16 Greene Street loft sells as endangered species (with a scarcity premium?)

(not that there’s any protection for them)
It is nice that the Manhattan loft #2N floor of 16 Greene Street came with a warning label as an “authentic SoHo artists loft, a real throwback to the 70s”: “COULD BE THE LAST OF ITS KIND”. Nice, not because it is the last of its kind, but because this is a reminder that the species is endangered. This is obvious, right? Every “authentic SoHo artists loft” that sells is sold to be transformed into something other than an “authentic SoHo artists loft”. What has been used for (40??) years as working artist space is marketed as “oozing with potential for the person who wants to take on a project that could end up being something of a marvel”.

potential marvel
As they say, the “space needs everything”. But you start with great bones: 14 foot ceilings, windows that are 10 feet high, no columns or other structural supports in the Long-and-Narrow footprint. That footprint is described as “[a]pproximately 2000 Sq Ft (24 x 85 )” but one floor plan is more specific (and smaller): 23’ 1” x 83’ 9” (i.e., 1,933 sq ft). On the one hand, you are invited to add central air conditioning. On the other hand, don’t count on the freight elevator being upgraded any time soon.

marvelous price, funny history
There is a lot of ‘noise’ in this price history, with one possible error; a lot of noise:

June 4, 2010 new to market $2.1mm
June 23   $1.9mm
Sept 9   $1.825mm
Sept 11   $1.95mm
Sept 30   $1.9mm
Jan 24, 2011 contract  
April 8 sold $1.8mm

A two day price just seems like a mistake that did not get caught right away; the other price moves are odd, but not quite as odd as that reversed-drop at $1.825mm. Basically, they were asking $1.9mm for all but six weeks of the total of 45 weeks it took to get a contract. In other words, they were right about the asking price, but hardly confident.

How marvelous is that clearing price of $1.8mm for a ‘needs everything’ loft? Given that the last loft sale in the building was just about at The Peak (contract in July 2008, closing October 24) and was in “mint” condition with central air and had “excellent” light and was at $2.1mm (#5N), I would say that #2N at $1.8mm ($900/ft) is a very marvelous price. #5N is said to be a bit larger, at “2,070 sq ft” (not in any logical world, but in the wacky world of Manhattan lofts …), but the spread between Peak+’done’ #5N at $1,014/ft and the now+needs-everything #2N at $900/ft is … (not to put too fine a point on it) … ridiculously low. (At least) one of those sales was at an irrational price.

Unless there is an increasing premium for those oh-so-rare-authentic-Soho lofts, from 2008 to 2011. Not bloody likely, so maybe #5N left a lot of money on the table (it was a full price contract in 25 days) back in the day.

other ‘projects’ nearby
The Manhattan loft 66 Crosby St #2CD was not raw but was a definite ‘project’ that closed March 21 at $868/ft, having been billed as in “excellent” condition but as a former photography studio. (I hit that one in an April 15 post.)

Look again at the (small) gap between a huge project at 284 Lafayette Street (at $719/ft) and a finished product in the same building, a dichotomy I hit in my May 5 post.

Then there is a very similar loft to #2N at 16 Greene Street: the Manhattan loft 140 Grand St #3WF sold as “2,000 sq ft” of old artist’s loft needing a complete re-do (“you could build something truly extraordinary!”), sold for $938/ft on February 3. I hit that one in a March 1 post.

All in all, $900/ft is a lot of money for a complete gut job, even if authentic and artist, unless it really is the last of its kind. Which we won’t know is not true, until we see the next one come to market.

but there’s supposed to be some protection, isn’t there?
I snarked up top about a lack of protection for a Manhattan endangered species, but that’s not really true. There is a very specific form of protection of sorts to artist lofts in Soho … the Artist in Residence rules. At the risk of offering specific Sean-bait, the #2N sale at 16 Greene Street ‘proved’ that the A.I.R. rules did not — in this instance — prevent a long-time Soho working artist from cashing out at what looks to be a market-level sale price. That February 3 sale of #3WF at 140 Grand Street ‘proved’ the same thing about that long-time artist seller’s ability to cash out.

To repeat myself (again, and again): these sales cannot be positively probative of being A.I.R.-neutral ‘market’ sales because there is not control group to match against, and these sales do not establish that other Soho loft sellers subject to A.I.R. rules did not get lower sales prices because of A.I.R. (or, were not able to sell at all). (See my March 7, it is impossible to prove that the Soho artist in residence regulations are a resale problem unless ‘victims’ come forward, and other related posts, many linked there, to see how I am repeating myself, and baiting one frequent and valued commenter.)

In any regulatory environment, #2N at $900/ft is a healthy sale. Indeed, a marvelous sale.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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