson Street have 12 windows facing the triangle and the open northeast sky behind it (the fourth listing photo does not do it justice), with another window facing southeast, with the Woolworth Building view in the second listing photo. (The 8th floor [open] floor plan is here.)

Google Maps gives a good sense of how wide (how far from other buildings) this prospect is. This view is not going anywhere (unless someone builds on Bogardus Triangle ;-), unlike the light from the parking lot windows at 152 Wooster or the slice of river at 463 Greenwich endangered by Ponte Family Interests. As the broker babble for the 8th floor puts it, “21 windows ... wrap the loft and offer deep south,east, and west views of Tribeca's present and future landmarks as well as charming street scenes”. (i assume the “future landmarks” is a clever reference to 56 Leonard.)

if only there were a recent nearby sale to use as a comp...

Sometimes comping is hard in a 10-unit loft building. Bear with me as I meander through some hard data.

In this case, there are full-floor sales of a 4th floor from June 2010 at $2.2mm (a 10% premium to ask) that was in decent but not very brag-worthy condition, and 6th and 10th floor sales in August 2008 at $2,437,500 and $2,525,000 that should reflect a close-to-Peak market in better condition than the 4th floor, and a not-very-useful-as-comp true penthouse sale in January 2013. The 10th floor listing surviving on StreetEasy lacks pictures and a floor plan, but fortunately I had visited the loft when it was for sale and blogged about the sale in my August 8, 2008, what a difference $675k makes / 1 Hudson Street closes. Indeed, I even hit it as a new listing, back when I used to do such things, in my October 10, 2007, top of the bottom of Hudson is new / 1 Hudson St has top price.

I quoted myself in that post when the 10th floor sold, parsing the broker babble and considering past building sales:

As I said in that October post,

The BHS listing description is a fascinating thing to deconstruct. While describing the loft as "magnificent", the only bragging is about the building (beautiful and historically significant), the ceilings (13 ft, with skylights), the windows (original, wood-framed), light, and views.

Not a word about the kitchen or the condition of the (only) 1.5 baths. No close-up of the kitchen in any of the (only) 3 interior pictures.

When I visited the loft it was clear that they were selling what was outside the windows, as the interior was nice -- in a 1980s kind of way -- but not what most $3mm buyers would leave untouched. Figure around $400k for a gut renovation.

As I noted then, that was a pretty big premium for views:

They are asking $3.2mm and $2,557/mo for "1,800+ sq ft", a very hefty premium for the view over the closed price for the 3d floor from February 2005 of $2.3mm (that was sold as "a beautiful and well-designed masterpiece").

All in all, asking $2.198mm for the “in original condition” 8th floor starting in March 2013 seems reasonable in light of these past full-floor loft sales … but there’s a more recent data point.

The 9th floor loft sold on May 15 off a December contract, after having taken 6 months and asking prices of $2.9mm and $2.75mm to find the deal at $2.6mm, the new (and reigning) building record price. That price implies a loft in pretty good condition (certainly, better than the “nice -- in a 1980s kind of way” of the 10th floor as prior building record holder), though the broker babble is rather muted and the photos are rather unrevealing. Instead of saying “recently” or “completely” or “meticulously” renovated, the 9th floor babble vaguely says about finishes “open chef’s kitchen”, claims only “stainless appliances”, and adds the detail of central air.

Again, asking $2.198mm for the “in original condition” 8th floor starting in March 2013 seems reasonable in light of the 9th floor (in contract at $2.6mm since December), if the 9th floor is one $200/ft renovation better than the 8th floor.

In the event, The Market thought the spread between the 8th and 9th floors should be much smaller than $200/ft, the 8th floor closed at that $2.43mm, or only $85/ft less than the 9th floor. I never saw the 9th floor, so I don’t know more about its condition. The Market was not very impressed, but how much of it was believing the loft was updated-but-not-very-well and how much of it was the difference between market conditions when contracts were signed (December 2012 v. April 2013) is impossible for an outsider to say.

I was going to say “my money is on …” but I’m just a blogger, without money in this game; my best guess is that The Market really was underwhelmed by the 9th floor condition, and therefore paid a premium to start over on the 8th floor to do a really nice renovation.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 20, 2013 - 463 Greenwich Street loft is a fascinating project, sells at $1,442/ft


why not another one?

