even a Chelsea Mercantile loft will struggle if over-priced

loft sellers can’t simply name their price, no matter a Chelsea loft icon

In a world of bad (bad, bad!) news for buyers of Manhattan residential real estate, lofts and otherwise, there’s only a limited amount of cold comfort to be taken from the fact that not every Manhattan loft sells quickly and/or above ask. (You know the bad news, exemplified by this July 1 New York Times article about the Second Quarter market reports, Home Prices in Manhattan Hit New High.) But this history reflecting a virtual marketing Odyssey of the “1,263 sq ft” Manhattan loft #17F at 252 Seventh Avenue (Chelsea Mercantile, aka The Merc) should be worth a few degrees of summer cooling:

Sept 26, 2014   new to market $3.1mm
Feb 17, 2015 $2.975mm
Mar 17 change firms $2.995mm
April 8 $2.825mm
April 27 contract
June 12 sold $2,775,500

Ignoring the 12 days off the market between firms (as is my wont), I count 223 Days on The Market for my Master List of downtown Manhattan loft sales. Needless to say, that’s a great many days on this market (though there are no snowy listing photos for this one, the market campaign having started in the Fall instead of the winter), from start to contract. And four asking prices, one of which zigged rather than zagged.

the hyper-local view premium has its limits

Long-time readers of Manhattan Loft Guy are aware of my obsession about interest in the premium in this building for lofts close to the top of the building that have horizon views, compared to low floor lofts that look across Seventh Avenue, West 24th Street, or West 25th Street, or any lofts that look into the building courtyard. (Most recently in my February 19, open eastern view is worth $425,000 at Chelsea Mercantile (approx) (at least), but most comprehensively in my January 20, 2012, privileged Chelsea Mercantile loft clears near $1,700/ft at 252 Seventh Avenue.)

This table sets the … er … table for the prose that follows, as I realized in writing that prose without a simple table (you’ll see what I mean):

#16L sold Dec 18 open east view “1,601 sq ft” $2,077/ft
#4U sold Jan 20 east ‘city views’ “1,652 sq ft” $1,775/ft
#17F sold June 12 open north views “1,263 sq ft” $2,198/ft
#12L sold June 26 east, city views “953 sq ft” $1,695/ft


Loft #17F is one with “full north exposures from every room with unobstructed views”, a feature that is babbled as being shared only by “a dozen lofts” here. Asking $2,454/ft to start (through a very experienced agent in this building), loft #17F sold for (only!) $2,198/ft, compared to $1,775/ft for the (low floor) “1,652 sq ft” loft #4U in January with no (real) view, compared to $2,077/ft for the (high floor!) “1,601 sq ft” loft #16L in December with an open eastern view, as I discussed in that February 19 post, and (breaking news alert!) compared to $1,695/ft  for the tiny (“953 sq ft”) #12L, with “open city [east] views” and a very disadvantageous floor plan, that sold just two weeks after #17F.

Yes, Virginia, there is a significant view premium for top floor horizon views in this iconic condo, but it was something less than 1% for this north view compared to the east view of loft #16L six months ago. And it is most assuredly not the 18% premium to #16L that was sought at the same time that #16L was being offered.

Bummer, dude.

the charm of The Merc does not lie in its floor plans, Miles

The #17F floor plan is nothing to write home about (or, to base a blog post on):

could be from any postwar residential building, anywhere in Manhattan

Given that the space is “1,263 sq ft”, the rooms are each fairly large. But the array is uninteresting, with no logical place to put a dining table except where it is:

the kitchen is immediately to your left on entry, and you must squeeze past the table to reach the main space

In other words, there’s nothing loft-y about the footprint, though with 11 foot ceilings and “massive” windows, there is much more volume in real life than in any mere postwar apartment.

Obviously, the selling point to this unit is what is outside those massive windows. But there are only six of them, all on the single exposure, with the living room lacking the wall-to-wall window experience that would open up this space. (Nothing to be done about that; you have to support the building.) Still, that open view is what makes this a premium unit on a dollar-per-foot basis, compared to lesser (or no) views in the building, a building in which even a crappy floor plan like that of #12L can sell for $1,695/ft.

long, narrow, single exposure that is not a wall of windows + no bedroom … yes, the very model of a crappy floor plan (yet: $1,695/ft)

Having the best amenities package nearby will do that for you. Especially when the condo has (originally) 352 units to share the expense for those amenities, and especially when it was created in a much different property tax environment, such that both taxes and common charges are relatively low ($1.67/ft in the case of #17F). The combo … that’s how you make an icon.

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