saddest Chelsea Mercantile “penthouse” loft sells under $1,900/ft

nothing personal, but a great Chelsea loft condo should have great penthouses

There is nothing wrong with the “2,002 sq ft” Manhattan loft #PHS at 252 Seventh Avenue that a name change wouldn’t fix. Not a name change of the condo, as the Chelsea Mercantile is the icon that put the Up into this micr-nabe as an up-and-coming loft neighborjood back in the day, but a name change of the condo unit to something like  “#19S”. As it is, calling this thing “Penthouse S” just leads to seriously unmet expectations of greatness. After all, The Merc is famous for its high floor views and a “penthouse” promises something extra.

If this loft were named “#19S”, one would more easily appreciate its charms: 10 ft ceilings, “enormous” windows, space at a scale that easily accommodates 3 bedrooms and an “extra” room, all in a high amenity condo with relatively low monthlies. As “#19S” it would be easy to appreciate (I almost said “easy to view” there) the skylights and terrace (“43′ terrace ideal for entertaining or serene and peaceful indoor/outdoor living”) as bonus items. But billed as a penthouse, one reasonably expects open views, especially from a terrace ideal for entertaining, etc.

The hint of dismay and disappointment comes with that first listing photo, which is what you’d see on entry. There seems to be a pastoral mural painted just outside the windows of the great room that, on closer inspection, is revealed as the wall that delineates the width of the terrace, festooned with (fake?) greenery to cover the masonry that must be underneath. That greenery is topped by the wall of the adjoining building to the north, making this terrace more like a canyon than some second floor terraces I have seen. That 6th listing photo reveals the limited charms of that terrace: barely wide enough for the chairs at the dining table to be pushed back comfortably, with the windows of at least two floors of the adjoining building looking directly down at the terrace, and a sliver of open sky to the west.

Putting aside the (major) limitation that the windows of the great room and of the two secondary bedrooms all face that wall of (fake) greenery a bare ten feet away, the floor plan reveals that there is basically that one north exposure, with the bonus ‘study’ facing the open sky west. (The 4th photo shows that the sellers used that ‘study’ as the bedroom in the master suite, which otherwise lacks a window.) The floor plan reveals other limitations oddities, principally the bedroom dimensions. In a loft of “2,002 sq ft”, the third bedroom is well short of the 8 foot width required of a legal bedroom, at a quoted 6’8″; the master suite has that odd arrangement, and is less than ten feet wide. (The master bath is the only spacious element of the master suite.)

the runt of the litter, for sure

The “2,201 sq ft” loft #PHK is not a real penthouse either (no outdoor space), but it sold in January as a deluxe property: $5mm, or $2,272/ft. Granted, that boasted a complete renovation and open city views (including a peak at the river), but that’s a huge price per foot premium over #PHS (ballpark the terrace as worth only 25% of the interior to get an adjusted $1,784/ft for #PHS). Other recent high floor sales at The Merc include even higher values: the efficient 2-bedroom-2-bath “1,327 sq ft” loft #18C sold for $2,336/ft on October 10, helped considerably by wonderful finishes and views to the Statue of Liberty (#17C got only $2,106/ft on September 18, likely discounted for being sold with a tenant in place); #17D got $2,233/ft on September 9, again helped by views that included the Empire State Building north and Statue of Liberty south. (I hit that “C” pair of sales in my November 4, 2013, why not? Chelsea Mercantile loft with forever views sells for $2,336/ft.)

You have to go back a year to find a ‘true’ penthouse sale in the building (one with outdoor space). The duplexed “2,270 sq ft” Manhattan loft #PHQ sold for $4.5mm on March 7, 2013. That one had a wrap terrace of small but undetermined size, so it is hard to put its apples against the apples of #PHS. Looking at unadjusted values, this year-old duplex loft sale at $1,982/ft beat #PHS at $1,878/ft rather handily. There’s not much to see in the “open western views” of #PHQ (no mention of the river, for example, and no iconic buildings), but that still beat the ‘view’ of a nearby wall of fake greenery in #PHS. By a lot. With good reason.

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  1. […] sad sack of a “penthouse” loft at The Chelsea Mercantile that I trashed in my March 21, saddest Chelsea Mercantile “penthouse” loft sells under $1,900/ft. Like “#PHS” at 252 Seventh Avenue, #PHB at The Renwick has a single exposure, but the […]

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