The “1,320 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 4th floor at 463 Greenwich Street in northwest Tribeca is an interesting comp for yesterday’s somewhat primitive loft in prime Soho. Similar in size and in having classic loft character (I know it when I see it), this one is not quite as primitive in condition but still needs updating (more glass brick!). This one has views, though there is always the risk that nearby development will reduce or eliminate the “Hudson River and architectural views”. This one went only 3% above ask (it is the season for that sort of thing, of course), but started higher than the Soho classic, so went for $1,442/ft instead of yesterday’s $1,287/ft (both strong prices for no-frills coops). They were both quick to contract, but this one started a little later so they overlapped only a little while; probably long enough for some people who saw 152 Wooster Street to have seen this one, as well.

This one has a better floor plan (again with the single bathroom behind the kitchen), with more flexibility about future layouts, but has only a single exposure. (It helps a lot that it exposes the river, of course, rather than nearby brick and a parking lot). Exposed brick, wood beams and (wood?) columns with fascinating caps, and new mahogany windows provide the character; the nearly square floor plan provides that flexibility.

these can be a little faster than they look

Yesterday’s Soho classic was available for 4 weeks before going to contract by April 12. This Tribeca beauty came out on April 5 ($1.849mm) and was tied into a contract by May 1. Typical in such cases, the process moved even more quickly than the May 1 contract implies: by the time my buyer saw it in the first week there were 2 offers “in the $1.7s”; the next week there were “several” offers above ask and a deadline of April 16 for Best & Final offers, so that winning bid of $1.903mm was almost certainly accepted by April 17, with some probably anxious moments in due diligence and contract review before that buyer was assured of really getting the loft with the fully signed contract on May 1. (My guy passed, as the purchase + renovation budget got out of his comfort zone.)

Again: $1,442/ft for a no-frills coop that, while in perfectly “livable” condition is not in the condition that a buyer near $2mm will keep it at. The kitchen (glass brick!) is just not up to snuff, nor is that (unpictured) bathroom. While the current layout is a logical use of the space, my guess is that the buyers have asked their architect or contractor to erase the lines on the floor plan and start fresh. Maybe it is not necessarily  a $300/ft job, with just a new kitchen and 2 new baths; though you can always spend anything once you get started….

changing centuries by going a short distance

As noted, this 4th floor loft is a beauty, giving the new owners the opportunity to create a thoroughly modern environment in a classic frame. Their former home was about the opposite kind of Tribeca space, just half a block away. They sold this “880 sq ft” 1-bedroom full of stone and glass (and wenge) in the oh-so-modern, oh-so-metallic Zinc (475 Greenwich Street) for $1.375mm the day before the contract at 463 Greenwich Street was fully signed.

Obviously, they love the neighborhood. Apparently, they needed more space. Presumably, they came to appreciate the classic Tribeca loft form while living in a modern … er … knock-off. (No insult intended.) Snobs like me just love that sort of move.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 19, 2013 - 152 Wooster Street loft shows that character matters, competition drives premium


War Week resumes

Some stories never get old, so here’s another one from the Bidding War Files. The cool things about the “1,360 sq ft” Manhattan loft #2C at 152 Wooster Street that just sold 12% above the asking price require me to quote from some professional broker babble: “a true downtown Artist's loft with the kind of soul, character, and warmth rarely found in today's loft market” and “this spacious & solid property truly stands out from many of the narrow rectangles or glass box ‘lofty’ apartments available in the area”. Check, and check. It didn’t last long (contract within 4 weeks), just as I predicted to my buyer who visited in that month. On the one hand, it’s nice to be proven right (“this one is not going to last; may need more work than you want, but lots of character, large space, efficient floor plan for real BR + interior room”); on the other hand, someone just paid $1,287/ft for the opportunity to spend another couple of hundred bucks a foot to bring this space up to modern standards.

Here’s why: 11 foot ceilings, 9 windows, cast-iron columns, a square footprint (with plumbing stub*), good light (for now**), “handsomely worn [!] wide-plank hardwood flooring”, at a surprisingly quiet prime Soho location, just south of Houston Street. (*That stub is the major challenge on the floor plan: no one these days puts the only bathroom at the end of a galley kitchen; I can’t remember the story about plumbing stacks, but I am pretty sure one can move that bath and add another, though it doesn’t make much sense to use the stub in any way but the kitchen.)

