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Manhattan Loft Guy

Jan. 2, 2013 - more views at risk, as another 315 West 36 Street neighbor sells

“put your hands up, we’ve got you surrounded”
If buildings could talk, that’s what the 2-story garage across 36th Street from the residential Manhattan loft building at 315 West 36 Street might say to its residential neighbor. Word comes today that another Manhattan a development site masquerading as a two-sided parking facility has dropped the pretense, as it has just been sold (Hotel likely for $20M Midtown West site). Of course, that garage could not surround its 17-story 20-residential-unit neighbor by itself, but if a tall hotel goes up here (as apparently planned) that will block at least some of the wonderful south light at 315 West 36 Street, just as the planned hotel at 312-318 West 37 Street that I hit in my August 18, 2011, much diligence due over planned hotel in West 37 Street, will block some of the north light at 315 West 36 Street. Hotel towers both north and south is enough for me to conjure an imaginary conversation between collections of bricks, mortar and steel.

Here’s the deal via The Real Deal:

Raber Enterprises has paid $33.5 million for two adjacent commercial lots in Midtown West, and is likely to develop a hotel on the site, The Real Deal has learned.

The deal for 320 West 36th Street, an 8,145 square-foot lot, and 321 West 35th Street, a 3,521 square-foot-lot, closed on Dec. 18. Both lots are currently occupied by two-story parking garages.

Like the parking lot on West 37th Street that prompted my August 18, 2011 post when it sold, Property Shark shows that this garage with narrow frontage on West 35th Street is zoned for commercial use, with a Floor Area Ratio of 10, yielding a potential development of 116,660 sq ft (81,450 sq ft for the West 36th Street garage and 35,210 sq ft for the West 35th Street frontage). My guess is that the entrance would be on West 35th Street, with the largest and tallest part being on the back, toward West 36 Street, easily 20 stories if the other zoning regulations allow. For those of you who can access The Shark, the building photo for 320 West 35 Street will revive the New Year’s hangover for anyone with a southern exposure at 315 West 36 Street -- the building looming over the garage in the photo.

If you can’t access The Shark, you can zoom in on the map from The Google to see the 321 West 35 Street rooftop, then the cars parked on adjoining 320 West 36 Street roof, then the mass of 315 West 36 Street across just to the north, with the green planting terraces, or just pan around from 320 West 36 Street on Google StreetView to see 315 West 36 Street directly across from 320 West 36 Street.

quoting oneself is a higher form of flattery
See that August 18, 2011 post for a discussion and links about view diligence focused on 315 West 36 Street from the other side, with some other specific Manhattan loft neighborhood examples, and with some general observations, and even a practical suggestion. I will quote here only the intro to that post:

Part of the charm of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere), for me and I suspect for many people, is that they may be ‘developing’ neighborhoods, with a certain vitality missing from more staid (mature) residential areas and (often, at least early) a discount from the overall market because the ‘developing’ neighborhood may be a little more gritty than mature residential areas.


Part of the risk of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere) that are ‘developing’ neighborhoods is that they … uhhh … will continue to develop.

price is going up (d’oh!)
That 2011 parking lot sale on West 37th Street yielded 99,730 sq ft of FAR, at a cost of $20.8mm. The recent sale of the paired garages to the south was at $33.5mm for 116,660 sq ft of FAR. Assuming (dangerously, but still) that only that FAR is available in all cases, the price per developable foot on the back of my envelope has gone from $209/ft to $287/ft in 16 months.

Did I mention that ‘developing’ neighborhoods tend to … develop?

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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Jun. 11, 2012 - market cruelty or mean streets? gut renovated sundrenched 347 West 39 Street loft closes at $675/ft, unadjusted for terraces

John McCain was right
No, John McCain was not talking about Manhattan lofts, but is there anything more cruel than the history of the “2,000 sq ft” Manhattan loft #8E at 347 West 39 Street? To market on August 11, 2011 at $1.945mm, 4 price drops to a contract in February, and a closing at $1.35mm on April 28. That is 30% off the first ask and $675/ft before considering 250 sq ft of terraces. C. R. U. E. L. Value the outdoor spaces at 25% of the value of the interior space (at 4’ and 4’6” “wide” they are not as useful as deeper space) and you get $654/ft. Even more cruel.

Here is what it looks like in cold blood print:

Aug 2, 2011 new to market $1.945mm
Aug 31   $1.875mm
Oct 15   $1.775mm
Nov 17   $1.575mm
Dec 15   $1.42mm
Feb 17, 2012 contract  
April 24 sold* $1.35mm

(*Sales price is not yet publicly available, but it is a Corcoran listing, with that closed price in our system.)

If you’re not getting teary yet, check out the money quote from the broker babble:

Fabulous light from sunrise to sunset. This Fully gut renovated sundrenched loft shows sprawling Tribeca loft finishes. Soaring eleven foot beamed ceilings and natural oak floors …. SOUTHERN, NORTHERN and EASTERN windows with open CITY views. The chef’s kitchen … is fitted with a Wolfe professional range with SIX burners, griddle and a magnificent double oven, side by side Sub Zero refrigerator, two drawer miele dishwasher, open shelving and ample cabinets. Both bathrooms are beautifully renovated with every modern finish and exquisite elegance.

You have to go back to November on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 to find as many as ten lofts that sold for a lower price per foot, and I am 99.44% sure, even without looking further, that none of those ten was gut renovated, with fabulous light.

a neighborhood problem?
Of course comping is hard, and harder still in a building in which there have been no sales since The Peak. Judging solely from the distance from the initial asking price ot the closing price, the seller and agent were surprised that loft #8E was so bruised by The Market. But it may not simply be a cruel market that is to blame for an outlier.

There are not many lofts in this stretch of the West 30s that have been converted to coops or condos, so there are not many comps even nearby. I see no other West 39 Street coops or condos on this same block between 8th and 9th Avenues, none on West 40 Street in the 300 block, only 335 West 38 Street and 344 West 38 Street to the immediate south, none on this block on West 37 Street, and five loft buildings on the 300 block of West 36 Street.

The most interesting recent nearby sale was the “2,600 sq ft” 11th floor loft at 335 West 38 Street, which cleared at $2mm on February 7. Bragging there was limited to the “professional chef’s kitchen” and “authentic loft details”, yet that one closed at $769/ft, a 14% premium to #8E at 347 West 39 Street on an (unadjusted) price per foot basis.

Even the “3,100 sq ft” (true) artist’s loft on the 10th floor of 361 West 36 Street sold for a higher value than #8E, clearing at $2.25mm ($726/ft) in September 2010.

The “2,825 sq ft” loft #6N at 360 West 36 Street was sold on March 19 with no bragging about finishes or condition, yet even that sold for $1.9mm, or $673/ft, just above #8E after any adjustment for the two #8E terraces.

