new 44-story hotel in Chelsea to crimp some loft views

that’s what (sometimes) (eventually) happens if your sightline goes over a Manhattan parking lot [updated]

Another day, another new hotel announced …. The Real Deal had the news yesterday that a parking lot at 144 West 28 Street that sold two years ago for $42.8 million will become a 40-story hotel, with 528 rooms and a restaurant and bar on the ground floor. That means that open sky like this, from an 8th floor loft one block directly south, will no longer be quite as open:

most of the buildings in the block directly north of these windows were lower than this 8th floor loft; soon, no longer (Halstead pic, obvs)

The photo is from the “2,400 sq ft” loft #8F at 144 West 27 Street, which sold way back in 2013 for $3mm. There’s probably not enough of a loss of view to (much) impact value, but I hope the 2013 buyers didn’t simply assume that the view would remain as open as it was when they bought it.

[Update later that very same day … I should have used the Google maps photo from The Real Deal article to also illustrate the line of sight:

pretty sure that is 144 West 27 Street at the rear, right in the middle of this photo; the tall beige building with 3 windows across]

It’s a small Manhattan Loft Guy world sometimes …. It turns out that I mentioned the loft right below the one above (#7F) in my March 2, 2011, since that $458/ft loft sale at 144 West 27 Street …, and another loft a few floors below (#4F) in my September 10, 2012, price discovery was long + hard for 144 West 27 Street loft with 2 kitchens, 3 dishwashers. It’s good to be back!

it pays to be diligent

I’ve often hit the issue of looking at what you’re looking at outside windows. (How long might that nice open view remain open?)

Perhaps my favorite such post was my October 9, 2011, diligence due + negligence committed as West 15 Street lofts + East 15 Street apartments lose views. That post links to six (count ’em!) Manhattan Loft Guy posts going as far back as 2006 about how ‘open views’ are often at risk in Manhattan. To quote myself quoting myself:

Part of the charm of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere), for me and I suspect for many people, is that they may be ‘developing’ neighborhoods, with a certain vitality missing from more staid (mature) residential areas and (often, at least early) a discount from the overall market because the ‘developing’ neighborhood may be a little more gritty than mature residential areas.

Part of the risk of living in loft neighborhoods (in Manhattan and elsewhere) that are ‘developing’ neighborhoods is that they … uhhh … will continue to develop.

That post is also a favorite because it pivoted off of a New York Times article about a fairly large coop that was asleep to the potential development behind them that turned out to impact almost 200 shareholders and then an effort (once awake) by these shareholders to pressure the city to reduce the size of a public school. From my perspective, NIMBY-ism at its worst.

More recently, my August 6, 2015, did rising tide eventually sell huge 141 West 26 Street loft (with rising hotel)?, featured a second floor loft with a long wall of north windows over a parking lot. The selling agents didn’t have (give) a lot of information about the development potential of that lot when I visited with buyers, but we found out a great deal about a hotel that would fill the entire lot by clicking around various city agency sites.

In short, there would be a one-story structure in the southwest corner of the new hotel and a ground floor “rear yard” across the remaining two-thirds of the hotel width, with the flue for kitchen exhaust somewhere near the middle of the hotel width, probably opposite some of the windows of the second floor loft at 141 West 26 Street.

My clients passed on that buying opportunity, but someone eventually bought the huge loft (“4,050 sq ft”) that required a total renovation for $938/ft; it took nearly a year for the original asking price to attract a buyer (there’s another story there about an asking price being wrong, wrong, wrong, until [one fine day] right; but that’s another story).

(Ironically, the to-be-built hotel behind 141 West 26 Street is directly next to the lofts mentioned up top at 144 West 27 Street, whose open views are now threatened by a to-be-built hotel to the north of that address. It is a very small Manhattan Loft Guy world sometimes, but this issue is not limited to the West 20s between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.)

what’s a buyer to do?

You’ll find ideas in the two posts above about public sources for information about potential development outside the window you may be interested in buying, but here’s a spoiler alert: the local Community Board and your city Council Member are your friends.

In the case of the 141 West 26th Street loft my buyers were interested in, the publicly available information was both relatively easy for even a real estate agent to find and easy to interpret by me and my clients. Things aren’t always so straightforward, of course, and I’ve gotten quotes over the years in the one to two thousand dollar range to retain an architect or expediter to check development rights outside windows.

Just last week, however, I got an email from a title company (a source I hadn’t before considered as useful to this issue) identifying a (new to them, I think) “sightline” service (“[w]e analyze FAR calculations and numerous other factors to determine unused development rights so buyers can understand the potential for change in the properties adjacent to their purchase”) that sounds awfully helpful. For as little as $500 (I think, but I can’t find it now), they generate a report that includes 3D schematics.

Maybe others have offered this sort of product before and I’ve simply been unaware, but this sounds like a very good idea. (Assuming it is truly comprehensive, and as reasonably priced as I recall.)

It’s not rocket science, but it does involve Latin: caveat emptor!

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