The bathroom placement is one hint that this loft was built out long ago; the glass brick in the curved master bedroom wall is another. I don’t imagine that a buyer bid this place up to leave it as it is; I expect the new owner to erase the lines on the floor plan and start new.

a postcard from a loft at war
Mar 15 new to market $1.565mm

April 12 contract

July 15 $1.75mm

about those double asterisks

The loft gets a lot of light for a second floor loft in the back of a building, in part because the building to the east is short (4 or 5 stories), in part because the summer sun is high (listing photo #5 gives the best sense of how close the building is and how light the narrow space can be), and in (major) part because the southern exposure is wide open over a parking lot. (The last listing photo shows an old single story structure abutting 152 Wooster that the parking lot wraps behind and next to.) Every single moderately interested potential buyer asked the agents about development plans for that lot (any development would close up the 3 south windows in loft #2C) and got this story, more or less: there are no current public plans to develop the lot but the owner has made efforts to do so in the past, any buyer should do their own diligence, but there can be no assurance that the loft won’t be developed at some time in the future. Cold comfort, indeed, but obviously not a deal breaker.

Any prudent buyer would enjoy the light while it lasts but would expect to lose the 3 south windows, sooner or (more likely) later. The loft’s principal charms are not dependent on that light, and there is no ‘view’ to speak of.

If it were my loft, I’d erase all the lines on the floor plan and build an interior master in the northwest corner; if I needed another bedroom I’d probably add another one along the north wall but still away from the windows. I’d leave the east windows open to the main space to bring as much of that light in as possible. I wish I could remember where the plumbing stacks are, but I can’t; I am pretty sure there is at least one place on the south wall but “in the square” a bath can be added, possibly two. I’d definitely build a new kitchen pretty much where the current on is, and I might well update that oddly placed bath. I’d expect to spend $200/ft or more, but if I had a partner with expensive tastes I would be prepared to pay more.

I’d end up with a $1,500/ft loft in a no-frills coop on a wonderful Soho block. (Gulp.) If I had a renovation budget a lot bigger than $200/ft I might end up with something like this, which some people would argue is worth around $2,000/ft.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 18, 2013 - diversion is the opposite of the muck: a heartwarming story of staggering friendship


why do people do the good things they do?

This story by Bryan oops Cave Curtis on Grantland is why Grantland is Grantland: The Stokes Game tells the story of NBA player Maurice Stokes and his teammate and guardian Jack Twyman. If you don’t know the basic story, read it as a window into a wonderful account of when pro basketball players were really brothers; if you do know the story, read it as a wonderful refresher that will also tell you things you did not know.

Personally, this stuff has been familiar to me since I was a kid playing basketball, going to basketball camps, starting to follow the NBA, but I had forgotten how young Stokes and Twyman were:

When the Shooter decided to devote his life to caring for Stokes, he was 24 years old. "What am I going to do?" Twyman told a teammate. "I'm from Pittsburgh, he's from Pittsburgh. He didn't have any family here. I just did it."

Twenty-four years old! Making a decision to take care of a guy for the rest of his life, which he did faithfully. It is easy to sentimentalize the relationship between Twyman and Stokes, to gloss over the details of what it meant for Twyman to do this; heck, it is hard not to do that any time you try to tell a story like this.

Twenty-four years old! Making about $15,000 a year but dedicating your life to somehow, some way, taking care of a teammate.

Even if you know what Stokes said the first time he could communicate on a typewriter, this will make you stop and blink a bit:

As part of Stokes's therapy, the hospital staff hung a sling near his bed. Stokes placed his left wrist in the sling, and it allowed him to suspend his hand above a nearby typewriter. Stokes typed his first sentence for Twyman. It was a difficult task and it took him about a week to complete. The sentence read: "How can I ever thank you for all you've done?"

Especially if you are tired of hearing about ARod, Tejada, Braun and the rest of that tawdry business, read the wonderful Cave Curtis piece.

Twenty-four years old!

Just last night I was speaking to the partner of a deceased friend. That friend had a few signature greetings, one of which was “did you make a difference today?” Twyman made a difference every day. Like my friend Charles, he’s an inspiration. Human, with faults, no doubt, like each of us.


Saints do walk among us.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 17, 2013 - challenging American Thread loft at 260 West Broadway finally sells (contract took 50 weeks)


fools rush in (here comes Manhattan Loft Guy) ...