Can we agree that these blocks are among the most authentically gritty Manhattan blocks with residential lofts on them? Unlike the blocks to the immediate west, these lofts do not typically have the benefit of open vistas over the Lincoln Tunnel spillways (such as from the Glass Farmhouse, 448 West 37 Street).

Net-net, lofts on these gritty blocks are subject to a significant discount in The Market, but #8E at 347 West 39 Street seems to have been unusually discounted even in comparison to its neighbors. Perhaps not to the level of Mccain cruelty, but gut renovated lofts with fabulous light feel as though they should be worth more than $700/ft even in Grit Land.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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Aug. 18, 2011 - much diligence due over planned hotel in West 37 Street

how tall is a 300 unit hotel, anyway?
Part of the charm of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere), for me and I suspect for many people, is that they may be ‘developing’ neighborhoods, with a certain vitality missing from more staid (mature) residential areas and (often, at least early) a discount from the overall market because the ‘developing’ neighborhood may be a little more gritty than mature residential areas.

Part of the risk of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere) that are ‘developing’ neighborhoods is that they … uhhh … will continue to develop. Take the West 30s in Manhattan, for example, with classic loft buildings sitting on very gritty blocks, such as the Glass Farmhouse at 448 West 37 Street, the Cass Gilbert at 130 West 30 Street, the Courant and the Hartford at 360 and 348 West 36 Street (I love those names), the West Side Lofts at 347 West 39 Street, or 315 West 36 Street (why didn’t they give that one a name??).

In blogging terms, I hit this issue in this neighborhood a million years ago (in real terms, in my September 14, 2006, West 30s ready for a close-up (but send Max back to Bible study) and in my July 31, 2006, More on lofts with views / Big Sky Country in the West 30s, in which I noted “As grist for a future blog post, a couple of these buildings have nearby development slated which will impact some of the views, but that is for another day….”). Ladies and Germs, it is that other day!

CAUTION: views and light in Manhattan may be temporary
All of which is a roundabout way (the Manhattan Loft Guy way!) of introducing this news item from DNAinfo: Garment District Parking Lot to Become Hotel (h/t TRD) with this as The Story:

The Albanese Organization and The Buccini/Polin Group have purchased the parking lot at 312-318 W. 37th St. for $20.8 million from a pair of families that owned it for nearly a century.

The developers say they plan to build a 300-room hotel on the lot.

There is a nice photo of the parking lot on Property Shark, which also reveals that the roughly 100 ft x 100 ft lot has a Floor Area Ratio of 10, meaning that if the zoning otherwise allows it the lot could be built to its borders 10 stories high, or if the building took up only half the area of the lot, 20 stories high. Now look at that list of classic loft buildings sitting on very gritty blocks in the West 30s above. The Property Shark page for (the unnamed) 315 West 36 Street shows that much of this 140 foot wide 2006 condo conversion is directly south of the planned hotel at 312-318 West 37 Street.

I bet that everyone on with north-facing windows at 315 West 36 Street has been (or will be) researching the zoning regs and the plans for the hotel. Depending on the size and shape of the hotel (if it is ever built, of course), the “B”, “C” and “D” lines are in danger of losing some or all of their open north exposures (some north-facing units here have lovely terraces). I hope that every one considering buying one of these north-facing units is diligent enough to know about the plans to build the hotel (which may never be built, of course).

I hope.

I hit the issue of losing one’s view in my June 27, 2011, 542 LaGuardia Place sale from February is news to New York Times readers, which dealt with controversial (and long term) development plans by NYU, but the issue is much more common than you’d think. Consider the American Thread Building at 260 West Broadway in Tribeca, and the hotel that got built 25 years later nearly touching the north facades. Or -- in the best example of forever views not being forever -- the whole development of the shamefully named Riverside Boulevard by that ego maniac.

I hit those two examples and others in my July 11, 2006, Now you see it (and pay for it), now you don’t / what are views worth? (another million year old blog post!). That post was occasioned by an article in The Real Deal that directly bears on this risky-views-in-developing-nabes issue (hint: “development ... can both destroy views and increase real estate values”). That TRD article (now seemingly vanished from the inter-tubes, darn) used Trumpville as an example, and the development whose views it ruined; let me quote from the article and that Manhattan Loft Guy piece:

What goes around…

Ironically, the article uses the Lincoln Towers buildings (about ten 30-story towers along West End Avenue in the high 60s) as an example of development that can both destroy views and increase real estate values. When the Towers were built in the late 1950s, anyone to the east that used to enjoy Hudson River boats and colorful New Jersey tinted sunsets lost all of that. But – over time – the introduction of so many new residents increased services over time and, thus, property values in the neighborhood.

"The construction of the Lincoln Towers [on the Upper West Side] worked as a positive," Kammerer said. "The expensive limestone buildings enhanced the neighborhood."

When an entire complex of properties like the Lincoln Towers is developed, it elevates the value of neighboring properties, translating into higher property values.

"There is a loss of scenic view but the association to the new units and upgrade in retail services increases the property value," Miller said. "However, more times than not, the view is blocked, but the neighborhood remains unchanged."

Trump’d again!

What’s weird about this example is that it was The Donald’s development over the old rail yards in the West 60s that caused the west-looking Lincoln Towers apartments to lose 95% of their river views, beginning with the first ‘Trump Place” apartments on ‘Riverside Boulevard’ in 1999.

The Lincoln Towers folks undoubtedly looked out over the rail yards for forty years and figured no one could build over that. No one but The Donald, as it turned out.

meanwhile, back on West 36 Street ...
Whether their views are at risk or not, everyone on the north side of 315 West 36 Street will be dealing with construction outside their windows (if the hotel is ever built, of course). I dealt with some of the Big Picture issues in living near a construction project in my March 16, 2010, what about that (not yet) New Construction across the street?.

Here is a start: Community Board 4 meets every month on the first Wednesday at 6:30. Contact CB4 at 212.736.4536 or info@manhattancb4.org. It pays to be diligent!

© Sandy Mattingly 2011
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Aug. 12, 2011 - tired of pi**ing into the wind, 130 West 30 Street loft sellers take money, run

run far, to Jolly Olde, in fact
Although the sellers of the Manhattan loft #12C at 130 West 30 Street (the Cass Gilbert) tried to sell around $2mm in 2006 and again in the post-Lehman market into 2009 at $1.8mm, I would not call them stubborn so much as hopeful when they brought the loft back to market on February 7 at $2.295mm, their highest asking price to date. Hopeful they were, but realistic they turned out to be, with 3 quick price drops leading to a May 10 contract and a July 20 closing at $1.875mm.

