did a famous guy set $/ft loft purchase record at Jensen Lewis building at 161 West 15 Street in Chelsea?

is this Chelsea loft fit for a master of the universe type?

The name matches, down to the middle initial and the out of state notice address on the deed record, but the “1,700 sq ft” Manhattan loft #5J at 161 West 15 Street (Jensen-Lewis Building) just doesn’t seem to me the (stereotypical) sort of loft for a scion of a publishing fortune who was, himself, head of a major investment bank. (The curious can do their own darn googling, but mine yielded this, among many other sources.) The corner loft does have “wonderful features”, as babbled, including 12 foot vaulted ceilings, “great light” (though not many windows), “custom built-ins and designer lighting”, and a “big open cook’s kitchen”. The largely open floor plan is, as they are won’t to say, “perfect for entertaining”. The coop is claimed to be the “best Chelsea prewar loft building”, but note what is missing from this short list of amenities and building features: “low maintenances, great financials, live In super ,full time porter and is in centrally located at the gateway to NYC”. (Hint: it starts with “door” and ends with “man”, or “person”.)

If the buyer is the same guy with that name that I googled, he can easily afford a 15 Central Park West type of abode, with a long list of amenities that might include a humidor or pet spa or shared wine cellar and would certainly include staff too many to count. If That Guy, I’d be shocked (nay, impressed), though I’d assume this loft would be a pied-à-terre for someone with a Vero Beach address and all those dollars. But if The Guy is not That Guy ….

not a terrific loft footprint within which to set a building record

Look again at the floor plan: any “great light” in the loft is evident in the main listing photo, encompassing the living room wall of windows. There’s one other window along that wall in the home office, but the other few (two) windows might let in some light, but the one in the office looks at brick (listing pic #3), while the one in the bedroom (listing pic #4) is bleached out. The shape is an irregular rectangle, with the useful windows taking up about half the length of one long wall. The listing photos do a great job of lighting areas in the loft that lack natural light: the kitchen and den included. This is a “1,700 sq ft” One Bed Wonder not because someone was profligate with space and light, but because there are not many options for having a second bedroom. (Shrink the present bedroom and expand the office??)

Remember: there are “wonderful features” in this loft, but the broker babble is still rather muted. In full:

This brilliant corner loft in the best Chelsea prewar loft building has wonderful features. It offers 12’ vaulted ceilings, huge windows and great light in a pin drop quiet atmosphere. Currently configured as a 2 bedroom 2 bath, it can also easily work as a 3 bedroom. The large open living room is perfect for entertaining, and has a big open cooks kitchen with georgeous marble counters, a Viking range and a perfect breakfast bar,. The loft also has a separate laundry room, great storage, custom built ins and designer lighting. The Jenson Lewis building is considered to be one of the best run loft buildings on one of Chelsea’s best blocks. The coop also has low maintenances, great financials, live In super ,full time porter and is in centrally located at the gateway to NYC.

There are precious few proper proper names mentioned, or proper proper materials. Some Viking, some marble, and that’s it. There are custom built-ins, designer lighting, and that “perfect” breakfast bar. I am going to guess that the (dramatic?) step-up bedroom with the rounded entrance (in pic #1 and especially in pic #3) is stepped up to keep that (raised)master bath on the same floor level as the bedroom; otherwise it is an aesthetic element lost on me.

With all this damning-with-faint-praise, go back to the headline: this loft sold for more on a dollar per foot basis than any loft in the building, ever.

Sharp-eyed readers of Manhattan Loft Guy who stay one step ahead of me know that the next link will be to my November 15, it’s the exposures, Mars; why stunning loft at 161 West 15 Street sold under $1,200/ft, which was a bit of a head-shaker about a nearby loft in  better condition than #5J seems to be that sold for only $1,163/ft. This one went for $1,353/ft, despite having only little a little more light to go along with a less luxurious renovation. I hinted at the end of that post that this one was newly in contract:

Yes, folks, there is a reason The Market is unwilling to pay premium prices for even a “stunning” renovation of an “authentic” loft. Expect that situation to continue, at least until this contract shoecloses drops.

The shoe has dropped. The old record set by a beautiful-but-layout-challenged loft has been eclipsed by a lovely-(without-being-beautiful)-and-yet-light-challenged loft, and it is not even close. The smaller (“1,200 sq ft”) loft #5E sold for $1,1632/ft n October; the larger (but still “1,700 sq ft” 1-bedroom) loft #5J just sold for $1,353/ft. I hope it is obvious that I don’t understand that spread.

Not to be mean to people with essentially unlimited financial resources, but I have to wonder if the buyer was That Guy and he just didn’t care. Sellers were asking $2.5mm and he paid (only) $2.3mm. Win, win.

If the buyer is not That Guy, then that buyer (whoever he is) overpaid. Based on a long set of building comps that show that this building is typically discounted by The Market. Except in this case.

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