buying (+ overpaying) next door at 121 West 19 Street loft (Lion's Head, revisited)

talk about e-x-t-o-r-t-i-o-n!
Let’s say you wanted to sell your Manhattan loft for $1.3mm but The Market offered no takers when you offered it publicly from February into July 2010. So you take it off the market, tail between your legs. Then your next door neighbor asks if maybe just maybe you’d still be willing to sell, so that she can expand her loft by annexing your territory. Sure, you say, at the right price. Which turns out to be $1.5mm.

That is what happened to the seller of the Manhattan loft #4F at 121 West 19 Street loft (the Lion’s Head) and her neighbor in #4E on January 19.

Yes, we have been in the Lion’s Head recently, and often, with a January 28 postscript, Lion’s Head loft foreclosure sale postscript: an unusual 4-letter word for b-u-y-e-r?, to a January 22,
Lion’s Head penthouse loft closes out of foreclosure (121 West 19 Street) with a 7-figure bank hit. And I think we’ll be back here again, soon. But in the meantime, this sequence is too tasty to overlook, given my interest in situations in which a loft seller exacts a heavy price to sell to a neighbor who might otherwise have to move to get larger space (as in my December 2, a tale of 2 neighbors tale at 150 West 26 Street, with 1 hard bargain, November 9, another neighbor extorted, as Queer Eye tires of “Soho”, leaves 505 Greenwich Street loft for Chelsea, and November 1, no listing, but VERY motivated buyer for O’Neill loft at 655 Sixth Avenue greases a move to Tribeca).

In each of those cases, the selling neighbor had not previously offered the coveted loft for sale, but seems to have been persuaded to do the deal by an above-market offer. In this case, of course, the seller had been publicly willing to sell last year at $1.3mm, but was able to leverage her neighbor’s need into a sale at $1.5mm, a 13% premium over the unsuccessful price, and a 19% premium over the average price-per-foot for similar 1-bedroom lofts in the building in 2010.

Is there any real estate more unique than the loft next door, for someone bursting out of their loft?

large 1 BR + large 1 BR = large Long-and-Narrow
There are large 1-bedroom lofts at the Lion’s Head. #4F can only be used as a 1-bedroom, despite being “1,364 sq ft”, as the only windows on the floor plan are at the far end of the 18 foot bedroom and 33 foot living room, and there are no nooks in which to stick even a home office. I can’t find a floor plan for #4E that is publicly available, but our data-base has it as “1,527 sq ft” with a 9×9 foot den in addition to the living room and single bedroom (essentially the same as the “1,529 sq ft” floor plan of #6E). The only windows, again, are at the far end of those two rooms, but the footprint of #4E is a little wider (nearly 32 feet) than in #4F (about 28 feet). These two units line up front-to-back, so the combination will be about 2,900 sq ft, Long-and-Narrow with windows at both ends and plumbing in the middle.

Some smart architect will figure out which kitchen will survive, and how to break through to get a sense of the new length of the space. (The proposed floor plan for a #7EF combination that was offered for sale in 2009, but not sold, is here.) With 16 foot ceilings, there will be a great deal of volume, even if the length might be hard to appreciate, being squeezed in the middle by plumbing on both sides.

The buyer paid $751/ft when she bought #4E in May 2006, so can average down the #4F purchase from $1,099/ft. (Net for 2,900 sq ft is $2,691,353, or $928/ft.)

small unit values here are … smaller
But that $1,099/ft for #4F stands out like sore thumb in comparison to the small 1-bedroom lofts that closed in 2010: 

June 22 #7F “1,317 sq ft” $916/ft
June 22 #5C “1,069 sq ft” $934/ft
Mar 3 #10D “1,134 sq ft” $922/ft

In fact, with this history, you’d think that #4F would have found another buyer when it was offered publicly from February into July 2010 at $953/ft. Instead, the unique buyer next door overpaid. Stuff happens.

timing, timing, timing
Of course, this #4F seller had also tried to sell running into The Peak, but was too high even for that frothy time, asking $1.85mm and $1.72mm from May 2007 into March 2008. (That history is not on StreetEasy, but is in the inter-firm data-base.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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