The numbers are easier to follow like this, starting with their purchase from the sponsor:

Oct 6, 2004 sold $1,349,181
May 2, 2006 new to market $2.195mm
June 26   $1.995mm
Oct 1 off the market  
Nov 5, 2008 new to market $2.195mm
Dec 21   $1.895mm
Jan 15, 2009   $1.795mm
April 22 off the market  
Feb 7, 2011 new to market $2.295mm
Mar 8   $2.195mm
Mar 24   $2.195m0
April 7   $2.065mm
May 10 contract  
July 20 sold $1.875mm

is persistence an over-rated virtue?
Now that the story has ended well, it is a little less cruel to point out that they offered loft #12C for sale at $2.195mm in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

It is not like they did not give it a shot. Five months in 2006. Nearly 6 months in the tough market nuclear winter, in which they tried three different prices. But the recent campaign is the very model of motivation: price drops after 4 weeks, then 16 days, then 14 days, with a deal finally struck at a nearly 10% discount from that fourth price (18% off the 2011 starting price).

a new locution
The loft would be Long-and-Narrow if it were not Short-and-Wide: you enter on the long wide plumbing wall and are soon in the main room, with 3 real bedrooms across the long wide window wall. A very efficient layout (3 bedrooms in “1,900 sq ft”) with “tons of light throughout the day”.

There is no indication that the owners changed anything significant after buying from the sponsor in 2004, and you will see (above) the reaction of The Market when they tried to flip 19 months later at +63%. Same reaction post-Lehman. Better reaction in that May contract at +39%.

hopeful in 2006, also
There was a very recent very similar sale at the Cass Gilbert when these folks brought loft #12C out at $2.195mm on May 2, 2006. Loft #7C had just closed at $1.75mm on April 25 for essentially the same loft, minus the light and planting terrace (probably). The babble for that loft had one thing that #12C lacked in 2006, however: “Motivated seller.”

That’s a lot of hope in #12C. That is a virtue, too, right?

Jolly Olde, explained
I did not work this datum into the text naturally, so feel that I need to explain the first sub-heading. The notice address for the 2004-buyers-turned-unsuccessful-sellers-until-2011 is in Middlesex, England. I’d love to know when they moved, in order to get a better sense of when their motivation went to 11. Looks as though not until 2011.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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Jul. 28, 2011 - NFL guy sells loft at 347 West 39 Street, Observer gets facts wrong (again)

preferring puns to fact-checking
If you are tired of Manhattan Loft Guy bashing The New York Observer for getting details wrong about Manhattan loft sales, don’t tell me; try this: editorial@observer.com. Today’s bash is, as usual, from a link on The Real Deal, and concerns the July 6 sale of the Manhattan loft #10W at 347 West 39 Street by hard-headed John Riggins, late of the Washington football team with the unfortunate name. The good news is that The Observer scoops StreetEasy on the sale price; the bad news is that some details (both trivial and critical) are just wrong.

Don’t take any of this as gospel, until we talk:

Mr. Riggins’ 1,360-square-foot co-op sold for $1.05 million. The two-bedroom two-bath midtown loft at 347 West 39th Street is not lacking in amenities.

The property was put on the market briefly in 2009, but quickly taken down in the fumbling economy. When the place was re-listed in March of this year, [buyers] rushed in on the deal, entering contract just a month after the property hit the sale block.

The trivia? What they call “amenities” are what most people would call “features” (such as “Eleven foot ceilings, slate flooring, two winged bedrooms, private south facing terrace, and massive spa bathroom with Jacuzzi tub”; OK some might call the terrace an amenity, but most would use “amenities” to refer to building features such as doorman, gym, common roof deck, etc). And there is only one bath, not two, as is evident in the StreetEasy link, the Corcoran listing, and the dozens of places that feed off of the Corcoran listing.

The second paragraph above is as wrong as wriggins, regardless of how you feel about the football punning. The loft was on the market nearly continuously from July 2009 into 2011, with a 6-week breather before changing firms and getting that contract. Perhaps The Observer does not carry a StreetEasy subscription, but here’s what the missing fact-checker would have seen, had he come to work yesterday:

July 7, 2009 new to market $1.45mm
June 1, 2010   $1.295mm
Nov 22 contract  
Jan 27, 2011 back on market  
Jan 28   $1.195mm
Feb 3 off market  
Mar 23 change firms $1.15mm
April 25 contract  

Our listing data-base has some details and dates a bit different (it was our listing after the change in firms), including tantalizing news of an accepted offer within two months of coming to market in July 2009, but the essential contours are the same: the loft was offered for sale continuously for 17 months, then it was “in contract” for two months before that failed, then it was back for a week before a 7 week break when firms changed.

So yes, the buyers may have rushed in when the loft hit the sale block in March, but not after the loft had only been briefly exposed to the market in 2009. It had been fully exposed the entire second half of 2009 and nearly all of 2010, coming off the market only because a deal was struck.

Seriously: why do they get this basic history wrong?

$772/ft for views, finishes and a terrace!
Granted, this part of Big Sky Country is not a favored destination for Manhattan loft buyers, but Riggins had to agree to $1.05mm to sell this “1,360 sq ft” loft. At $772/ft, that’s pretty low for a finished loft with long south and west views that include the river (see the full screen pix on the Corcoran listing for how open that west view is). And the “100 sq ft” terrace is free at that price.

Those windows may need some repair (they did in another loft I saw in this building a few years ago) and it looks like it needs a paint job, but it features a “massive spa bathroom with Jacuzzi tub … custom cedar closets, Sub Zero appliances, [and] Miele washer and dryer”. One possibly off-putting feature is the slate floor, an unusual but hardly unprecedented flooring material in converted loft buildings.

The last sales in the building were around The Peak: #14E at $1.4mm on May 28, 2008 (which is probably this “1,360 sq ft” listing), and #13E at $1.24mm on October 15, 2007 (definitely this “1,400 sq ft” listing). The problem with the north “views” in this building (I saw #13E back in the day), I believe, is that there was a large tower going up; the south views, however, had an angled view of the river. That is two sales with no exterior space at $1,029/ft and $886/ft (if I am right about #14E at “1,360 sq ft”). With that context, #10W at $772/ft doesn’t look that bad.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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Oct. 13, 2010 - One Bed Wonder at Glass Farmhouse lofts goes for $4mm

a very large One Bed Wonder
The New York Observer observed late last week that A Famous Photographer just sold a penthouse of 2 long-combined lofts and roof terrace at 448 West 37 Street [the Glass Farmhouse] for $4mm. While the Observer got some details wrong (at least, different form what I see in city records) it had a very useful link to a Real Estalker post about the loft from February, which in turn has terrific background and a link to a 1999 New York Times article about the loft, the owner, and the neighborhood.

I am less interested in the Famous Photographer than in the fact that he sold “4,101 sq ft” of Manhattan loft One Bed Wonder.

a very wonderful One Bed Wonder
The last time I hit the Manhattan Loft Guy category of One Bed Wonders (September 16, "true Soho loft" at 169 Mercer St closes at $766/ft, with a collection of OBW links) I closed with the note-to-self to pay more attention to the genus, as it had been quite a while since I had noted one. Mirable dictu! here we are (thanks to the Observer) less than a month later. Would that all MLG resolutions resolved so quickly....