It is hard to argue with success, but I am going to try. The “1,365 sq ft” duplex Manhattan loft #9E at 260 West Broadway in the iconic American Thread Company Building sold on July 17 at a per-foot price that exceeds all but a couple of non-penthouse sales in this first great Tribeca condo conversion, with the most recent marketing effort taking just 9 weeks to get to contract at a reasonable discount (6%) off that starting price (the clearing price was $2.025mm). The sheen dims a bit when you match that recent marketing effort with the prior effort, which was recent enough to be continuous for my purposes in tracking on my Master List of Downtown Loft Sales; all in, the full history is:

May 24, 2012

new to market


June 22



Sept 26



Jan 2, 2013



Mar 7

change firms


April 21



May 10



July 17



At $1,483/ft, among non-penthouse sales here, that’s higher than the two “A” line sales a year ago and is exceeded only by the private #9G sale at the Peak and by the much larger and much nicer sale of #10B way back in October 2006 (StreetEasy building page, here). Why complain about that??

why 50 weeks?

The schedule contains a hint of a problem: to market May 24, 2012, in contract May 10, 2013, with the clearing price only a 4% discount from the (unsuccessful) asking price from the last quarter of 2012 (a price that succeeded this past Spring). If this had happened in a thin market, you’d say the price wasn’t wrong, the loft just needed exposure to find one of those few buyers. But (as you know) the market in late 2012 (continuing) is a seller’s market, with many frustrated buyers complaining about there not being enough inventory. (See the newspaper articles too numerous to cite.)

The listing photos contain a hint of the (to me) most logical reason: every photo that shows a no-detail-spared-renovation that has a window in it (almost all of them) shows the window at an extreme angle or pictures the windows with the shades down. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a 9th floor “light-filled southwest facing” loft would be (you know) so light filled that you could see what is out the windows. (The 2012 marketing photos are similar, though that broker babble promises nothing about light.)

Fact is, the single exposure (much more west than south west) faces the narrow St. John’s Lane and the 10-story office building that you can just see to the left (west) of American Thread on the StreetEasy building page. (That “L” shaped building is slated for … (can you guess?) … condominium development, per this June 21, 2012 New York Post article.) My recollection is that the 10-story 30-32 Varick Street is almost as tall as the 12-story American Thread, so the west windows on the 9th and 10th floors in the condo get no direct sunlight; and I assume that if the 10th floor got direct light the shades in the 3rd listing photo (through which you can just make out the nearby building) would be open.

So here’s my theory: buyers who really wanted light wasted their time visiting loft #9E, and buyers who really wanted light who visited after seeing “light-filled southwest facing” shouted in the 2013 broker babble not only wasted their time but were probably mad about it. There is a market for beautiful lofts in iconic Tribeca condominiums that lack direct light (as proven by the fact that someone just paid $1,483/ft for this one). But that is not an especially deep market, and it may in fact be a market that would appreciate the direct comment in the babble about the (poor) light. I know that people who really want a “light-filled” loft are not going to find much light to like in loft #9E.

The buyer is presumably happy to have bought the loft, shaded windows and all. The sellers may not be unhappy about it taking nearly a year to get to contract (though they did replace the marketing team once, finding a team that would describe their place as “light-filled”). If the principals are happy, who can complain?

Just a guy with a blog. A Manhattan Loft Guy, with a blog.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 16, 2013 - oh dear! 292 Lafayette Street loft goes to war, slays famous neighbors


comps, but no comparison

The last time we visited 292 Lafayette Street together there was a somewhat primitive loft with somewhat famous sellers that sold at $1,033/ft. Today's visit is occasioned by the "1,600 sq ft" Manhattan loft #2E at 292 Lafayette Street, which sold on July 17 at $2.7mm, or ... (wait for it) ... a rather staggering $1,687/ft. Obviously, the story involves the difference in condition, thought here may also be a timing issues, as loft #4W was a current deed when I hit in my April 8, not new news, but Sonic Youth sell close to raw loft at 292 Lafayette at $1,033/ft, but the deed was stale, as the sale was in October 2012. (Fun fact: loft #2E made a cameo in that April post, "which sold for an impressive $2.255mm in a near-Peak deal in early 2008".)

The broker babble starts well, and gets better. I am not going to quote all the goodies, just the start, but you must read the whole thing and drink in the large format photos. Loft #2E is, in fact, a "rare and authentic corner loft is renovated to perfection and captures the true spirit and essence of Downtown living!" The nearly square shape helps a great deal, as does the corner location with east and south exposures. The classic loft elements of exposed brick, tin ceilings, and (especially) the timber beams and columns make it all work in a way that, for me and other Loft Snobs, the exact same shape would not without them (especially the timber beams and columns).

