Heywood loft sale (263 Ninth Avenue) is candidate for strangest sale of the year

not a winner, yet, except in The Market
Having just done end-of-year posts of personal and reader favorites from the Manhattan Loft Guy 2010 archive, I suppose it is natural for me to react to an odd listing history by wondering if it might be the most odd deal of the year … but since that is not a category I systematically tracked through the year that ‘award’ would be hard to award.

Which is a long way of introducing the December 10 sale of the Manhattan loft #4C at 263 Ninth Avenue (The Heywood) for $2.45mm. The listing history is odd because this loft had been on the market continuously since December 2008, had its only real price drop in February 2009, yet generated a contract as of September 2, 2010 at a 4% premium to the asking price.

Let me try that another way: after having been on the market at (essentially) the same price for 19 months, it appears that two bidders appeared at the same time to goose the price up above the asking price.

Let me try that yet another way: the sellers persisted in the belief that the loft was worth (more or less) $2.35mm despite all market evidence to the contrary from February 2009 into at last the summer of 2010, and they turned out to be right (at least as of September 2010).

That is strange. Very strange. And a likely disappointment to the 3 or 4 people who think of the Manhattan residential real estate market as efficient, or even rational.

what a lovely loft!
#4C is said to be “2,124 sq ft” and with the exception of “custom designed built-ins” seems to be in exactly the condition in which it was sold by the new development sponsor in February 2006: 3 bedrooms, 3 marble baths, 12.5 foot ceilings, 15 8-foot windows, and “amazing light” from the north and east exposures.

The layout is nearly ideal for the 3-bedroom array.  Not all new development lofts have these proportions. Even with only one exposure in the main living / dining / kitchen areas, that’s nearly 800 sq ft of volume under those high ceilings. Imagine the floor plan if you did not need the third bedroom: those two walls easily come down, leaving one column exposed and a main room that is nearly square, with 2 more of those 8-foot windows. As is, the smallest bedroom is 189 sq ft; the master bath is 18 feet long and has a (communal?) shower that is bigger than the “deep soaking tub”.

I ma not surprised that it was “featured in Elle Magazine”, just disappointed that in this day and age the agents who include this nugget in the babble don’t include a hyperlink.

an island development
To say that this micro-nabe was a challenging location in which to plop a luxury condominium development in 2006 is a bit of an understatement … and that is coming from a (loft) guy who loves urban ‘grit’. That’s PS 33 (Chelsea Prep) out the north-facing windows, a 3-story elementary school on a huge lot that should guarantee forever light and views due north. From the east windows, the huge moderate income, ILGWU-financed Penn South coop complex is across Ninth Avenue, with ten 20+ story residential buildings scattered from 23rd Street to 28th Street all the way to Eighth Avenue, including the justly-lauded soup kitchen of the Church of the Holy Apostles at 28th Street. You see in the master bedroom photo in #4C that these tall angled residential buildings permit a lot of light and huge slivers of view to the Heywood (pic #2 of 5).

Penn South owns the commercial strip on Ninth Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets, which is matched by a similar run of similar retail on the west side of that block of Ninth. Behind the Heywood to the west there are four buildings owned by the city Housing Authority, with no retail presence on either 25th or 26th Streets going back to Tenth Avenue.

Net, net … the Heywood is likely to be the sole high-end condo development up, down or around here for quite a while.

The last three paragraphs notwithstanding, note the comparison between the recent #4C sale at the Heywood and the September sale of similarly sized but 2-bedroom + 2 bath #11A at 252 Seventh Avenue, the renowned Chelsea Mercantile. The micro-nabe around The Merc has improved dramatically in the ten years since The Merc was converted (in large part, in my opinion, because The Merc was such a successful development). And the transportation and retail options from 24th and 7th Avenue are far more varied (and numerous, and higher-end) than at 26th and 9th Avenue.

Yet #11A at “2,066 sq ft” sold for only $2.275mm, or $1,108/ft, compared to #4C at $2.45mm and $1,153/ft. Granted, some units in The Merc can feel a little dated after ten years, and were not originally built with the level of finishes of The Heywood 6-7 years later; but I am surprised that The Heywood compares as well to The Merc, at least as far as these two sales go.

Did I mention that the Manhattan residential real estate market is not efficient, or even rational?

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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