Even for Manhattan lofts, “4,101 sq ft” is a very large one bedroom unit. And make no mistake: despite being described as a 2-bedroom loft, with the only route to the master suite requiring transit through what is labeled the other “bedroom” on the floor plan, the current layout does not work as a real 2-bedroom loft. But what a loft!

Much of the loft is set back from the building edge, leading to the “L” shaped terrace of “1,500 sq ft”. Ceilings are 16 feet, much of which is open to the sky, with an electric system for shades for the skylights. Needless to say, the windows are also very large, with the principal exposure being south with ample views west of the river.

I can’t tell exactly where the two lofts were combined way-back-when, but it was either at the east wall of the second “bedroom” or the west wall. (The second entrance still sits in the laundry room.) Basically, the Famous Photographer turned one 2,000 sq ft loft  into a living room and kitchen, and a second 2,000 sq ft loft into a master suite with a second not-really-a-second-bedroom-room.

business was good
Per the RealEstalker and the New York Times “Habitats” feature from November 28, 1999, the Famous Photographer has lived and worked in the Glass Farmhouse since the early 1980s, starting as a renter. In the early 1990s he bought first one loft, then the adjoining one, living in one and using the other as his studio. The Times pegged the purchases as 1990 and 1991 (both for $300,000) but Property Shark has them in 1991 and 1993. Not that it matters, but I suspect his memory was faulty when he spoke to the Times, and he got the transition from renting to buying just a little off.

When business got really good, in the late 1990s the Famous Photographer moved his studio elsewhere and in 1999 combined the two lofts for living, apparently not changing much in the way of general layout but significantly upgrading the finishes. The NY Times article noted truly grand plans to renovate in 1999 (adding a 1,000 sq ft bedroom on top of the current units, spending about $1mm), but that never happened.

Property Shark shows a $5mm mortgage on the two units in March 2006, probably long after the renovation. But the lis pendens filed against the lofts by JP Morgan Chase in August 2009 suggests that the Famous Photographer no longer lived on Easy Street by then.

The guy has been trying to sell since March 2007 (a year after cashing $5mm out), starting at $5.8mm. Aside from 4 months off the market at the end of 2008, it has been for sale ever since, also asking $5.6mm, $4.9mm and (most recently) $4.495mm. The contract at $4mm was signed as of June 2, after 35 months of marketing in the prior 38 months.

the nabe was rough
I highly recommend that NY Times article from 1999. The photographer has a way with words, here describing the change from the early 1980s to then (1999):

15 years ago ... the block was distinguished mainly by the six-foot-tall prostitutes who would hang around in full lingerie. Later, he says, the neighborhood got worse, drawing ''14-year-old crack-addicted hookers.''

The current local 14 year old traffic is likely to be headed to the Baryshnikov dance complex next door.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010



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Mar. 10, 2010 - jazz great in great loft

shares a birthday with my mom
While Manhattan Loft Guy is a bit of a jazz fan, I am a huge loft fan, so my interest in the NY Times City Room blog post last night commemorating Ornette Coleman's 80th birthday was focused more on his garment district loft than on his art. (My buddy Andy is chagrined.) I am not going to out Mr. Coleman by giving his address, but I was able to find the old listing from when his loft had been offered for sale a while back.

I was disappointed that the Times blog post did not feature more photos, and the single photo gave me a very different impression of the loft than one gets from looking at the floor plan and the 4 or 5 old listing photos. He's got a full floor loft with a largely open floor plan (one "bedroom", plus the requisite recording studio). You can't tell from the Times photo that the ceilings are 11 feet high, or that the kitchen in which Coleman sits is top notch and minimalist, nor that it is arranged with other plumbing elements into an almost (pre-Jade Jagger) "pod" (without the shiny doors).

being on the market, only in a sense
He was asking in the low $800s/ft for very large 'done' space a year after The Peak in the overall Manhattan real estate market, in a building in which the last sales were at $623/ft at The Peak (for a smaller, buy-it-and-build-it loft), $714/ft for a highly renovated "International Style" loft that sold just short of The Peak, and at $922/ft for a "stunning" higher floor loft with great light that also closed just short of The Peak.

He overlapped on the market with an higher floor neighbor with another full-floor loft, a neighbor who was unsuccessful in selling one of those "published" over-the-top lofts at a price that ended up being 25% under where he was. In other words, Mr. Coleman probably did not really want to sell (he held to his price for the nearly 8 months he was "on" the market). No harm in that, as it is a free country.

musical trivia
One small irony: Mr. Coleman lives in a building the given name for which matches the adopted name of another musical giant (different genre). I wonder if he's a fan of That Guy....

Many more birthdays, Mr. Coleman, many more!


© Sandy Mattingly 2010


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Aug. 19, 2009 - strong pricing hint on lovely loft for sale at 360 West 36 Street

exception to the rule (he's begging me)
Most Manhattan Loft Guy readers understand why I haven't commented on identifiable current listings for the past year and a half. I am going to make an exception for a loft (a) that I really like, and (b) whose listing agent is practically begging me to comment on it. The loft is #10S at 360 West 36 Street; the agent is master blogger / video pioneer Doug Heddings of True Gotham [reminder to DH: you promised to blog more frequently]; the begging is in a comment to my July 29 post, "How about that incredible 2000sf Loft at 360 West 36th Street that will likely trade around $1.25M or so.   That's $625/sf!  Shameless marketing of my own property I know but thought it fit PERFECTLY in this piece." Since Doug's blogging persona (and real life character) is strongly in favor of consumer information and real estate transparency I am confident that he will not mind me talking about his listing here -- though it won't be the same "shameless marketing" as he might do in support of his client the seller.

my opinions, not his
I wholeheartedly agree that this loft is a real opportunity for the right buyer at the price it can sell for ("around $1.25M or so" in Doug's words), though I am somewhat less enthusiastic about some of the adjectives and adverbs he is using to sell it. The good news is that this is a very large loft for the price ("2,008 sq ft", now offered at $1.395mm, down from $1.695mm in January), with terrific light and some views, and a classic loft style. The layout enhances the sense of space, taking advantage of the long run of windows on the south wall (more "light" than "views") and leaving a very large dining area and a "living room" (sitting / media area). The master bedroom on the west looks far out to Jersey (sunsets!).

The overall 'feel' is more funk than sleek, featuring exposed piping and mechanicals, long runs of exposed (ancient) radiators, large steel-frame windows. The kitchen and baths are all modern and well-equipped (the master bath is particularly so). The layout includes a set of closets outside the master bedroom that provide a corridor to the master bath, and an interior room set up as gym and office (with a clever casement window into the living area).

this loft is not for everyone (neighborhood is love-it-or-hate-it)
I brought one buyer to see it and enthusiastically described it to a second. For both, the loft is not bid-worthy at nay price because they don't love the neighborhood. Sitting nearly at Ninth Avenue on a very gritty commercial block, many people are going to be put off by the micro-nabe in which it sits. I can't argue about anyone's personal reaction to the sense of grit, but I definitely encourage anyone who likes that sort of thing to consider this loft. There is definitely some old-school Manhattan loft 'charm' to the grit, and the immediate neighborhood features small theater and arts groups and more food sources than choice restaurants.