I noted in that April 8 post that the eats lofts have done better than the west lofts here. For those whom the 2nd floor location is a problem, lets hope that the windows have already been upgraded, and I have two wonderful words: Puck Building! Just lookout the east windows in the first two listing photos. Yes, you are not high off the sidewalk and there's a lot of traffic on Lafayette, but go back to those two words....

leaving 2008 in The dust

You know from the headline that there was competition to value loft #2E at $2.7mm. The details:

April 22

new to market


May 15



July 17




(Yes, Go To War Week continues.) The story was not so different in 2008, though at a different scale:

March 14, 2008

new to market


April 10



July 9



Forget the Sonic Youth folks ... there's the real story.  Loft #2E set a building record at $1,409/ft in 2008 that stood until it just sold again at $1,687/ft. (See the StreetEasy building page, here). Yes, that was a post-Peak sale in 2008, but not a very post-Peak sale. Same loft, in same condition (with a bit more Wear on its tread, in fact) just re-sold at a 20% premium to post-Peak.

Shark Week continues!

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Aug. 15, 2013 - Flower District mini-loft sells above ask but flat to 2007 at 131 West 28 Street

Go To War Week continues
I can never top Shark Week, but this is the third post in a row about a Manhattan loft that sold above asking price. In the other two posts (August 12, from raw to mints, 14 Jay Street loft doubles in value, and August 14, difficult penthouse loft sells above ask at 399 Washington Street), my emphasis was more on the renovations and change in value (and to their relationship to each other as comps); in the case of the “900 sq ft” Manhattan mini-loft #3A at 131 West 28 Street, there was a bidding war (eventually), there was a renovation (a while back), but the most interesting angle (to me … it’s my blog!) is that loft #3A sold on July 13 at $845,000, essentially flat to the $840,000 that the recent seller paid to buy it in July  2007. This data point, at least, supports the view that the current hyper-local Flower District market is down since The Peak (since the $840,000 value was a half-year pre-Peak).

