true artist loft sells at 140 Grand Street at $938/ft, but that's only half the story

the other half begins just over a mile north
The sale of the Manhattan loft #3WF at 140 Grand Street on February 3 caught my eye this morning for a bunch of reasons. First, it is the latest news (deed was filed today!), which you may yet read about as a "recent" sale in some dead tree media in, say, a month or two (you know I am talking about my February 25, NY Post “Just Sold” loft at 7 Worth Street was a Manhattan Loft Guy hit on December 21). Second, the space requires a complete build-out (possibly, a gut demolition), a condition I hit in my February 24, return of the gut renovation buyer / 222 Park Avenue South edition. Third, this was a full price sale, so I highlighted the asking price in yellow on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, as discussed in my latest riff on The Miller, February 19, The Miller found 9.2% of deals above ask; Manhattan Loft Guy, not so much. Finally, this is a joint live work quarters for artists loft, reminding me (yet again) that I have a draft blog post or two on the Soho A.I.R. conundrum in my drafts folder.

But that is only half of the story. Regular Manhattan Loft Guy readers know that I am fascinated by the personal stories behind the recorded deeds when lofts sell and that I often speculate about the circumstances that cause Sellers to sell and Buyers to buy specific lofts at particular times. That eight million stories in the naked city thing that sometimes leads beyond speculation to some real estate stalking. In this case, the buyers of the very primitive “2,000 sq ft” #3WF in Soho for $1.875mm were sellers at $3.3mm of a “3,100 sq ft” Flatiron loft that was beautifully built out in a large family configuration. Hmmm … speculation about that trade ahead!

waiver or certificate?
The new loft has clearly been used to create art, a use it is particularly well suited for, with 12 foot ceilings, a nearly square footprint with windows all along the south and west walls, and an elevator with dimensions (10’x7’x10’, a babble detail that is a classic marker for “artist loft”). The 17-unit coop appears to have been formed in 1977 and took a terrific name for a Soho artists coop in a cast-iron building: Ironclad Artists Inc. Of course, the building is zoned to prohibit residential use other than as Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists (M1-5B zoning). (See my November 12, did the NY Times just write the obituary for the Soho real estate market?, if you really need a primer on that.)

I have probably mentioned before that I plan to survey Soho sales to see if that New York Times “obituary” either created or reflected any real world problems in the Soho residential loft market, but I haven’t. Yet. (I have a draft in process that deals with this on-the-ground impact, but that is not ready for the light of blog yet.) Because The Google is my friend, I quickly got the sense that the buyers might actually qualify for artist certification, though I can’t be sure and I have no idea if they applied. I don’t need to use their names here, but the guy’s creative industry website proves that he is the buyer of this loft and their New York Times wedding announcement from 1990 (thank you Google!) establishes that she was a freelance photographer when they got married. Perhaps she has kept it up, or is in another artist role. There’s a limit to how much ‘net stalking I will do …

the old place was larger, done-er, family-er
But I will freely speculate about the trade the 140 Grand Street buyers made…. They now have the opportunity to build out 2,000 sq ft with high ceilings, great light, and plumbing lines at the northeast corner of Grand and Crosby Streets. I wonder if this is their empty nest, as they are certainly downsizing. They sold their former loft way back in July. That duplex loft (#9-10E at 105 Fifth Avenue) was “3,100 sq ft” of two similar boxes on top of each other, with the kitchen, dining and living areas on top, above the bedroom floor with 4 bedrooms and a “study/childrens play room”. Our database shows that they bought this duplex loft in 1999 and my guess is that the layout was perfect for raising a family, but that their space needs have changed.

Like the new loft, the old one features light (“superb light”, in fact, plus “lovely city views”) and high ceilings, in an essentially square footprint. While the new loft is smaller, it is larger than either floor of the old duplex. Of course, it is also raw. They can put in $500,000 in renovation costs and end up with exactly what they want, at a net cost still lower than asking prices for a half dozen renovated and similarly sized Soho lofts. I am sure they looked at those, but prefer to start fresh.

As one empty nest-er to another, best of luck to them!

breaking the mood
If I really hated to break the mood, I would have stopped before this paragraph. Let’s just say that I am compelled to break the mood and to offer a brief rant.

If you took only a quick look at the listing history of the old loft, you’d think that the last asking price was $3.3mm. You’d have to click around a bit to find the actual sale record, which is (surprise!) also $3.3mm. It appears that this was a full-price sale, but it wasn’t. The asking price was $3.5mm from coming to market November 14, 2009 until it closed on July 7, 2010 (the babble even says “Priced to sell at $3.5M”), but the asking price was changed two days after the sale to $3.3mm. Was this merely sloppy work, or some attempt to play with the system? I have no idea, but I hate when agents do that!!

Have a nice day.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011


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