The white-box 2003 loft conversion 315 West 36 Street is just down the block (I hit a sale there on June 23), as is some new (mid-scale) hotel, but the street level is dominated by non-residential uses. The 2003 luxe conversion Cass Gilbert at 130 West 30 Street did very well on a block that I find to be much more gritty than this. The Glass Farmhouse at 448 West 37 Street is even more remote than this block (I hit a new listing there way back on December 7, 2007, with some commentary on grit and that neighborhood). And the Cupcake Cafe is around the corner....

As configured, this loft is not set up for a family larger than 3. That gym/office can certainly be converted to an interior sleeping area, but the existing 2d bedroom is rather ... tight. Not only is that 2d bedroom small, but it cannot be enlarged without major surgery (moving the kitchen). In other words, for a big loft the space is not very flexible very inexpensively.

searching for The Market
The #10S seller and very experienced professional agent have been searching for the market value of this loft since January. The current asking price is $1.395mm but the agent has signalled to Manhattan Loft Guy readers (and probably others ;-) that the seller will take at least 10% off that price. At around $625/ft, a sale at that price would be a large discount off the last sale in the building: the "1,250 sq ft" #8NW sold in May 2007 for $1.275mm, after selling in February 2005 at $1.095mm. The 2005 and 2007 sales pair for #8NW is interesting given my recent fixation on 2005 - 2009 pairs (that July 29 post) and because the last "S" unit to sell was #11S, which sold in April 2005 for $1.1mm. (StreetEasy has "no listing associated with this closing" but out system shows that that old Corcoran listing was sold more for its character than finishes ("designer" kitchen, jacuzzi and glass block shower aside; 1980s much??).

The #10S sellers and True Gotham hope that 2005 is not the correct market frame for measuring value here.

COUNTDOWN: 10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 [oops] ... 4 ... 3 ...

[Update 2 PM: sorry about the multiple posts of the same thing today; the platform was a little squirelly and I kept hitting "send" without being able to see that it had posted]

© Sandy Mattingly 2009

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Jun. 23, 2009 - "gotta sell" at 315 West 36 Street, so dropped 40% -- and sold

seven figures of motivation
The Manhattan loft #12C at 315 West 36 Street was marketed with some urgency, some big price drops, and all caps (I have taken that annoying formatting off): "major price drop, must sell immediately!!!". Darned if they didn't do it (not "immediately", but they did it).

long downward trail
They started trying to sell this newly renovated loft ("designed from the ground up in 2008"; "from the ground up" on the 12th floor??) in May 2008 asking $2.65mm for "1,658 sq ft" that "architecturally speaking ... is a masterpiece". You can't say they weren't paying attention, as they dropped $300k right after Labor Day (after the Fall of the House of Lehman), then another $110k 5 weeks later. They changed firms around Thanksgiving, with a new price of $1.98mm.

That didn't work, either, so they pulled out the ALL CAPS and exclamation points when they crossed the $1,000/ft threshold with the March 6 price of $1.595mm and the "must sell immediately!!!" come-on. That ploy worked, though it took until May 13 to find thecontract that closed last week (June 15) at $1.439mm -- 10% off the last asking price and a round 40% off from where they started a year earlier. That is 40% as the crow calculates, but also $1,211,000 off that original ask.

long time getting started
This building was converted to white-box residential lofts in 2003 but this one seems to have been left in its original primitive state until this "ground up" renovation in 2008. (It was originally marketed this time around as "[c]ompleted in 2008 from a raw loft space". When purchased new in that not-quite-raw condition in May 2004, the June 2009 seller paid $895k. On a gross basis, they certainly made some money selling in June at $1.439mm after buying in 2004 at $895k and renovating "from the ground up" (that odd phrase really gets to me). Of course, they paid two rounds of transfer taxes and apparently did not even live there after buying it, so the net-net 'profit' is more limited.

That 2004-buyer-turned-seller was an LLC so I wonder what happened. Perhaps partners ran out of money or could not agree on renovation?? Whatever the reason, they carried this thing empty for five years. That will eat into profits, as well as generate losses. (Tax write-offs??) Probably not their original plan, however.

nice (long) reno, no?
I think they did a nice job (when they finally got around to ... yes ... indulge me ... renovating from the ground up) with a layout with windows only along one wall. The floor plan is pretty conventional (split bedrooms, open living / dining / whatever area in the middle), but the cool thing (for me, YMMV) is the glass (bedroom) walls that go opaque at the touch of a button. I doubt that the opacity-on-command helps sound insulation much, but it must surely look terrific.


© Sandy Mattingly 2009


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Jan. 14, 2008 - new at 347 W 39 / confidence abounds, with terraces

“this will sell quickly”
I didn’t say that.

Scott Hustis and Mark Jovanovic of Corcoran did, about #13N at 347 West 39 Street. They are asking $1.375mm and $1,480/mo for “1,300 sq ft” that has 3 exposures, 2 terraces, but no floor plan (yet?). No pictures show the terraces.

There are only 3 interior pix, 11 foot ceilings, no bragging about the kitchen (unless you count “open … with breakfast bar” as bragging) but 50 feet of atrium-style windows and – did I mention – no floor plan (yet?)? It is set up as a 1 bedroom said to be convertible to a 2 bedroom but it is hard to assess this without a floor plan (maybe there is one coming).

next door had some view issues
I saw #13E when it was offered for sale from mid-2006 through mid -2007. It was said to be “1,400 sq ft”. That unit was also a 1-bedroom-convertible-to-2, with a bath they bragged about, 3 exposures, and 45 feet of windows. After a long time on the market and a few price changes, it closed in October at $1.24mm, $65k above the last asking price.

As I recall, there was an immediate threat to one of the exposures (east?) from a hotel or other tall development right next door. If I am right that the threat came from the east, #13N may also be at risk of shrinking exposures.

confident agents put it on the line
As they say “
Due to the Price and Special Design of this Space, this will sell quickly”, despite being a bit smaller than #13E (“100 sq ft”) and a bit more expensive ($135k) than #13E’s clearing price; perhaps the terraces account for that. The seller will know soon if they are right; it will take us just a little longer to figure it out.

© Sandy Mattingly 2008

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Dec. 6, 2007 - new with view at 448 W 37 / Glass Farmhouse duplex is large 1 Bed Wonder

fascinating space, tantalizing views (until…)
Unit 12G at 448 West 37 Street (The Glass Farmhouse) was new to market yesterday, asking $2.595mm and $1,975/mo (condo) for "2,638 sq ft" (duplexed). The predominant views are east (4 windows on each floor) and south (5 windows on each floor), but there are the advertised "3 exposures" with one west window on each floor.

pioneers wanted
The area around the Farmhouse is still pretty under-served for $1,000/ft pricing. Big upside potential, yes. City-targeted new development to the south and west, yes. (The various Hudson Yards proposals were reviewed, among many other places, in the NY Times on Nov 24, with maps and schematics showing that project as just to the west and 4 blocks south of The Glass Farmhouse.) But it ain't Soho (yet!), as I quarreled with Max Gross of the NY Post 15 months ago (September 14, 2006:
West 30s ready for a close-up (but send Max back to Bible study)).