But first, the mild skirmish that generated the $845,000 sale:
Sept 27, 2012 new to market $875,000
Jan 14, 2013    
April 17 contract $840,000
July 15 sold $845,000
That’s only a “mild skirmish” because the deal followed a price drop by 3 months and because it generated a mere 0.6% “premium” to the (reduced) ask. Whether or not there was more than one bidder (likely, yes), the buyer thought there was enough competition to bid (a tiny bit) over ask. This is hardly the sort of sale to increase buyer anxiety, though it technically fits at least one of the Higgins Factors Leading To BUYER PANIC!!!™, for the same reasons it was only a mild skirmish.
flexibility, at a price
Blame the folks who sold to the 2007 sellers in 2006 for the layout (and give them credit for the lovely renovation). You can’t tell from StreetEasy, but our listing system has the 2006 marketing materials that show that the floor plan has that odd set of closets that sets off the living area from the “den / sleep” area because the 2006 sellers used that space as their master bedroom (notwithstanding the lack of walls-to-ceiling, or door). In exchange for having one real bedroom plus this the “den / sleep” area, you get a main living area that gets no direct light and (after you take 2 steps into the loft) no view of a window, although, as the broker babble explains “the wall of closets separating the living and den can easily be removed creating one large open living space”.
That closet wall separating the “den” from the living area creates two seating areas (as used by the recent sellers) or a second sleeping area, at the not-trivial cost of keeping direct light out of the main area and kitchen. Worked for the 2006 sellers, for the 2007 sellers, and for the 2013 sellers, and (apparently) it still works for the 2013 buyers. (If it doesn’t suit that last group, they will take the closet down [if they all sleep in one bed] or raise it to the ceilings and add a door [if they need two places to sleep regularly].)
there are more proper proper names to drop than you see
The broker babble is conventionally specific, and enthusiastic:
a modern renovation, yet … original charm and prewar details. Large double glazed windows framed with original chestnut … sunny Southern exposure, Chef’s kitchen with granite counters, stainless steel appliances, Miele dishwasher, Viking Pro burner oven, Dacor SS Microwave, Murano style glass pendant lighting, and Brookstone custom cabinetry. Currently configured as a 1 bedroom with living room and a den which could also be perfect for an additional sleeping area or nursery though the wall of closets separating the living and den can easily be removed creating one large open living space. Washer/dryer ….
The former broker babble is still on StreetEasy (without pix or floor plan, but it ain’t nothing) by agents you can count on to lay on the detail:
newly renovated, spacious 900SF loft has great storage and provides lighting in shallow high hats and attractive Techline wall washer low profile tracks on Lutron dimmers….the front windows are original chestnut and are augmented by double glazed insulated double hung windows of the tilt-in to clean variety. The current lay out accommodates one child's room and one master sleeping area in the front of the loft, but is flexible to adapt to other needs as well. The beautiful new kitchen features Miele D/W, Viking Pro burner oven, "Blue Safire" granite counters with dining overhang and Murano style glass pendant lighting. Also featured are a Dacor SS Microwave with screen logic controls; GE Profile SS French Door refrigerator with water filter and inset door dispenser, a Grohe single level fixtured faucet with extra deep sound attenuating Elkay sink, and fully extending Häfele drawer pulls on all of the new Brookstone custom cabinetry. A custom pantry and slate style tiled backsplashes and floors complete this family-style kitchen.The large bathroom features Kohler & Moen fixtures and has a bathtub with enclosed glass door for the shower. A washer dryer ….
Personally, I love that much detail in babble, so long as the stuff is worth babbling about in the first place. Especially at this 6-figure price point, the detail suggests a mint-ier set of mints than you conventional “triple mint” or “meticulously renovated” space.
All this stuff, plus the flexibility to have a second sleep area, for $845,000, or $939/ft, in a still-developing area in east Chelsea.
a snapshot of froth
One last number thing about prior sales. As noted, the renovation was done by the folks who sold in 2006 to the folks who sold in 2007. They sold for $743,500 on November 2, 2006, after doing all that work. Their buyers owned it for less than 9 months, by which time the market value increased by 13%, to $840,000. Those flippers didn’t keep much of that, of course (after paying the $50,400 sales fee, they had a tax bill coming on the regular income of the remainder), but The Market got a flippin’ bump of 13%.
Froth, indeed. But since then … not so much.
we’ve been here before
If you have a really keen memory and have been reading Manhattan Loft Guy a while, you may recall a similar loft, with (perhaps) a similar renovation, that sold here at (essentially) the same price as #3A way back in 2011. The details and local comps in my August 8, 2011, despite failed contract, 133 West 28 Street small loft sells above ask in a refreshingly efficient market, suggest that this hyper-local market has hardly changed in 2 years. That’s weird.
If you read that post, you will see this bit of Manhattan Loft Guy musing:
I have often wondered what was going on in this neighborhood before the flower folk moved in; windows are big, so let in a lot of light; some buildings are not very deep, so light does nto [sic] have to travel very far; but low ceilings are inefficient for bringing light into a space ….
Which leads me to the research of a transplanted Buckeye…
if you are a history buff …
If you are not familiar with the research, photos and musings of Daytonian in Manhattan, you should be. He’s got a fascinating piece on this building that starts with the architecture and moves to an extensive history, ending with this nugget:
In 1982 the upper floors were renovated to become 24 loft dwellings with four apartments per floor.  The owners of $1 million homes are most likely unaware that they are living where radical union members were once involved in stabbings, shootings and violent beatings.
Great stuff! (To answer my musing: thsi loft building had wholesale flowers at street level a hundred years ago, with offices above.) Thanks, tranplanted buckeye!
© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 14, 2013 - difficult penthouse loft sells above ask at 399 Washington Street


attention to some details, not others

The “1,800 sq ft” Manhattan penthouse loft on the 5th floor of 399 Washington Street at a funny little corner in Northwest Tribeca has many surface similarities to the raw-to-mints-in-3-years loft that I hit in Monday’s from raw to mints, 14 Jay Street loft doubles in value. They are approximately the same size Long-and-Narrow lofts with similarly enthusiastic broker babble about their renovations into 2-bedroom 2-bath arrays in small no-frills coop buildings a few hundred yards from each other in Tribeca; the market snapped them both up (contracts in 20 and 27 days), both for $100,000 more than the asking price. (This penthouse got $2.3mm on July 18.) But it is the differences between them that most interest me.


