107 West 25 Street loft sells at $956/ft as old Flower District morphs into Chelsea

changing of the guard
Two things jumped out at me about the sale of the Manhattan loft #6D at 107 West 25 Street at $1.1mm on October 17: the first is how the geographic descriptions in the broker babble omit the history of The Incredibly Shrinking Flower District around the corner (while talking about Madison Square Park, the Chelsea Gallery District, and the Garment District); the second is how much turnover there has been recently in this relatively small coop (“one of the first Garment District conversions to residential use in the early 1980s”), with 9 lofts sold since June 2009 in a 24-unit building (and 3 more for sale).

that (starter) loft
As noted in the #6D listing description, this building was one of the relatively early coop conversions in the neighborhood. Unlike some nearby, the lofts here are generally small, in the 1,000 to 1,400 sq ft range. (Unlike, for example, the full floor lofts of “2,500 sq ft” across the street at 110 West 25 Street.) The people I knew in this building back in the day had only one child, or none.

The “1,150 sq ft” #6D floor plan is typical, with a small and windowed ‘office’ with murphy bed that might have been a child’s room back in the day. (Why did they go to the trouble of angling the master bedroom wall, I wonder.) The feel is more efficient than spacious.

There is no claim of “recent”, but the loft has been “thoughtfully renovated with great attention to detail”. Some may be more impressed by the original tin ceilings, some by custom cove moldings, some by a marble bath, and others by the custom maple millwork in the master. My envy meter goes to 11 whenever I see a Garland range (this one is “professional”, 6-burner, with an outside vent). How old does the track lighting in the living room look to you? 20 years??

turning over
I mentioned that there have been a lot of sales in the building in the last few years, in comparison to its size. Of 24 units, so far 3 have sold in 2011, 5 sold in 2010, and one sold going back to June 2009. On a price per foot basis, they have ranged from the chilly #5B at $812/ft ($975,000 for “1,200 sq ft” on June 25, 2009) to the “stunning” #4C at $1,019/ft ($1.325mm for “1,300 sq ft” on April 25, 1001). (The building record, by the way, was set the prior time that stunning #4C sold, for $1,115/ft at an above-ask $1.445mm leaning into The Peak on October 19, 2007.)

With 3 more on sale, the building could have 50% new-since-2009 shareholders soon.

Sometimes a generational shift like that leads to tension between newcomers and long-time residents over things like building improvements (and maintenance costs), but this building already has a common roof deck, a bike room and storage, so there may not be much to argue about (for those inclined to do such things). Maybe there will be a push for an updated lobby??

They will at least need new leadership, as the recent #6D seller was the coop board president.

a fave
For a small building, 107 West 25 Street has gotten a lot of Manhattan Loft Guy attention. A few months ago I hit that sale of #4C, which took 12 months to get a small discount (June 22, why did 107 West 25 Street loft take so long to sell?); I hit the distressed sale of #6C in my July 17, 2010, how odd is this loft sale at 107 West 25 Street?; and in that #6C post I noted that there was a lot of turnover, even then, with the over four also having been given Manhattan Loft Guy attention:

I hit #3E on May 25 [, 2010], modesty pays as 107 West 25 street sells quickly, up a fraction since 2004. I hit #5D and #2C on March 7[, 2010], 107 West 25 Street closes in six figures, tough comp for neighbors, and I hit #5B in my July 15, 2009 post, 107 West 25 Street buyer discerns deal 15% off list, sits in lap of luxury, so that is 6 of 24 lofts that have sold in the last year.

My earliest blog post about a loft sale at 107 West 25 Street was my January 10, 2008, 107 W 25 goes over ask / back story to NY Times item, in which I talked about how a new neighboring rental tower eliminated a lot of the views from 107 West 25 Street lofts:

trading views for towers = ‘progress’

But that is how this micro-nabe is changing. The gaggle of 30+ story towers from 23rd Street to 29th Street brings more services, more restaurants, more people. Values increase. That’s life in the big city.

fun fact from 1991
Unless our data-base has missed an intervening transaction, the #6D seller at $1.1mm bought the loft in July 1991 … for $175,000.

sewing down memory lane, with rose petals
Not ‘news’: when I moved to a loft in this area in 1993 the immediate neighborhood was very different. None of the tall rentals were yet up along the 6th Avenue corner; there were the same sort of 4- and 5-story buildings as still face the avenue on only a few blocks above 23rd Street; the bully Ghoul-iani had not yet thinned the ‘adult’ businesses; there were many more flea-related spots; there were hints of a past connection to 7th Avenue; and the dominant element was still a thriving wholesale flower industry.

It surprises me to see a babbling reference to the Garment District but not the Flower District about this block. Yes, there is (still!) a sewing machine repair shop on the block (I remember a different one, but this one is across the street; my guess is that if you see one, there used to be 5). The StreetEasy building description notes that this building used to be house the Krisiloff Bros. Sewing Machine Co. so it is likely that garmento-related businesses stretched at least this far east, possibly even before the wholesale flower district … errr .. flowered. (“At one time there were more than 100 flower distributors in the Chelsea district, said Mr. Page, but since the industry peaked in the 1960s, the number has dwindled to about 24 wholesalers and a few peripheral retailers”, per the New York Observer 3 years ago; Manhattan Users Guide says the flower biz has been here since the 1890s; the New York Times ran a nice overview in April 2004.)

You have to cross 26th Street to find the nearest flower hold-out, but the flower shops used to line both sides of the Avenue above 25th Street in my memory.

Times change. D’oh. Sigh.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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