There will be many fascinating views of construction sites, near and not-very-far from the windows at #12G, but it may be hard to tell for a while what actual "views" will be left over after the next (5 to 10 years??) of construction. Be careful.

views of what?
I have speculated before about what impact on Glass Farmhouse views the Dermot rentals over the Lincoln Tunnel spillways will have (July 3:
losing whose sky in the new west / development over the Lincoln Tunnel a threat to Glass Farmhouse?) so anyone interested should certainly be careful about which sight lines may be lost here.

As I said then:

How much Glass Farmer sky will be impacted by Hudson Mews South will depend on how close that 18 story tower goes to 36th Street and the setbacks, as the Glass Farmhouse extends south only to mid-block.
Some where there are renderings and models that would help answer that question. At the moment I don't know where, but sooner or later….

1 Bed Wonder-ful
At "2,638 sq ft", #12G is one of the larger One Bed Wonders I can recall. (February 24:
what is a 1 bed wonder?)

Without doing too much renovation, one could certainly add a small bedroom where the lower floor "library" is, or a very small bedroom where the upper floor "office" is; otherwise, this is a wonderful space for people sharing one bed in that huge master suite.

"few remaining" true loft building??
I can't say I agree with Gabriella Winter and Alex Nicholas of Corcoran that The Glass Farmhouse is one of the "few remaining buildings that still offers true loft living", but this is true loft living, in a gritty nabe to boot. Twelve foot ceilings, an industrial past, an industrial vibe, steel I-beams and all those windows. Yup, true loft living. Just not one of the "few" buildings in which one can pull off that trick.

© Sandy Mattingly 2007

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Oct. 4, 2007 - 249 W 29 has a motivated broker/owner

I mentioned 249 West 29 Street #4S in an open house review September 21 (open house review / 7 new lofts from 2.2 to 1.5) when it was brand new to market. My comment then was:

$1.895mm and $1,907/mo for "2,300 sq ft"; nearly square but only one wall of windows, one bathroom; the owner-resident-broker has very little to say (curious); my guess is she has lived here a long time since it was renovated

how motivated? $10k per day
The broker/owner is definitely motivated, as she has dropped the price today by $146k, almost $10k for very day it has been on the market.
The nearly square footprint has plumbing in the middle, so there should be a fair amount of flexibility. Can't tell if the interesting flooring is stencil or in-lay, but it is interesting. Ditto the ceilings. (The description "artistic detailing throughout" does not answer the question, either.)

building sales history
The entire 11th floor is in contract ("2,600 sq ft") off an ask of $2.495mm, after having been offered since March, starting at $2.95mm.

I blogged about
#2E on September 18 when it went into contract new contract, much space, untold story at 249 W 29 and when it was new in May (new + flipping at 249 W 29 St). As I noted in that May post, #3N sold in February this year, "1,600 sq ft" for $1.42mm (with a "250sq ft" terrace).

© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Oct. 1, 2007 - the unloftiest loft ever – 28 W 38 is over-the-top

yes, a
Versailles loft
Loft snob that I am, I sometimes carp about whether a given space passes muster as a true Manhattan loft, or is more loft-like or even (gasp) more "apartment" than loft. See August 30, 2006 the Tao of Lofts / essential features for the general rules (according to me) and August 27, 2007American Thread new to market / why so soon? for some carping about a not-loft-in-loft-building ("[p]erhaps this is the loft for uptown people who just want a downtown address").

I have never seen anything like #7E at 28 West 38 Street before.

There is no question that this is a loft building (previous life in industry, high ceilings, huge windows, some exposed mechanicals), or that units here have sold that are true lofts. In layout, this is clearly a classic Long-and-Narrow, with the benefit of having 4 windows on one long side. There's ample space, with a living/dining area of 31 x 15 feet, linked to open space from the kitchen into a den that is over 40 feet long.

But ... but ... but ...
The big room's floor is a combination of name brand marble and stone mosaic (no maple here!). The room's walls are silk-lined. And this room has a chrome (!) ceiling.

The kitchen is a different name-brand marble floor with (I will quote here because I am not sure I can visualize) "Venetian plaster and rubbed vinyl walls", with tin ceilings.

The den has yet another name-brand marble floor, mahogany walls and brass (!) ceiling.

More (different) name-brand marble floor in the master bedroom, more silk on the walls and a "unique" master bath.

The second bath gets the 18 karat gold fixtures.

Just look at the pix on the web, please, and read the description of the many elements I have not mentioned. As Halstead's Anna Shagalov says in her listing headline "
Versailles in NYC". "2,000 sq ft" of the damnedest over-the-top renovation that I have ever seen in a loft.

Asking $2.375mm and $2,121/mo for the kind of space that can only be bought by someone who buys into the entire look. Don't buy this if you are going to change the marble, or the gold fixtures, or the silk on the walls. Not to mention, this block is pretty gritty, pretty commercial, pretty authentically loft-y. I suspect that most people with silk walls, three metal ceilings and four name-brand marble floors have doormen (and porters, and handymen, and livery).

As they say, you can never tell what living spaces look like just by looking at a loft building façade or grungy lobby. Never more true than here. (I wonder if the neighbors know???)

First showings are Wednesday.

© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Sep. 18, 2007 - new contract, much space, untold story at 249 W 29

#2E at 249 West 29 Street has been an intriguing Manhattan loft listing since coming to market in May, but if you've waited to see it you've lost it, as it is now in a committed relationship ("contract signed" as of yesterday).
strong on the space-money continuum
You want space? "2,100 sq ft" and "1,750 sq ft" of outdoor space, low on a price-per-foot basis at $1.695mm asking and $2,235/mo. The listing drops hints that some work may be required to fully realize the value (outdoor space "can be converted" into a garden or entertaining space; loft has "charm and potential"; the "glass wall dramatically separating" the master bedroom from the living room may be more farce or tragedy than drama for some).
The space is your classic Long-and-Narrow (narrow being 23.5 feet) with four windows front and four back and all plumbing on one long wall. The outdoor space is on the second floor, so it may not exactly be bathed in light or have panoramic views.
The area around 29th Street and Eighth Avenue is probably at the top of the preferred neighborhood list for very few people, but for someone who wants a lot of space for the money and some outdoor space, it is intriguing. (For one person, more than intriguing, but irresistible.)
8 million stories in the naked city
I always wonder about the Stuff that Happens to upset/change people's plans when I see a history like this one: the current sellers bought the place in December for $1.45mm (by then it had been on the market over a year, starting at $1.825mm, ending at $1.625mm). Within six months they are (emotionally) out of here, and put it on the market.
Speculation is easy in the complete absence of facts, but it may be a change in job or finances, some tragedy that tears at the fabric of a family, or that they simply hate the space or the neighborhood. No reason they'd be telling, of course, but a six month turn-around from closing to selling is ... curious.
The fact that they hung tough at the asking price ($1.675mm) for four months without a price change is more understandable when you realize what they paid for it six months earlier ($1.425mm). If they got close to ask, they will make some money even after two sets of closing and moving costs, but not a killing. They probably do not recommend the experience to their friends.
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Aug. 23, 2007 - indoors and out at 284 Fifths PH-B / (almost) brand new