Most obviously, most buyers will view Jay Street off Hudson as close to prime Tribeca while Washington Street off Hubert suffers from proximity to the deadening dead-end of the Citi-complex. The top-floor Washington Street earns the “penthouse” moniker for having private rooftop space, yet the smaller (in theory) Jay Street loft sold much higher. Finally, while the layouts are similar, the more I look at the Washington Street floor plan the more irritated I get.

of course everyone is in the kitchen

Let’s start with the broker babble:

meticulously renovated in 2009 with mindful attention to detail that even the most discerning aesthetic eye will appreciate. The loft is topped off with a deeded roof deck that offers a respite from busy city life. A spectacular light-infusing skylight is the crown jewel of the loft. Imbued with a clean look, the loft features a professional chefs kitchen with 30ft of custom white glass cabinetry, 10ft ceilings, 7ft tall windows and more. The dream kitchen boasts glass tile backsplash and absolute noir Caesar stone quartz countertops that create an understated elegance. A grand scale master bedroom suite including customized walk-in closet and master bath completes this loft.

You don’t need the floor plan to conclude that that kitchen (with 30 feet of cabinetry) dominates the public space but it helps to have the 1” = 12’ thingy and the first two listing photos. Especially in comparison to 30 feet of kitchen cabinets, that living room is … er … cozy. Open to the kitchen area, obviously, but in terms of defined space (the rug, the seating, the entrance), the “living area” gets a small percentage of the main open room (a third?). If the photos actually capture how the sellers lived in the space, there is almost as much seating at the kitchen island as in the living room, and much more at the dining table than in the living room.

what do you think of this floor plan??

They owned it (and built it), so were free to do what they wanted. (Ah, the freedom of loft living!) But I would be surprised if most buyers would prefer a more conventional distribution of space in the front. My guess is that they wanted to put the island and the main kitchen utilities under that big skylight, which then dictated a loooong kitchen rather than an “L” shaped kitchen open to the front. (What else to do with the stairway wall opposite the “den/bedroom”, other than cabinets or closets?)

It gets worse (more odd) in the back …. Maybe there is something especially restrictive about where the plumbing stacks are at 399 Washington, but that master suite layout is pretty weird, and wasteful. That master bath nearly blocks 2 of the 4 windows, and there’s got to be a more efficient way to use that back space (especially if you could move the master bath where the walk-in closet is). Again, the plumbing stacks may dictate this array, but you are left with a “den/bedroom” with half a skylight but no window, instead of side-by-side bedroom son the rear wall like so many Long-and-Narrow lofts.

But that’s not all!

If someone is sleeping in that “den/bedroom”, note the odyssey needed in the middle of the night: out the door that is nearly as far back as it can be; walk 50 feet through Scylla and Charybdis between the kitchen cabinetry and island; make a U-turn through the elevator lobby; and (finally) open the door at the end of that odd extended foyer. Relief! That second bathroom is about 20 feet from the nearest corner of the “den/bedroom”, but is blocked by that huge kitchen; hence, a long walk in your PJs to use the WC. Weird.

Don’t you love the brick detail highlighted in bright red (pic #13 in the duplicating listing photos)? There’s the remains of an archway that probably provided access between 399 Washington and its neighboring warehouse or factory. There’s the hinge remnants on that elevator wall.

It took me an unusually long time to figure out that the red photo is the elevator lobby, meant to be forgotten on making the hard left off the elevator “into” the loft. It remains a vestigial space, with plumbing for a washer-dryer and that 2nd bath, but cut off visually from the loft proper, and a long walk to the loo for anyone not sleeping in the master. Wasting the corridor needed to retain access to the public stairwell.

Weird. All because these folks wanted a 30 foot run of kitchen cabinets. I am not saying the 2009 renovation was not done with “mindful attention to detail that even the most discerning aesthetic eye will appreciate”; just that my (discerning?) eye does not appreciate the details they chose to be mindful of, and wishes they had focused on other details.

One more thing about the floor plan: the outdoor space is not on it. Nor is it described by size in the broker babble. From the last listing photo, it appears to be less than 20 x 20 feet, with no attention having been paid to it in the renovation. The wood decking long predates the 2009 interior renovation; the 3 lonely (plastic?) chairs confirm that no one spent much thought or time up here. Not much of a respite from city living up there now, but certainly there’s the opportunity to exploit it.

we got comps

Just for fun, let's ballpark that roofdeck at 400 sq ft, and assume it is worth a generous 33% of the interior space on a dollar per foot basis (splitting the rubric of 25% to 50% of The Miller, with which I love to riff). That implies an adjusted value for this penthouse loft of $1,190/ft. That compares (very poorly) to the $1,543/ft for Monday’s loft at 14 Jay Street.

