true artists’ loft goes under $1,000/ft in Soho, not the $1,250/ft they wanted

an artist’s life in a Soho loft, from back in the day

The listing photos and description for the recently sold “4,000 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3WR at 140 Grand Street are a form of time machine. Back to the 1970s, at least, when a loft this big would have but two (modest) bathrooms and one (count ’em) bedroom (also modest), with more than two-thirds of the space devoted to artist studios (two) and storage or “work area” (floor plan, here). The pix show the 12+ foot ceilings, the beaten to hell hardwood floors, windows that must be 9 x 4 feet, and abundant  evidence of at least one working painter and possibly a working sculptor. As if there weren’t enough space already, the high ceilings permit storage over storage in Studio 1. Walls, columns, beams, and ceiling are painted white (except over the kitchen), further lightening the space, as do pretty large clerestory windows.

There’s no marketing need to show the bedroom, the baths, the sauna(!), or the kitchen, as none of these elements will survive the first day of demolition, but I’d love to see them from an anthropology perspective (and to see if a kitchen qualifies as “Spanish styles” only by tile work). How the working artist lived ….

Curiously, the space as now set-up is oriented as though the stairs were the main entry rather than the “oversized keyed elevator which opens directly into the apartment”. The floor plan’s “entrance” is there, two apparent coat closets are there, and that is the single point that gives best access to both studios. The huge elevator, by contrast, enters at the darkest part of the loft, seems to face a utility sink, and is a long and very circuitous route to Studio 2.

If there is a quiet stretch of Grand Street, this massive and handsome building at the northeast corner of Crosby Street is in it. (The building photo in the listing is nice, but doesn’t do justice. The Property Shark selection of building photos are worth your gaze. And wonder.) More romance: the coop dates from 1977 (artist usage very likely preceded that), and the sponsor (original shareholders?) dubbed their cooperative enterprise Ironclad Artists, Inc. Gotta love that.

enough loft charm, let’s talk dollars

These numbers imply that the sellers were disappointed to get less than $1,000/ft:

May 16 new to market $4.965mm
July 9 $4.4mm
Aug 6 contract
Nov 25 sold $3.9mm

The dollar per foot values drop off pretty quickly with a loft as large as “4,000 sq ft”. Starting at $1,241/ft and getting (only) $975/ft doesn’t seem quite as dramatic as selling for more than a million dollars less than the starting point. That feels dramatic! As dramatic in a tawdry mercantile sense as 12 foot ceilings, cast iron columns, and huge factory windows are in a charming (authentic!) loft sense.

More data that imply disappointment: the adjoining loft is much too small as to be a direct comp, but the “1,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #3ER sold in April 2013 for a heady $1,250/ft. (Look again at where #3WR started.) That loft sounds more “finished” than “mint”, though it is definitely at a higher level of renovation than a 4,000 sq ft loft that is mostly artist studio and storage. Loft #3ER had central air, classic lot tenements (of course), but boasted only of a modern kitchen with marble and stainless. Still: $1,250/ft.

The “2,000 sq ft” loft #3WF gets closer to #3WR in scale, and in condition. It was billed as a working studio, “fully wired and plumbed and is ready and waiting for your contractor to renovate”. It sold in February 2011 for $1.875mm, or $937/ft. Since then, of course, the overall Manhattan real estate market is up (by 15%, per the StreetEasy Index). More disappointment for #3WR.

If you need less cheer this holiday season, consider the loft I hit in my December 5, whatever an “ungentrified” Manhattan loft is, one at 33 Bleecker Street just got $1,317ft. That one was also much smaller than #3WR at 140 Grand Street, at only “1,200 sq ft”, but it needed a gut renovation and you know from the title the result in dollars per foot. Or (gluttony?) the move-in condition loft with classic elements at 132 Greene Street I hit in my December 9, ceilings + columns + beams + brick get authentic Soho loft huge premium, despite steps. That one is also smaller (“1,550 sq ft”) and was finished, but it is a third floor walk-up in Soho at an adjusted $1,447/ft. One more and I will stop: the “2,100 sq ft” loft I hit in my November 19, true sculptor studio loft at 561 Broadway needs gut, gets $1,141/ft, was true to its blog title in that it needed a gut renovation yet sold for $1,141/ft, 14% higher than loft #3WR on a $/ft basis.

Disappointment abounds!

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