but how big is it?
Very cool new listing tonight from Joseph Testone at Bellmarc for those who want real outdoor space. PH-B at 284 Fifth Avenue is a 3 BR + 3 bath with -- so far -- no floor plan or gross square footage, asking $3.25mm (maintenance is $4,278/mo). But we are told that the terrace is 2,200 sq ft. [UPDATE 9.3: now it is a co-exclusive listing with Katherine Gauthier of PruDE, with a different set of pix here.]
Unfortunately, one thing you won't see from this 8th floor terrace at 30th Street and Fifth Avenue is the Empire State Building (unless it is visible straight up), as there is a tall building just to the north. Lots of glass, lots of light, and some proper proper nouns dropped for the kitchen and baths ... looks pretty darn cool. But how big is it??
The building foot print is 5,000 sq ft, but the roof slopes back a bit. Allowing for the 2,200 sq ft setback terrace, the loft space can't be any more than 2,800 sq ft. [UPDATE 9.3: now there's a floor plan up; if the terrace really is 2,200 sq ft, the interior looks to me to be about 2,000]
On doing some digging, it turns out this unit was offered by Testone as "PH-AB" from May to July 1 for $3.595mm. So this is not so new (I must have missed it the first time around). But still (potentially) very cool. With that 2,200 sq ft terrace.
I looked at some studios in this building when it was first being offered through Corcoran (2004??). Corcoran ended up giving up the marketing (so the story went) as the sponsor/developer couldn't make up its mind about selling prices and/or could not get all this paperwork or financing in order. City records suggest someone else stepped in, and that units started closing in 2005.
sponsor taking a final shot?
It may be that the penthouse never sold, and that this sale is a sponsor sale. Building permits suggest that the major renovation of the penthouse was done (begun?) only a year ago.
Hard to get comps for space like this. There is certainly nothing else like it in the building (even without considering the terrace.) And not many spaces anywhere with this large interior space and this large a terrace.
[UPDATE: Open House Sunday Sept 9 12 - 2 PM]
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Jul. 30, 2007 - 372 Fifth little loft / NY Times On The Market

so small but so tall
Sunday’s On The Market feature in the Sunday real estate section of the NY Times included a Manhattan loft that is only “744 sq ft”, #3P at 372 Fifth Avenue. This former mercantile space (Best & Co., at one point) was converted to lofts about 25 years ago, many of which are rather small. But there are high ceilings, original structural elements (terra cotta vaulted ceilings, steel column), and an open layout.
Offered through Mara Flash Blum of Sotheby’s for $729k since early July (maintenance is $787/mo), #3P is one of those unusual small-but-true lofts.
The Pros vs. Cons analysis in the Times seems pretty fair:
PROS: This apartment in the former Best & Company department store has eye-catching details like vaulted terra cotta ceilings and a restored original steel column. The kitchen and bath were recently renovated with sleek finishes, including slate tile and black granite counters.
CONS: The apartment has only one window and has no view.
This building has a peculiar distribution of maintenance obligations, to say the least. #3P is $787/mo for what is said to be “744 sq ft”, while #10H is said to be “800 sq ft” (with a “300 sq ft” terrace) and is offered by Corcoran for $649k (with an offer accepted), with the notation that the asking price reflects the maintenance of $2,511/mo.
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Jul. 16, 2007 - 28 W 38 St broker/owner in contract

top price, terrific loft
Jim Grica at BHS just got a signed contract on his loft at 28 W 38 St, Unit 3W, which had been on the market since April at $1.795mm ($1,943/mo maintenance) for “2,00 sq ft” that Is not only “the ultimate in authentic loft living”, but “sexy [and] beyond triple mint”. (I assume he gets similarly excited for other people’s lofts.)
This Long-and-Narrow has three front and three rear windows and two west windows, and is 23 feet wide. Plumbing runs along the middle wall of the two-units-per-floor building, with neither bathroom being en suite. It does look like very high quality work throughout, and priced accordingly.
#8E (also “2,000 sq ft”) sold in January (can’t find a sold price, but it was last offered for $1.395mm) in a condition with a lot of “potential”. It had been on the market since March 2006 (starting at $1.695mm), and took two firms and four prices to sell.
#2E sold in May (curiously, “1,980 sq ft”) for $1.355mm in a pretty refined condition, but with a layout that was somewhat limiting (one bedroom, one bath, lofted den). That had been offered only since January (at $1.365mm).
location, location, location
Interesting location, kind of betwixt and between. Near lots of things, but of no neighborhood. Gritty commercial block, to say the least.
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Jul. 3, 2007 - losing whose sky in the new west / development over the Lincoln Tunnel a threat to Glass Farmhouse?

maybe not so bad for of the Glass Farmers?
When I posted about the new listing at The Glass Farmhouse, 438 W 37 St, #6F yesterday I was focused on that listing being new. I dropped an aside about possible new development that may impact one of the outstanding features of the south-facing units there – major sky and views running from west to east.
Hudson Mews threatens light, brings park
A friendly Anon-a-mouse brought a fact about the recent sale of a two-story building immediately south of The Glass Farmhouse with significant unused FAR, but that is not what I remembered as the issue. A developer’s name popped into my head overnight as possibly associated with the project I was thinking about and – Google being my friend – I found a NY Observer article from April 29 (Behold, a Mini-City Rises; not the article I was thinking about, but it mentions the development I had read about, Hudson Mews North and South).
That “infrastructure” is the spaghetti of entrance and exit tunnels and ramps to the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority Bus Terminal that dominates the northeast end of the Hudson Yards. One of the key real-estate deals to smooth out the terrain is a pair of mid-rise apartment complexes on either side of 37th Street between Ninth and 10th avenues. Called Hudson Mews North and South, the Dermot Company project will be built on a platform above the Lincoln Tunnel entrance and exit ramps—a challenge that has taken longer than expected to surmount.
“The engineering and technical details of building on that site have been worked out, and we are looking for the most cost-effective way of satisfying the Port Authority and other engineering requirements,” Dermot president William Dickey told The Observer. “This is rather a unique situation. There is no other project like this in the city or in the Port Authority system.”
Mr. Dickey said that when the Port Authority first agreed to give the air rights to the Dermot Company, the two parties had hoped that ground would be broken this summer, with December as the outside date. These days, December is looking more realistic. The cost of the air rights is one part of the negotiations.
A piece from The Real Estate Bloggers a year ago added the detail that the 800 unit development will have two 18-story towers above the approach ramps on Dyer Avenue between 36th and 38th Streets, including 20% as “affordable housing”, 10,000 sq ft of “community space” and 25,000 sq ft of “public open space”.
More up to date (THX Google) is a June 8 letter from Community Board 4 to the City Planning Commission, in which CB4 recommended approval of the project based (mainly) on the open space to be featured.
This project is an important first step toward realizing the “InfrastructurePark” or “NeighborhoodPark” that featured so prominently in the City’s Hudson Yards open space plan, stretching from 34th to 40th Streets.
The addresses for the two rental towers will be 424 W 37 Street and 439 W 37 Street – just across the street (north) of The Glass Farmhouse and due east, separated by at least two lots from The Glass Farmhouse (the 50 foot wide 4 story building at #430 and the 50 foot wide parking lot at #434).
all about the angles, and setbacks
How much Glass Farmer sky will be impacted by Hudson Mews South will depend on how close that 18 story tower goes to 36th Street and the setbacks, as the Glass Farmhouse extends south only to mid-block.
Some where there are renderings and models that would help answer that question. At the moment I don’t know where, but sooner or later….
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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Jul. 2, 2007 - people who live in Glass Farmhouse 6F is new

