sale at 97 Crosby Street is a Big Deal for NY Times (for wrong reason)

Old Grey Lady shoots for hip, misses
Did anyone else find this piece in the Big Deal feature of Sunday’s real estate section of the NY Times weird? In Rachel Comey Buys SoHo Loft, reporter Liz Harris emphasizes her lack of hip (in a post-modern, ironic kind of way??):

For certain hip young things, the name Rachel Comey might evoke images of a fabulous pair of boots or a chic librarian. For those of us who frequent the Gap, she may be unfamiliar. But we can learn!

I will admit that I don’t know Rachel Comey from Alexander Wang, who featured in my June 13, 39 Worth St finally closes, makes the papers, but I mean that as a confession or acknowledgment … I am neither bragging nor promising to learn ("I am way out of my league in commenting on designers and fashion, but I see that the guy [39 Worth Street buyer] has won awards two years running from the Council of Fashion Designers of America").

As if to emphasize the disconnect, Harris drops in a single celebrity reference for context, one whom she (and I!) can relate to:

According to public records, Ms. Comey, a fashion designer whose wares are available at stores like Barneys New York and have drawn celebrities like David Bowie, has bought a loft in SoHo for about $1.3 million.

This is a most circumspect sentence. Wouldn’t readers interested in Manhattan lofts want to know where in Soho this loft is? As it turns out, not only would Manhattan Loft Guy want to know, but I do know. And so do you, if you’ve been keeping up with the Master List of Manhattan loft closings. The deed was filed June 9, and I believe I updated the Master List last weekend. I did not recognize the buyer’s name, but I did find it interesting that she was moving from Elizabeth Street near Prince Street (a rental building, as it turns out) to Crosby Street near Prince. (More on that, later.)

The real story, once you see the details, is not about the buyer but about the price and the velocity of the sale.

price it right, yada, yada, yada
The Manhattan loft 97 Crosby Street #4 came to market on March 24 at $1.195mm and was in contract at $1.31mm by April 18. That is the story for Manhattan Loft Guy. We were just here yesterday (another quick sale, as 1 Hudson Street closes up 10% AND down 10%), so I am not going to repeat the links to other price-right=sell-quick posts.

What you can’t tell from the spare listing history is why the buyer felt the obvious sense of urgency that she did. It could be that another buyer was also interested right away (the most likely explanation). Or it could be that this buyer knew exactly what she wanted and what it was worth to her, and when she found it she pushed the seller to do a quick deal.

You have to assume the seller would have been happy with a sale at 100% of the asking price, so you wonder if the buyer over-paid (in the strictly limited sense of where comps might value the loft; not on what she might have had to do to compete with other buyers).

The last fully residential loft to sell at 97 Crosby Street was way back in the heading-to-Peak days of September 2007, when the 6th floor sold above ask and quickly at $1.43mm. That contract took all of 9 days, off an asking price of $1.395mm. There is only a spread of 6% between the September 2007 and May 2010 sales, though it is possible (reading between the listing description lines) that the 4th floor has a higher level of finishes than the 6th floor 3 years ago.

The 4th floor listing agents are quoted in the NY Times as calling the loft’s current condition as "mint Arts and Crafts … [n]ot all slick glass and chrome". I suspect the condition appealed to Ms. Comey more than the layout, as this relatively small loft ("1,300 sq ft") has 3 bedrooms. The footprint is classic Long-and-Narrow, with the luxury of multiple windows and plumbing stacks on both Long sides. That third bedroom up front steals a front window from the living space (just look at the featured photo on the listing); I’d bet at least a quarter that the buyer takes those walls down.

about that 3 block move…

I can’t help but wonder about what someone less circumspect than a NY Times writer might say about Ms. Comey’s move from Nolita to Soho. Someone like Chloe Malle of The Observer, who definitely views herself as being in the snark business. She famously (to me) blasted the other Hot Shot Designer’s move from the Lower East Side to Tribeca; as I noted on June 13 this is

a fact that brings out the snark from The Observer:
"Alex resides in New York City’s Lower East Side, where there is never a shortage of inspiration in music, life, reality and culture," the biography on his Web site notes. He might be in for a rude awakening with his move to Gotham’s richest and least lively dominion.

all the news that is fit to link to, but not to print
The lack of detail in the NY Times treatment of the 97 Crosby Street sale is similar to another Big Deal from Sunday, which happens to be about another sale I have already hit. Harris also reported on Sunday as a Big Deal that Griffin Dunne and Wife Buy a Condo, without identifying the condo … even though she links to the article in The Observer that has the details. (Curiously, although the article references StreetEasy information about that deal, the link is to the home page, not the property record for this transaction.)

I guess The Times has an editorial policy against specific identifying information about celebrity homes, even if they credit a source that does identify the home as they did with "… the sale, which was first reported online by the Observer on Tuesday…".

I will never understand the New York Times. Love it? Absolutely. Understand it? Not so much. If they want to do "Big [celebrity] Deals", how are they going to compete against The Observer and the turncoat at the Wall Street Journal (just kidding, Josh!)??

© Sandy Mattingly 2010



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