4 terraces = 1 bidding war for penthouse loft at 144 West 18 Street

+10% = sweet
There are some very impressive numbers associated with the Manhattan loft #PH-W at 144 West 18 Street (the Chainworks Building, hardly a romantic locution, but apt given its prior usage), starting with the clearing price of $4.119mm on August 15, which exceeded the asking price of $3.75mm by a rounded 10% and is indicative of a pretty strong bidding war. It took 6 weeks to get to contract (May 10 to June 20 contract), which is kind of a long time for a hot-property-war, but you can’t argue with the result.

More impressive: the loft sold in the original development on September 12, 2003 for $2.15mm, so the recent sellers did not quite double their money in 8 tumultuous years of the Manhattan residential real estate market.

The duplex loft is said to be “1,996 sq ft” with another “1,240 sq ft” outdoors, in four terraces, one facing north and one south on each level. You don’t see too many lofts with four terraces, even mega-lofts that are 5,000 sq ft. Nit-pickers, being picky, would quibble over the floor plan: only one of the terraces is accessible from the public space in the loft; and the space works only as the 2-bedroom in the current layout, unless you ruined it by shoehorning a bedroom into the living space. Nearly 2,000 sq ft but only 2 bedrooms … it is what it is, so let’s not quibble too much.

beating a twin like a drum
As I said, “you don’t see too many lofts with four terraces”, but there is one next door. Not surprisingly, #PH-E is a nearly identical twin of #PH-W: a duplex with “2,005 sq ft” interior and the same double N+S terraces. You can’t see it on StreetEasy, but our data-base shows that those terraces were said to be “1,236 sq ft” and that the floor plans to the two penthouses are extremely similar (also a 2-bedroom-only-unless-you-want-to-ruin-it configuration). I could argue that the east layout is a little nicer than the west, but that would just be more quibbling.

This might be the most impressive number about the sale two weeks ago of #PH-W: #PH-E was last for sale leading into The Peak, closing on December 19, 2007 (just weeks before the top quarter in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market) at $3.6mm.

Let’s do that again: the west penthouse just sold at a premium of 14% to the near-peak sale of the east penthouse. That’s most impressive.

One more number …. While #PH-W sold in the original offering at $2.15mm in September 2003, the sponsor did not unload #PH-E until April 7, 2004, for $2,548,679. Perhaps the sponsor got smarter after selling #PH-W, and perhaps the market improved in the 7 months between penthouse sales. But that is quite a spread between original prices for these two twins, especially considering that #PH-W just kicked #PH-E’s butt in the resale market.

other building comps fail
There have not been enough resales in this 18-unit condo to try to determine what the terraces are worth, unfortunately. The last resales were in mid-2009, which are difficult sales to work with because of the nuclear winter. In any event, the penthouses are not directly like the lower floor lofts, as the penthouses were added to the top of the old 6-story building in the conversion (along with the 7th floor).

One has to wonder if the March 10 asking price of $3.75mm for #PH-W was viewed by the sellers as a stretch price, in view of the near-peak sale next door at only $3.6mm. I bet that the potential buyers had that comp in mind when bidding started on #PH-W, but somebody proved willing to exceed that comp by a wide margin.


© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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