huge renovation premium for (awkward?) 251 West 19 Street that last sold in 2010


market didn’t mind dropping more ceiling

The math on the recently resold “1,630 sq ft” Manhattan loft #1D at 251 West 19 Street is pretty impressive: sold on February 27 at $1.76mm after a renovation by the folks who paid $830,000 for the loft as a bring-your-architect special on March 29, 2010. That’s 35 months and a premium of 112% ($930,000) for that renovation. Nicely played, sir and madam; nicely played.


The bare bones listing from 2010 bragged about a ceilings of 16 ½ feet, a brick wall, and a then-current configuration of “two split lofts” accessed by a pair of stairs, one near the entry, the other near the windows. The new configuration has essentially the same structure but instead of two stairs to two lofts, there is a single stair near the entry and a “balcony” connecting the “bedroom” and the “study” near the windows; the open area in the middle is about the same (limited) size as before, but the former (odd) high-ceilinged space above the foyer is now a walk-in closet on the expanded mezzanine level. In other words, the structural changes from 2010 to 2013 are relatively modest.


The broker babble about the “extensive” is relatively restrained, though the market reaction was hardly restrained. Yes, there was “no detail overlooked”, but the kitchen is described as merely “modern, sleek white with all the amenities, storage and washer/dryer you could hope for” and the bathrooms as just “sleek and modern with high end materials and fixtures”. (There had been 1.5 baths, the recent listing says 2.5, but the floor plan shows only 2 full, no half bath.) Among the details not overlooked are a “split air AC system…. and built in state of the art sound system”. Not much bragging, right?


But let’s review: $830,000 on March 29, 2010, $176mm on February 27, 2013.


The post-renovation space is a bit larger (“1,725 sq ft” now claimed, compared to the “1,630 sq ft” that was probably in the original condo offering), due to the new balcony and walk-in closet. It is hard to say if there was additional construction beyond the new balcony and walk-in closet, but it appears not. The demolition may have been limited to removing the front stair and blowing out the old kitchen and 1.5 baths. If they spent $300/ft on the new space, that would be a renovation budget of (only) $517,500.


Again, let’s review: $830,000 on March 29, 2010, $1.76mm on February 27, 2013. If I have ballparked the renovation budget reasonably, they added $417,500 in value above their cost. (Throw more to the renovation, the ‘extra’ value is reduced but still considerable.)


Again, nicely played, sir and madam; nicely played.


do you like those ceilings?

I can’t quibble with The Market reaction to the as-renovated (don’t make me repeat the math, again), but I have to say I don’t love the mezzanine space and am surprised that The Market did. Somewhere in prehistory the loft had 16+ foot ceilings with a Long-and-Narrow footprint that was 17 feet wide but not the entire length of about 62 feet. There being only 2 very tall windows at one end and a single small side window is a major limiting factor.


The old floor plan was fairly ridiculous, with two silos. The new one is an improvement, but that front “study” still cuts those huge windows in half, leaving but one silo in the middle. Without that front study mezzanine, this loft would be a larger version of the rectangle lofts with a single exposure at 130 Barrow Street (discussed in a post about a lovely version of this layout, my October 22, 2012, renowned designer created ‘masterpiece’ loft for himself at 130 Barrow Street, parts with it for money).


As a narrow rectangle loft with a single exposure, loft #1D does not lend itself to a mezzanine that retains ‘volume’ in the way that worked very well in the loft I hit in my March 4, when beautiful things happen to high ceilings / 720 Greenwich Street loft sells big after mezzanine re-do. That ground floor loft with high ceilings was a long rectangle with a long wall of tall windows, so taking up the far wall with a mezzanine did not destroy the boost of space provided by windows. That footprint was probably a little smaller than loft #1D (around 900 sq ft) so is an interesting match to loft #1D as it got $1.7mm after a renovation. (Of course, #1D got $1.76mm.)


Obviously, the fully built-out mezzanine (from “bedroom” to balcony to study) adds a great deal of utility to loft #1D. It doesn’t matter if a loft snob like Manhattan Loft Guy approves. One more time: $830,000 on March 29, 2010, $1.76mm on February 27, 2013.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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