27 Howard Street sells above ask with (probably) the best low-floor view in Soho?

all because of Crosby Street
Having looked this week at a one floor difference in height that did not matter (much) in Flatiron (September 27, height makes a small difference as Altair 20 lofts sell at 15 West 20 Street), a two floor difference that mattered a great deal in Tribeca (September 25, height matters for 51 Walker Street lofts, even 2 floors). and a 6-floor difference that had a huge impact on Tribeca (September 24, for 69 Murray Street loft, The Peak was then, and almost now), and even last week at a 5th floor loft that underperformed against a 3rd floor loft  in Tribeca (September 21, flip city: 99 Reade Street loft sold in 2011 sells again, up 4%), today I may bring Manhattan Loft Guy Height Week to a close with a second floor loft that sold at a very strong price because of a terrific view. (Not a feature common to second floor lofts.) In fact (as you know from the headline), the “2,000 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 2nd floor at 27 Howard Street sold above ask; and (here’s the news) at $1,324/ft for a space that, though described in glowing babble, really needs a lot of work. The reason is simple geography: 27 Howard Street sits at the foot of Crosby Street, so this loft has an unobstructed view up Crosby Street, essentially to the horizon.

the condition may surprise you
As I said,, the space needs a lot of work. But you would never know that from the terse broker babble (“STUNNER …12 Foot ORIGINAL TIN CEILINGS, massive Windows with View up Crosby. Other high lights include an open chefs kitchen, central air, a spectacular master bedroom w/ bath ensuite, laundry, (2 gorgeous baths in total)”). Nor would you know that from interior photos, as there aren’t any. When was the last time that you saw a listing for a stunning loft with chef’s this and spectacular that that did not include interior photos??

I was hoping that the photos would jog my memory from when I saw this loft with buyers in the very short time it was available this Spring (to market: May 16; in contract, June 15), but, alas, I can’t be certain of the details on the interior. I do remember that our conversation on the street afterwards was about whether they liked the bathrooms, because it appeared as though the rest of the space would be renovated. (Maybe the kitchen was a keeper?? Or just the appliances???)

Perhaps it was the residents (tenants, I really, really hope), but the place showed very poorly. That front bedroom was a cluttered mess, and that back “sleep area” was more like a closet. The master bedroom was “fine”, except for challenge of splitting it in two, with problem of the bath on one side and the fireplace on the other; to create a (smaller) master plus second bedroom across that 22 ft rear wall should be simple, but for the choice to leave the fireplace in the second bedroom or close off the “master” bath from the second bedroom and make that poor sleeper walk 50 feet to the front bathroom. Finally, I recall that the floors needed finishing and the ceiling updating.

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln … the classicly Long-and-Narrow space was in move-in condition. (Not.) I went back to check our listing system, which shows that the listing agent input the description for circulation among REBNY firms checking the box “Good” for (overall) Condition, as opposed to the “Excellent” that you typically see for “stunning” lofts.

beats the heck out of a very nearby recent sale, and beats another a block away
27 Howard Street shares a lobby, but not the elevator (!) with 29 Howard, so I assume they are a single coop. I hit a fully renovated loft there that sold early this year for (only) $1,383/ft in my March 19, a question of views for gut renovated 29 Howard Street loft at $1,383/ft. I say “only” because that had the advantages of an elevator, a better (higher floor) view, and that full renovation, yet it sold for $1,383/ft compared to the 2nd floor next door at $1,324/ft.

You can pick out any loft sale you like from the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008  to look for other interesting comparisons to the 2nd loor at 27 Howard Street at $1,324/ft. Personally, I think the much larger (“3,008 sq ft”) Manhattan loft #10A at 129 Lafayette Street is pretty interesting, even if not (yet) blogged about here. That sold for $1,300/ft in very mint-y condition, with “brilliant light and breathtaking open views”, in a full-service condo.

Yes, there is a location value difference for being in Soho, as 27 Howard is, compared to being at the edge of Soho, as 129 Lafayette is, but I would caution you from going too far with that approach. First, remember the major differences in quality of the spaces, including the views and light. Second, look at the map: if it takes you more than one minute to walk from 129 Lafayette to 27 Howard (after you cross Lafayette), you are one of those people who clog the streets of Soho when I am trying to get to or from my office at Broadway and Broome.

from that short street to Memory Lane…
I talked about Howard Street in that post, referencing yet another earlier Manhattan Loft Guy opus from that block, Martin Scorcese, and a grafiitti artist:

Howard Street is one of the littler streets in Soho, with few reasons for foot or auto traffic. You can only get to this building in a cab by going up Centre Street or down Lafayette; any farther west and you can get back here. And there is little reason to do that, unless you live here or have business on that bottom block of Crosby, such as at the Hotel Mondrian.


I hit a nearby loft in my November 11, 2010, nice flipping loft at 49 Howard Street, in which I talked about that quiet stretch of street:

There is a sense that this building was in a foggy region (the fog that on old maps indicated the limits of the known world) between prime Soho, Chinatown and the moat that is Canal Street. Howard Street runs only four blocks, west from Centre Street to Mercer, and there is very little car traffic other than cars with business in the bottom block of Crosby, who need Howard Street to get anywhere. Not much pedestrian traffic, either. Martin Scorcese, who knows a thing or two about Manhattan street life, used this stretch of Howard Street in his 1985 film, After Hours. (If you click on the trailer, pay particular attention to the street view in the scene with the Mr. Softee truck.) I.e., d-e-s-o-l-a-t-e.


Here is what a graffiti artist Ellen Harvey had to say about this particular building in 2000, from the Howard Street side, in a book about her street art adventures written in 2005 (New York Beautification Project):


For some reason, this building in SoHo has avoided gentrification. It is completely covered with graffiti and full of garment workers. It’s a bit like going back in time.


Harvey talks about having to avoid the garment business owner on Howard Street. Her Beautification Project #9 was on this building; when she returned to photograph it the next morning, it had already been substantially covered by still more recent graffiti. She took her photos anyway (see the book excerpt).

With that, Height Week comes to a conclusion.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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