459 Washington Street loft bounces back to the right price to sell

starting at the right price is not enough
I always wonder about the agent-seller dialogues with a sale like that of Manhattan loft #4N at 459 Washington Street (John Watts Condo), which cleared at $2.2mm on January 10. Working backwards from the fact that the contract was signed (November 10) from an ask of $2.35mm, that ask was the right price to generate a deal. (After all, that is the job of the asking price: to cause a qualified buyer to bid into a range a seller can negotiate from.)

The funny thing is that this right price was in place not only from October 14 to the contract, but also from March 31 to May 7, and the wrong price was in place from May 7 to October 14. (Maybe not funny to the seller and agent….)

What might that conversation been like that resulted in the price being raised from $2.35mm to $2.45mm? And which one of them said to the other I told you so, when they found a contract 4 weeks after restoring the original asking price??

The Market proved that $2.45mm was not only not the correct value for this loft, but too high to motivate a buyer to step forward. Personally, I advise my buyers interested in a loft with thsi kind of asking price history to ignore the price increase; to bid (if interested at all) as though the asking price was the orriginal (lower) figure. I wonder if that is what happened here.

about as high as Tribeca gets
This “1,934 sq ft” loft in a 2002 condo conversion sits in that extreme northwest corner of Tribeca that has become a bit more more fashionable since it opened, with the River Lofts (a bit south) as the big game changer in 2005, and also Zinc, Fairchild and Pearline Soap nearby; it is further north than my office at the corner of Broadway and Broome Street. For a 21st Century conversion, there is not a lot of bragging about the interior, but maybe they are just shy. Back in the day, the only draw around here was Capsouto Freres, just across Watts Street, open since 1980 (not to ignore Ponte’s [formally, F. Illi Ponte Ristorante], but that restaurant seems like a different neighborhood, though only 1 block south; must be that West Street frontage).

one out of two ain’t bad?
That May 7 #4N price increase to $2.45mm was almost certainly related to pricing decisions about the loft next door (#4S, with “2,081 sq ft”), which the same sellers brought to market on May 11 (per our data base), and which was represented by the same agent. The side-by-side view is interesting:

    #4N #4S  
March 31 new $2.35mm   $1,215/ft
May 7   $2.45mm   $1,267/ft
May 11 new   $2.75mm $1,321/ft
June 10 contract   $2.6mm $1,249/ft
July 28 sold   $2.6mm $1,249/ft
Oct 14   $2.35mm   $1,215/ft
Nov 10 contract $2.2mm   $1,138/ft
Jan 10 sold $2.2mm   $1,138/ft

In short, #4N took more than 7 months to find a contract 10% lower than the contract that #4S found in one month. Both spaces are classic Long-and-Narrow lofts, both seem to have the same finishes (and potential). The only hint about a difference is that the #4N views are babbled about less enthusiastically (“open river views”) than the #4S views (“amazing sunlight and views”; “spectacular water views”).

The sellers made an interesting choice to bring out #4S to compete with #4N 6 weeks after #4N had had the field to itself. Evidently, #4N suffered in the comparison.

No need to feel too badly for these sellers. They still own both #6S and #6N, also purchased in the sponsor sale in 2002.

tales of Olde Tribeca, circa 1996
Speaking of Ponte’s, that family figures in a story about the immediate neighborhood around 459 Washington Street that indicates how different this corner is from ‘prime’ Tribeca, and what a different time line for (re)development operated way up here. As late as 1996, the small building directly across the street (460 Washington; owned by the Ponte family) was part of a fish business that stretched out onto the sidewalk and street that the City found so obnoxious as to have sued to shut the business down.

I came across this 2002 Stipulation of Settlement of a 1996 “public nuisance” lawsuit by the City against the building across the street, for using the sidewalks and streets as part of a “fish forwarding and redistribution” business. It sounds as though the scale (no pun intended, honest) was even bigger than the sidewalk fishmongers of Chinatown, and it must have been pretty intrusive (and stinky) to have gotten to the point of a City lawsuit. I wonder if that the timing of that settlement is just a coincidence with the conversion of 459 Washington into condos that very same year (2002).

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

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