if you want a spellbinding loft at 889 Broadway, it will cost ya

might you fall onto Broadway?
Is there another true (old school) Manhattan loft building (other than 889 Broadway, the Gorham Manufacturing Building), with essentially floor-to-ceiling windows? If so, it does not come to my mind. The marketing lede for the “2,500 sq ft” loft #5A at 889 Broadway (“spellbinding”) was probably meant for the renovated interior but it applies even more so the the windows, and what is through them. With 11 foot ceilings, the windows that start with frames at floor level and rise to within about a foot of the ceiling are huge. So large, and so low, that I am probably not the only one who would be skittish about getting ‘too’ close.

Even at the 5th floor, this perch over the northwest corner of 19th Street at Broadway gets terrific light and classic views down Broadway toward Union Square. Angled Broadway and that corner window (one of 19[!] in the loft) really help. The loft sold for $3.3mm on March 2.

meanwhile, back on the inside…
There’s a lovely renovation in the interior, with beautiful finishes in the kitchen and baths that are modern without being severe, dual entrances to the master suite that are pivoting panels of frosted glass, a “cedar paneled study” (/ 3rd bedroom) that extends the cedar paneling to the window (check out pic #11), and a (truly) massive master suite with a (truly) “extraordinary” dressing room (pic #13). The babble says “original columns” (plural), but I only see the bright red one in the kitchen, unless that bright red thing in the dressing room is the front half of a column. (Is a 3rd column hidden in the master bath?)

The really interesting thing about this renovation is that it was done at least 10 years ago, probably more. StreetEasy does not have the old listings, but when the recent sellers bought the loft on March 8, 2002 (for $1,473,775), the floor plan was identical to the current one and the photos match except as to colors (the kitchen column was then brown or black). The 2001 broker babble tracks the current babble, and our internal notes contain this comment by the then-listing agent “truly the finest renovation I have ever seen”. But that’s not all….

The loft also changed hands in 1999 (at $910,000), 1997 (at $805,000), and 1993 (at $650,000). I can’t be certain of the condition on each of those sales, as our data base may have a description that forward-corrected, instead of the actual description from those dark days long ago. That description is certainly consistent with the 2001-02 pictures, and the current set:

One of the finest corner lofts on Broadway ever to be offered. Located in the land-marked "Gorham Building", this Queen Anne style building was constructed in 1883, and has a distinctive architectural style. The renovation features the finest quality in craftmanship.

Note also that the prices from 1993 to 1997 to 1999 are certainly consistent with market appreciation of a loft sold in the same condition each time. Whether the jump from 1999 to 2002 is due to a major new renovation is hard to say, just on the prices alone. Even in those days, it should have cost something like $100/ft to create this beautiful loft, so maybe the most likely scenario is that the loft was renovated for (say) $250,000 between 1999 and 2002. Still, from the pix and the prose, the loft has held up remarkably well from 2002 (or before). Nothing ‘dated’ that jumps out at me.

what happened downstairs?
As luck would have it, the last loft in the building to change hands was #3A, with the same footprint, which sold tolerably recently, on June 28, 2011 at $2.95mm. That loft should have traded a little below #5A, as the windows don’t go down to the floor on the 3rd floor, but the bulk of the $305,000 spread between #3A and #5A had to have been due to condition instead of window height or floor rank. The scale is evident once you see how very very nice loft #3A was:

mint condition … with 10’8 high ceilings, herringbone hardwood floors and 14 large sunny south & east windows. … huge open loft space has a projection TV with surround sound stereo, a large dining room and a brand new kitchen with top of the line appliances- three Sub-Zeros (refrigerator, freezer, and wine cooler), Bosch dishwasher, Marvel Kegorator, Wolf cooktop and Wolf double oven. The spacious master bedroom and large walk in closet has a luxurious master bath with dual sinks, a tub to soak in and separate shower. … Other features include central a/c, a washer/dryer, custom closets, and a storage area in the basement.

Indeed, the pictures of loft #3A entirely support that enthusiastic babble. Yet #5A earned a 10% premium over #3A. And I do mean earned. Spellbinding will do that to you!

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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