132 Duane Street loft improves on mint, doesn't quite triple in value


to each his own
We are going to play with some sets of triple numbers here. The “2,300 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the
3rd floor at 132 Duane Street that recently sold for $3.4mm has now sold 4 times in mint condition and once in what had to have been less-than-mint condition. The loft sold for the first time with mints in 2001, at $1.16mm, so it is unfortunate that none of the past listing descriptions (in our listing system; StreetEasy has none from the earlier sales) claims “triple mint”. The recent sale is only 2.93 times the 2001 sale, which is close enough for me to say the value has tripled in 12 years. That 2001 seller was a buyer in 1996, and it must be she who started with the mints, as she paid only $380,000 (trust me, and our listing system on this). If you are stepping ahead of me you have already realized that the 2001 sale was really at triple the 1996 price (3.05 times, for you anal types). That’s a cool pair of triples.

Here are those prices and dates:

  • July 3, 1996 $380,000
  • May 1, 2001 $1.16mm
  • Mar 29, 2002 $1.231mm
  • Aug 30, 2005 $1.975mm
  • May 22, 2013 $3.4mm

Still playing, but now with numbers and dates. I hope we can agree that that 1996 to 2001 jump can only be explained by a dramatic improvement in condition. And we can guess that the 2001-buyer-turned-2002-seller decided she had not enjoyed post 9/11 Tribeca very much (like a lot of people in those days), though she did not take a financial bath to leave. Then there’s a big jump from 2002 to 2005 (and by “big jump” I mean 60%) as a tell that the Tribeca market was approaching froth in mid-2005. Which brings us back to the 2005-buyer-turned-2013-seller, who sold at a 72% premium but had to do some work to get that.

Enough with the numbers (for a while); let’s talk “quintessence” and broker babble. As I said, the 2005 babble is not available on StreetEasy. While spare, the listing description that survives in our system has some detail, with all broker-to-broker boxes checked “mint”:

This is the quintessential TriBeCa loft. Over 2100 square feet of space on a private floor on prime Duane Street. 2 bedrooms, separate den, 2.5 marble bathrooms, washer/dryer, Sub-Zero fridge, Bosch dishwasher, and 6-burner Viking stove. Beautiful exposed brick, 12 ceilings, security system, video intercom, motion detectors, central air conditioning and a key-locked elevator.


Note those kitchen and bath details when you compare the much more enthusiastic recent babbling:

The quintessential Tribeca experience at the highest taste level! Impeccably renovated loft refurbished down to the smallest details, this apartment is a dream home. … rich Acacia wood flooring from Austrian firm Mafi (only a handful of US residences have this special feature). … perfectly calibrated sounds from the fully integrated A/V system will welcome you home (Crestron throughout). … incredible amount of storage that has been brilliantly built-in. … cook’s dream kitchen outfitted with Miele appliances and custom lacquer cabinetry. … hidden temperature controlled wine cellar with a capacity of over 600 bottles. … configured as a 1 bed with a customized home office and … easily converted back to it’s original configuration as a 2 bed w/a baby’s room. … bathrooms … are spa quality and loaded with custom Corian surfaces, Duravit fixtures and Toto toilets.

The old photos support the 2005 babble, and the old floor plan is very similar to the alternate (“easily converted back to it’s original configuration as a 2 bed w/a baby’s room”, remember?)
floor plan with the recent listing. The basic structure is the same, 2005 and 2013, but you can see that some of the storage is new and that each bathroom has been reshaped. The kitchen is structurally and in shape the same, though the old appliances and cabinets are gone, and a “storage loft” above a dropped ceiling over the kitchen has been removed, and full kitchen ceiling height restored.

In other words, the basic structure is the same (the lost storage loft aside) but the ‘skin’ has been upgraded; to use these words, “refurbished down to the smallest details”. That skin includes the Acacia flooring, the new appliances, fixtures, cabinets and surfaces, and those “perfectly calibrated sounds from the fully integrated A/V system”.

No telling what the budget was for this refurbishment, but The Market loved it:

Feb 22 new to market $3.995mm
Mar 14 contract  
May 22 sold $3.4mm

That’s a $1.425mm gain over 2005, of course, some of which is the float from the rising tide of the overall Manhattan residential real estate market, and some of which is from the refurbishment. Which tells me that the most happy seller of this “quintessential” loft was that 2002-buyer-turned-2005-seller, who got that 60% gain in a much shorter time without having to improve on those mints.

small world, stable population, market changes
The StreetEasy
building page will tell you that this is a very small condo (only 4 units, though our system and another listing say 5) and that only one other unit has sold here since 2001, while the 3rd floor has sold 4 times.

That listing that specifies that there are 5 units in the building, by the way, was from a time when The Market did not love the 3rd floor. Of course, the loft should not have taken it personally, as
in those days The Market did not find much to love:

July 9, 2008 new to market $3.4mm
Aug 15 hiatus  
Sept 12 back on market  
Nov 7   $3.3mm
Dec 27 off the market  

I was going to say that the seller probably regretted going off the market those 4 weeks, or in coming back to market the last business day before Lehman filed for bankruptcy, but then I remember that he got $3.4 anyway. Five years later, but still ….

That unsuccessful marketing campaign was notable, in my eyes, for having a more impressive set of broker babble than any of the other campaigns:

Connoisseurs Condo. Prime Tribeca. Green, Serene & Extravagantly Designed Prewar Floor Thru Classic. Orignal [sic] brick work, 13ft ceilings & gas fireplace. Just completed architectural gut renovation by Massim Studio. Sublime White Lacquer Miele Kitchen w/ Brushed Oak Cabinets, Italian Lighting, Enormous Great Room, Surround Sound B & W System. Over the Top quality fixtures & appliances with fastidious attention to function & detail both sensual and technical. Imported Acacia Wood floors absolutely Glow! This loft is one of only 3 NYC residences to feature the custom Austrian wood floor. The skillfully designed and executed Teak Wood Master Walk-in is both Sculptural and Painterly. Enormous Spa Master En-Suite bath offers a SURPRISE Media Feature never seen. This is a small well run building with only 5 floor thru lofts & provides sought after privacy & insures low monthlies. Part-time Super. Pet friendly w/ Tons of storage within home & price includes a Huge additional storage room in basement. Totally Soundproofed!

That babble tells you that no matter how many mints there were before, there were a lot more after that then-recent
gut renovation. And that, my friends, is my last digression before the weekend. Enjoy!


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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