Unit 6F at 448 W 37 Street is so new this morning that Anthony Gentile at PruDE does not have a floor plan or any interior photos up yet. He says “over 1,200 sq ft”, though our building data shows this unit at 1,340 sq ft. The asking price is $1.149mm, with $1,106/mo in taxes and common charges.
This is one of those ‘true loft’ buildings that carries a significant neighborhood discount due to its location overlooking the Lincoln Tunnel from the far west side.
Lincoln Tunnel taketh and giveth
That location also provides the singular charm of amazing views and light to the south and east, over the various tunnel spillways.
true loft
I don’t know the history of the building, but it clearly has an industrial pre-residential past. With high ceilings (12 ft in #6F) and the large windows that frame that big sky, it is classic loft space. My guess is that the windows bring in so much terrific light, that the original post-industrial users (photographers, designers) did not need very large spaces to get very good light. Hence, many units are relatively small for classic lofts – 1,000 to 1,50 sq ft.
The listing refers to a 24 –hour doorman, which would be a change from the part-time status of the recent past. (Guessing – again – that there were enough people running businesses with deliveries out of this building that the condo owners at some early point opted for a daytime doorman.)
Chelsea Kitchen???
I am not sure how to react to Gentile’s clever location locution. He calls this area Chelsea Kitchen, though it is well north of what people have recently considered to be Chelsea proper, and well within the area commonly referred to as Hell’s Kitchen. Too clever by half, or just clever enough?? Not sure….
Gary Kahn of Corcoran has been marketing #11F since April, “1,543 sq ft” and 14 foot ceilings for $1.375mm and $1,528/mo (down from the original price of $1.4mm). While waiting for the #6F photos, check out the Corcoran pix from the 11th floor. The Unit 11F floor plan exemplifies the difficulties with most units in this building that are not on corners: the beautiful windows are along only one wall and provide so much light that it is a shame to close any windows off with a bedroom. The result is the interior bedroom plus guest sleeping loft used in #9F, or some similar solution. (BTW, the #11F listing says “part-time” doorman, so either the change is very recent, or PruDE’s #6F listing is wrong.)
Spoiler alert: I have seen (but can’t find a link now) news reports about a rental tower to be built somewhere over those tunnel spillways. If the planed building is, in fact, built, it will take away some slices of some sky for some residents at the Glass Farmhouse.
If you go, ask!
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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May. 18, 2007 - what would Cass Gilbert think / 130 W 30 St challenges

great building! the block … not so much
There are few great loft buildings in Manhattan that separate the Prefer-Loft people from the Love-Lofts people the way The Cass Gilbert does, at 130 West 30th Street. Indeed, this building even separates the Merely-Love-Lofts people from the Love-Lofts-And-Authentic-Grit people, as only the latter should find their way through the Lincoln Tunnel exiting traffic and past the police station next door to #130.
Nothing pretty about this block. And not much that is pretty about any nearby blocks, either. (see digression, at bottom)
Yet there is a beautiful loft there, new to the market this week– that may be worth – to the right buyer -- the $1,300/ft they are asking for it.
#17A at 130 W 30 St is newly offered by Susan Sears of Corcoran. It is 2,300 sq ft and is offered for $2.995mm (and an even $3,000/mo). In a world in which downtown lofts with more than 2,000 sq ft on less ... gritty streets can be had under $3 million, Susan’s challenge will be in getting $3 million buyers to this block. Once there and up the elevator, there is a lot to like.
the plus factor is out the window
I will assume for this discussion that the finishes are as advertised – and worthy of this price range. What makes this unit stand out from others in the building, however, is the 17th floor views, including the Empire State Building. Many units in the building are well appointed, but their big windows look at nearby buildings. It appears as though the 17th floor is high enough to provide the sense of space that is the kind of “extra” a $3 million buyer could need on this block.
By way of contrast, see #7B offered by Tamir Shemish of PruDE. It is nearly the same size (2,150 sq ft) and “no expense [has been] spared” in tricking it out, but it is offered at only $1.95mm (and $2,411/mo). Granted, this layout does not have as many windows as #17A, but the north windows on the 7th floor are looking across the street – not four blocks to the Empire State Building. (Open House in #7B on Sunday from 2 – 4)
helpful comp next door, facing south
Height matters. #17B sold in August 2005 for $2.35mm – nearly $1,100/ft for its 1,987 sq ft. (These south views might actually be preferred by many to the Empire State Building views in #17A.) It is likely to be at least two full years between the closing of #17B in August 2005 and the completed sale of #17A -- $1,300/ft is within a reasonable range as an asking price for #17A, IMO.
Final curio about marketing The Cass Gilbert: the listing descriptions for both #7B and #17B make lemonade out of the police station next door, by describing the locations as “the safest block in the city”. Well, I guess …. Nice try , for sure.
Open House in #17A on Sunday from 12 – 3
            I thought about the Cass Gilbert this morning – before seeing the listing for #17A -- when reading a NYT review of Of Mice And Men. (really) The review begins:
This is the 70th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s novella “Of Mice and Men,” and the play he adapted from it, also in 1937, is being honored in a tiny theater on a West Side street where drunks and derelicts roam.
That “tiny theater” is Urban Stages, at 259 W 30th St – one block closer to the Lincoln Tunnel than the Cass Gilbert, and the block that has a fire station to the Cass Gilbert’s police station. Can’t get much authentically grittier for a $3mm loft buyer than “where drunks and derelicts roam”. Bet those drunks and derelicts are safe, though.
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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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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