penthouse loft at 17 Greene Street sells at ridiculous (adjusted) value after chopping, chopping

maybe this will be penthouse week
Even without considering the size difference, can there be any pair of penthouse lofts in prime Manhattan loft neighborhoods more different [oops! omitted those two words in the original] than yesterday’s please-gut-me 14 Jay Street #8 penthouse and the 6th floor of 17 Greene Street? There are not that many loft listings that cause me to drool, but looking at the pix of the stripped-but-not-prettified columns — especially those nestled into the drop ceiling over the kitchen and dining area — put my keyboard at risk.

More drooling below, but here is another difference: yesterday’s major renovation project took 4 months to sell at the ask; today’s took a really long time and some vertiginous drops to clear. Yes, any loft can be over-priced, if only you price it high enough. Mission Accomplished, with this history (the early stuff is here):

Feb 27, 2010 new to market $5.475mm
May 4   $4.995mm
July 13 hiatus  
Oct 12   $4.395mm
June 13, 2011 contract  
Aug 12 sold $3.925mm

That’s an efficient campaign only in the sense that it took only two price drops in an active history of 13 months to get the job done, and if you are a fan of big jumps. These are big jumps: $480,000 price drop, $600,000 price drop, $470,000 negotiated discount. This is vertiginous: clearing price was $1,550,000 below the original ask, a 28% spread.

putting on the bib
Let’s go back to the pix and the finishes of this magnificent (though over optimistic) loft:

Oversized windows, S/E/W exposures, original loft floors, Sapele West African Mahogany millwork throughout and elegant Corinthian columns are just a few of the exquisite features of this voluminous, beautifully re-imagined home. The chef’s kitchen is ideal for cooking while entertaining featuring French limestone, marble countertops, Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer, Viking stove and Sub Zero wine refrigerator. Adjacent to the kitchen is a separate 132 bottle wine refrigerator room and an oversized pantry with a W/D. The Master Bedroom suite features open Western views and a walk in closet replete with custom Mahogany cabinetry. The sky lit master bathroom offers double sinks and an oversized rain shower with floor-to-ceiling marble. Other amenities include a private keyed-elevator entrance, central air, WBFP, Crestron audio visual system, and private storage room.

Maybe part of the market reaction to this loft was because the loft does not look in real life as lovely as it looks in the pix and as it sounds in the babble. Maybe. But I would not assume that. Really, you may have your own One True Indicator of a high quality renovation, but to me it comes down to those columns nestled into the drop ceiling. That implies an overall attention to detail and aesthetics that (assuming it is consistent through the loft) makes this a special loft in a world of all-too-many “unique” lofts.

The babble does not say: are those real tin ceilings? If so, note how the light fixtures in the living area and master suite plug into the ceiling instead of being hung from a track. I don’t even play a contractor on TV (and did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night) but I think that is another candidate for One True Indicator of a high quality renovation, as I suspect the ceiling had to be removed to run electrical on top at some point.

playing with numbers to suss out the deck
Is this May 6, 2010 link to my analysis of The Miller’s approach to valuing outdoor space the most frequent internal Manhattan Loft Guy link? Probably, because it is such a useful thing. How the private roof deck on top of the 6th floor at 17 Greene Street should fit in that analysis is difficult to assess in the last listing (there are no pix of the deck and no babble beyond “1500sf private rooftop”) but the old one from February 2010 has a lovely photo of a lovely planted deck with big open views. (Check out pic 6 from that listing; don’t think I have ever seen such a … poetic? … photo in a listing before.)

The deck is not ‘too big’ under The Miller’s rubric and it appears to add vistas unavailable to the interior space below. I would quibble that the stairway access is not quite optimal (as in a true penthouse, with direct lateral access to the outdoors), but that is my only quibble. (Old habits die hard.) Net-net, this deck should carry a value closer to 50% of the interior space than 25%, but that range suggests an adjusted price-per-foot for $3.925mm for “3,200 sq ft” interior and “1,500 sq ft” exterior of $994/ft (using 50%) to $1,098/ft (using 25%).

Don’t those numbers seem low to you for such a beautiful loft with a very efficient floor plan in Soho? They do to me. Granted, the first Soho block on Greene Street is not prime Soho (it gets way too much northbound traffic from the end of Church Street for that), but still … an adjusted $1,080/ft strikes me as low. No doubt, it really struck the sellers (who had been asking much higher) as really low.

why isn’t free maintenance more expensive?
There is yet one more reason this clearing price is very low to me. Note that the maintenance is $3,000/mo, which is appropriate for a no frills coop at under $1/ft, but …. But the net maintenance is zero:

Leased retail space on the ground floor consistently generates income sufficient to negate maintenance costs for the building’s owners.

If you are ‘saving’ $3,000/mo in carrying costs every month because of the retail income shared by shareholders, that represents about $450,000 in borrowing power (at a round number 5%). You could reasonably argue that the net cost of this purchase is not $3.925mm but $3.475mm. (No mortgage has been filed on this purchase yet but that may just be a lag in filing.)

If you re-do the adjusted dollar-per-foot numbers using this adjusted (net) purchase price, you get staggeringly low figures: an adjusted (net) price-per-foot for $3.475mm for “3,200 sq ft” interior and “1,500 sq ft” exterior of $880/ft (using 50%) to $972/ft (using 25%).

You will find many many many lofts on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008 that sold for higher numbers than these; I doubt you will find any in these dollar ranges that are as drool-worthy as this one.

pushing the limits of my “on market” measures
A note about one data field in that Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008. This is a reminder that (like everyone else who tracks how long it takes a listing to sell) I use an arbitrary figure to look at when days Off The Market should or should not be counted. For reasons I may have explained at greater length somewhere (can’t put a finger on it quickly now), I use 90 days as a cut-off to re-set a Days On Market clock to zero. As a result, my “to market” clock for this loft starts in February 2010 instead of October 2010. Other people might say this has really been on the market since last October because of that hiatus, but I chose a standard 90 days and this barely fits in that.

Using any ‘back on the market’ date is one alternative way to count, but so many listings go off for a short period (over the year-end holidays, for example) that a huge numbers of clocks would get re-set under that approach. Anything else, and you have to decide how long ‘off’ is long enough to re-set. I use 90 days; YMMV.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011



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