Part of that difference in value is undoubtedly due to location, part of it is probably due to the 399 Washington penthouse not really being “1,800 sq ft” (so the $/ft value is understated), part of the deficit is likely due to the mints being mintier at 14 Jay Street, and I would really like to believe that part of the deficit is due to the odd layout choices the 399 Washington Street owners made in the 2009 renovation.

One more parallel between these two lofts: the 14 Jay Street sellers did a gut renovation after buying the loft raw in 2010; the 399 Washington Street sellers did a “meticulous” renovation in 2009, after buying the loft (in unknown condition) in 2006 for $1.48mm. I am going to guess that the Jay Street sellers put more money into their renovation; they certainly got more out of it. (They doubled the value in 3 years after renovating; the penthouse folks merely increased the worth by 55% in 7 years before deducting for renovation costs.)

Comping is fun!

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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Aug. 12, 2013 - from raw to mints, 14 Jay Street loft doubles in value


old market news, newly closed

The recently sold “1,620 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor at 14 Jay Street is a rather recent sale (July 15) but it does not reflect the recent market: the deal that just closed was entered into last Fall (contract date is October 24). Well, it is kinda sorta like the current market, as it was a very quick contract (to market October 4) and it went above ask ($2.5mm, though asked $2.4mm), which is very much like the current market. But you can’t blame the current market for this one. This one is from the famously Sellers Market of late last year.


Indeed, this loft was so beloved by that market that the seller could get away with insisting (as in the listing description) on a “June closing” (which turned out to be July 15; but still). Just think about the change in interest rates from last year, through the first half of this year, to the current environment. (Don’t make me find a cite, but the historically low rates that had been stable until the last few months have been creeping up; if this buyer waited too long to lock in a rate, or was charged a market fee to lock in a favorable rate, the buyer paid heavily for the honor of waiting an extra 8 months to close.)

I will get to the obvious quality of the loft in a moment, but here’s another indication 

of the quality of the loft

(in addition to the quick contract, above ask, with a delayed closing): the folks who just cashed out at $2.5mm bought the thing in January 2010 for $1.25mm as a “raw” loft (“[n]eeds everything, nothing is salvageable”). Bet you a quarter they put a lot less than $1.25mm into the build-out.

about that quality, obviously

They weren’t kidding in 2010 about nothing being salvageable. The new place has new windows, and a bunch of other goodies:

Triple Mint 2 bedroom 2 bath on one of Tribeca's most sought after cobble stone blocks. This gut renovation includes new oversized windows, exposed brick and a keyed elevator that opens directly into the loft. The open living and dining room offers oak floors and French doors opening out onto quiet Jay Street. The large custom kitchen features wooden accents from the original Coney Island boardwalk, a one-of-a-kind sealed metal counter, and top of the line stainless appliances (Liebherr, Bertazzoni, Bosch, Miele, Marvel). The master bedroom offers an abundance of walk-in closet space as well as an ensuite bath outfitted with Ann Sacks tiles. Extra storage throughout, full sized washer/dryer, central AC/heat.

Even if they spent $350/ft for all these goodies, that’s only $567,000 of the $1.25mm spread between January 2010 (November 2009 contract) and July 2013 (really, October 2012). Nice work, nicely worked.

The floor plan is a classic in a Long-and-Narrow: 2 bedrooms in the stuttered rear and plumbing in the middle for the back-to-back bathrooms behind the kitchen. Another floor plan in the building shows the width as just under 21 feet, which looks right from the photos and permits 2 reasonably sized bedrooms side-by-side and a square-ish front room, 3 windows wide over Jay Street. As with many Long-and-Narrow lofts, the entry splits the kitchen and dining areas, which some buyers don’t like, but which makes it easy to put a basket of keys on the kitchen counter.

The photos show that at least one long length of brick wall was, in fact, salvageable (I guess they were kidding, a little), and that they dropped the ceilings a bit for recessed lighting but not so much as to enclose the sprinkler lines. The exposed main water (waste?) line (see pic #3) may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it is to that of the three most important folks (the sellers, the buyers, and Manhattan Loft Guy). Nice touch, either restored, or preserved, or opened up. (The “wooden accents from the original Coney Island boardwalk” are not so easily identified, or necessarily so loft-y, but that’s cool.)

The result of all this nice work was that a modest-sized unit in a no-frills coop just sold without bragging about light or views for $1,543/ft. Yes, prime Tribeca, and yes, a nice build-out, but Fifteen Hundred Dollars a foot. Three years after buying at $750/ft and then building it out on an unknown budget.

Nice work, nicely worked, indeed.

© 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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