would you pay $675/ft for this loft at 36 West 22 Street?

no one else would
StreetEasy is sparse on the details of the listing history of the Manhattan loft on the 2nd floor at 36 West 22 Street, but the essential facts are simple: “1,508 sq ft” with “many original details such as soaring tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, huge windows, rustic wood floors”. Billed as “truly a great steal” at $1.15mm, it sold on May 18 (to a felon?) for $995,000. That’s $660/ft just off Fifth Avenue.

I am surprised to notice that $660/ft is only the tenth least expensive loft sold this year (on a dollar-per-foot basis, obvs), out of about 230 loft sales in 2011 that have square footage on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008. However many bottom-fishing sales there have benn, that is still a very low price for a prime loft neighborhood. (Note to self: recap those ‘cheap’ lofts … some day.)

a private history lesson
Our data-base has a different (more detailed) listing history than StreetEasy for the 2nd floor at 36 West 22 Street:

Nov 15, 2010 new to market $1.2mm
Jan 25, 2011   $1.15mm
April 1 contract  

The listing agent is not a member of REBNY, so I don’t know why we have a (slightly) more detailed history than StreetEasy, but such is life. The StreetEasy record does not have a floor plan behind the “Floorplan” icon, but there is a floor plan with the prior listing for this loft on StreetEasy (here). Consistent with the theme that this is a rather primitive loft, that floor plan shows a classic Long-and-Narrow with 2 bedrooms at one end, but the plumbing is all the way on the far narrow wall. Not only is this an awkward distance between bedrooms and (single) bath, but the only 3 windows on that wall are either in the (open) kitchen or in the (closed, d’oh!) bath.

I don’t imagine too many buyers in 2011 would leave only the only 2 open windows in a kitchen, instead of in a living room. Unless there are no plumbing stacks elsewhere, I don’t imagine too many buyers in 2011 would not move the plumbing away from the back wall, raising the floor in places if necessary to do so. (On further review, the 3rd photo confirms that the long wall near the kitchen has side windows, and that rough floor plan shows 3; I still don’t think the kitchen will get all the open windows after the buyer rips out and builds out.)

deficits! we got deficits!
The loft reads like a total gut job, preserving only the “many original details such as soaring tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, huge windows, rustic wood floors”. There’s no bragging about light, which is not surprising for a second floor loft in the middle of the block (even if the windows are “huge”). We have no record of any other sales in this 5-unit coop, so the due diligence for this purchase must have been interesting. Indeed, Property Shark shows a December 2005 building permit to make this building a legal residence (“to obtain a co for conversion of manufacturing bldg to residential use according to the requirements of the nyc loft board”). Judging from the photos for the 2nd floor listing, that floor (at least) has seen residential use for many years before 2005. Interesting due diligence, indeed!

If the buyer put $200/ft in (my bottom ball park number for a loft build-out), the buyer would end up with a brand new “1,508 sq ft” loft for $1.3mm. Still a reasonable total investment for prime Flatiron. Assuming the coop is (a) legit and (b) well run, of course.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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