Campiello Collection penthouse loft at 151 West 17 Street eventually sells 54% above 2005

eventually can be a long time
You’ve seen the stats: something like the average American moves every 6 years. The guy who bought the “2,876 sq ft” Manhattan loft #PHE at 151 West 17 Street (the Campiello Collection), with another “1,121 sq ft” of private terraces, in January 2005 at $2.8mm exceeded that average very reluctantly when he recently sold for $4.3mm. On the positive side of his ledger, that’s a gain of 54%. On the other side, he tried to sell for 3 months in 2006, 5 months in 2007, 12 months in 2008, 5 months in 2009, and 6 months in 2010. In other words (numbers), in the first 66 months that he owned this beauty, the owner was actively marketing it for 31 fairly separated months, asking as much as $5.995mm and as ‘little’ as $4mm. In the 8th year, it all came together, fairly quickly (especially in context): to market on March 1 at $4.45mm, in contract by June 19, and closed at that $4.3mm on September 5. Piece of cake 😉

By the way, I am not going to roll out the whole listing history in table form, as I often do; there’s just too much history, even for me. But if you’d like the details, listing firm bu listing firm, price change by price change, click on that StreetEasy link in the second sentence and knock yourself out….

the shrubs have grown
StreetEasy does not have the marketing material from when the recent seller was a January 2005 buyer. You’d think from the fact that he paid that $2.8mm in January 2005 then offered it at $5.5mm in August 2006, that there was some significant improvement in condition in those 20 months. (I did.) You’d be wrong. (I was.)

We have the spare listing description (too spare to be helpful), plus the floor plan and 10 listing photos from 2006 in our data-base. It is possible that there are some subtle upgrades that are very, very valuable, but I can’t see any in comparing the two floor plans or the two sets of photos. The photos look the same, Then v. Now, in the places you’d expect to spend real money if there were significant upgrades: kitchen, master bath, fireplace, elevator vestibule. Even the planters on the terrace match, though the shrubs are taller and thicker.

mis-pricing in a variety of markets (all strong)
With that background, it is hardly surprising that the 20 months between the purchase at $2.8mm and the offering at $5.5mm was not met by The Market with enthusiasm. (Even froth has its limits.) And lest you think that the guy got a steal when he bought at $2.8mm, this history from our listings data-base tells me that was a sale at the market:

July 9, 2004 new to market $2.85mm
July 27 offer accepted  
Oct 8 back on market  
Nov 29 offer accepted  
Dec 10 contract  
Jan 27, 2005 sold $2.8mm

Of course, the froth-with-limits that had, in fact, begun by August 2006. But this seller was just too high in 2006. And 2007. And 2008. Even in the nuclear winter of 2009, when it was offered as low as $4.49mm.

But here’s what’s weird, and somewhat capricious of The Market: after having sat out the latter part of 2009, the seller came back at what looks as though it should have been the right price range:January 7, 2010, new to market at $4mm; but off the market July 1 without a sale.

Given that I know it was worth $4.3mm in 2012, I would have agreed with the seller that it should have sold at or near the $4mm asking price two years earlier. I doubt that there was a glut of Chelsea penthouses available then. I wonder if The Market was punishing Penthouse E for having been so wrong for so long in prior years. The entire listing history makes sense to me, except for those 6 months in 2010.

Doesn’t seem fair. But The Market can be like a coop board: doesn’t have to have a reason, and it certainly won’t tell you even if it does.

can we kvetch?
I don’t love duplex floor plans, in general. I understand that they can provide terrific separation between the public and private spaces in a loft, but they tend to lack the sense of space (‘volume’) that great simplex lofts have, plus they feature the inefficiency of the internal stairway. I especially don’t like this duplex floor plan: two stacked U-shaped boxes that work better on the lower (public) level than on the bedroom floor. Note that the space is nearly 2,700 sq ft and works only as a 2-bedroom. If you put a 3rd bedroom on the lower level you will ruin the living room (the only space with real volume in the loft); put it on the upper level, and you’d not only cut the master in half, but force the master bath into a hallway.

And look at the zigs and zags on the upper level. You can’t put the hallway leading to the dressing room to use, as the elevator and fire stair entrance are there. Around the corner, there is a wide hallway just as you enter the master suite from the stairs; perhaps it works in real life as a nicely proportioned transitional space, but I doubt it; more likely, it plays just as it looks, like a wasted space.

To continue the rant until it peters out … do you see how far it is from the kitchen to the “living / dining room”? And do you see how (relatively) little closet space there is, especially on the upper level?

The high quality finishes and those two wonderful terraces add considerable value, but that floor plan is a lot to make up for.

can we kvell?
The terraces bracket the living room, with walls of glass that bring light (and the outdoors) in. Both are substantial without being too big (‘too big’ under The Miller’s rubrics, I mean). These are very valuable terraces, with high utility and direct access without going through any private spaces. Figuring out how valuable is much easier in retrospect, of course, so let’s riff….

There happens to be a very recent, very relevant comp, as the “2,284 sq ft” loft #11G sold on August 14 at $2.895mm, or $1,268/ft. That happens to have a very efficient floor plan (3 real bedrooms and a 54 foot living / dining area), but is the best we are likely to do in finding an interior-value comp for Penthouse E (it would be hard to imagine a comp that is better in the sense that it wastes as much space as the penthouse). So let’s use that $1,268/ft without remorse, to ballpark the Interior v. Exterior space calculation for the penthouse.

Applying that standard to the “2,876 sq ft” interior of the penthouse allocates about $3.56mm of the $4.3mm purchase price to the interior and (only) $650,000 to the two terraces (“1,121 sq ft”, in total). That is $580/ft for the exterior, or 45% of the value of the interior on an adjusted dollar per foot basis. On the one hand, that seems reasonable, as it is near the top of The Miller’s normal range for outdoor space valuation, consistent with the scale and utility of these two terraces.

But I do have remorse about valuing all the Penthouse E interior space at the level of #11G’s very efficient floor plan. Not that it matters to anyone, but I would guess that the terraces account for more like one fifth of the total value of Penthouse E, as opposed to the 15% represented by the $580/ft calculation. That would ballpark the terraces as worth $767/ft and interior at (only) $1,196/ft. Given that the Penthouse E floor plan is so inefficient and the terraces so useful and to scale, bumping the value of the outdoor space to a well-above-average 64% of the interior on a dollar per foot basis makes me feel better.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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