a triangle, if only on paper
How far would you consider it acceptable to walk to the refrigerator to get, say, vegetables to wash in the sink? If you said “really far, and please, can we put a door in the way as well?” then you might be the seller of the “2,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 7th floor at 543 Broadway in the heart of Soho, which sold (above ask!) for $3mm on May 14. or perhaps you were the seller before that, when the same loft, in the same condition and configuration, sold for $2.275mm two years earlier. (We’ll get to that anomaly in a bit, but stay with me n the kitchen, please.) I wouldn’t have thought there were two people with such a preference, but that’s the fun of looking at Manhattan lofts every day … you see some things that are very impressive and you see some things that are weird.
This kitchen doesn’t look too weird, on first look:
And the pantry is large:
It is a bit of a cliche in kitchen design to talk about The Work Triangle. Here’s one basic treatment, with guidelines!
it is a triangle — albeit an imaginary one — that has always been an important element of a kitchen’s design and functionality.
The “work triangle” is defined by the National Kitchen and Bath Association as an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the sink, to the center of the cooktop, to the center of the refrigerator and finally back to the sink. The NKBA suggests these guidelines for work triangles:
- The sum of the work triangle’s three sides should not exceed 26 feet, and each leg should measure between 4 and 9 feet.
- The work triangle should not cut through an island or peninsula by more than 12 inches.
- If the kitchen has only one sink, it should be placed between or across from the cooking surface, preparation area, or refrigerator.
- No major traffic patterns should cross through the triangle.
Efficiency is the triangle’s main goal, as it keeps all the major work stations near the cook, without placing them so close that the kitchen becomes cramped. The work triangle is also designed to minimize traffic within the kitchen so the cook isn’t interrupted or interfered with.
My experience of visiting this loft with a buyer in 2013 was a bit surreal. We’d seen but hadn’t studied the floor plan in advance, and were more focused on the mess of walls and plumbing in the back of the loft (how to rationalize that part of the layout?) than on the large open kitchen. When we went into the pantry and the lightbulb went off in my head, my buyer was puzzled about why I was chuckling. I pointed to the frig, which he thought a wonderful convenience, until he realized that the frig was the frig. I don’t think anyone else at the open house got the joke.
The Market and Manhattan Loft Guy, not on the same page (again)
But we know that is not what happened, and that the buyer in 2013 at $2.275mm did quite well for herself in selling last month. The overall Manhattan residential real estate sales market was up 20% in those two years (per StreetEasy’s Manhattan Condo Index, of course). That simple time adjustment implied that the loft would be worth about $2.75mm in 2015, so a data nerd might think that the 2013 buyer was pushing it a bit by coming to market on December 12 at $2.85mm.
Of course, in the real world at least two buyers thought the $2.85mm asking price was a bargain, and the new owner just paid $3mm for the same loft in the same condition as when it sold for $2.75mm 24 months earlier.
I assume there is a renovation budget on top of the purchase price, but you never know.
windows are sorta awkward, also
The broker babble highlights the south exposure (those five windows on the long wall in the floor plan above).
This is the first floor that clears the neighboring southern building and therefore has windows facing south as well.
While true, this feature is not as much fun in real life as on paper. Start with the building photo, which includes that neighbor to the south.
Here’s what the windows contribute in real life, in this case in the master bedroom:
These five south windows are real windows, they just don’t do as much as most windows do. Not that it mattered in 2015: asked $2.85mm, sold for $3mm. Even with those windows up by the ceiling and that frig-in-pantry. Go figure.
out-performing The Market, even in a very mature Soho market
Soho hasn’t been an up-and-coming real estate sales market for many years. As a well developed (“mature”) submarket, the theory is that there should be limited opportunity for outsized gains, and limited risk, compared to markets that are ‘developing’. But theories are macro, and individual sales are data points.
As I noted above, the overall Manhattan residential real estate market is up 20% from May 2013 to February 2015, while this 7th floor loft went from $2.275mm to $3mm. (When will StreetEasy update the Manhattan Condo Index beyond February 2015??) The Index suggests that this loft would have been worth about $450,000 more this year than the $2.275mm the recent seller paid to buy it in May 2013. Instead, the loft was actually worth $725,000 more (a gain of 32%).