95 Franklin Street loft sells with new space (not just newly renovated space)


the mezz makes the man, er, loft

One of the hoary things you hear Manhattan real estate boosters say is that real estate here is so valuable because “it’s an island, they are not making more of it”. Of course that is not true, as this cool feature from a walking tour company shows (see the lower Manhattan coastline grow from 1660, to 1766, to 1803, to 1834, to 2004), but you’d think it would be more true in lofts with, you know, fixed exterior walls (more so in apartments, of course). I’ve done a bunch of posts about mezzanine spaces, some that work well, and others that don’t. The “2,031 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6A at 95 Franklin Street that just sold for $2.75mm is noteworthy for having a mezzanine that works well, and a mezzanine that is bigger than it was when it was bought by these sellers in December 2004 at $1,527,375. “Making more of it”, and dressing it well, worked out pretty well for those folks.


The glory of the loft is the ceiling height (17 feet), that and a long north wall of 6 “huge” windows. Apart from the ceiling height, the listing and floor plan have no measurements or dimensions. Having seen it, I can say that the mezzanine works surprisingly well for covering so much of the footprint. This upper level is proportionately much larger than the mezzanine that The Market loved and that I hit in my March 4, when beautiful things happen to high ceilings / 720 Greenwich Street loft sells big after mezzanine re-do. Here, maybe only a quarter of the footprint has those 17 foot ceilings, with about two-thirds of the space being doubled-up, with very un-loft-like 8+ foot ceilings. It works, in part because the mezzanine is almost completely open, with steel frames and glass barriers forcing people to use the stairs. The challenge that comes with the space, then, is that the master suite is largely exposed visually (though there are those wood panels up in front of the bed) and completely exposed aurally. The only privacy is from the other bedrooms (one up, one down).


There is also the live-with-it-or-HATE-it challenge of the spiral stair access to the upper level, and the tactical choice whether to force the user of the upstairs bedroom to spiral down to use the downstairs bath, or to share the master bath.


creating space out of thin air, for fun and profit

You can’t see the original floor plan or listing description from when the recent sellers bought loft #6A from the sponsor in 2004, but I can (it is in our system). The original floor plan for the loft as sold by the developer had a laundry and half bath on either side of the kitchen, a full bath downstairs where the present large one is, a mezzanine that was limited to the back (south) wall, over the kitchen, entry and that full bath accessed by a straight stair at the end of the kitchen, with no other walls. The full ceiling height was available to well more than half of the footprint. The recent sellers about doubled the size of the mezzanine, adding a full bath, and installing a spiral stair.


Property Shark has this loft at “2,031 sq ft”, which is the number I use on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008. I have to believe that is a measurement based on the footprint + (smaller) mezzanine, especially as that fits my ballpark estimates, that the original mezzanine was about well less than half of the footprint, and the new mezzanine at about three-quarters. Let’s guess that the footprint is about 1,500 sq ft, add a third to get about 2,031 sq ft as of December 2004; add about 67% and you go from 1,500 to the “2,500 sq ft” claimed in the recent broker babble. Works for me.


beautiful work

As I mentioned, the large mezzanine works because it is open and airy, but it doesn’t work for everyone, because not everyone wants that open and that airy. The loft has beautiful finishes (remember: I saw it), including that “Abundance of Customized Closets”, the best of which (in that dressing area) are not pictured. It took The Market a while to appreciate the loft, and/or it took the sellers a while to appreciate at which price point The Market might appreciate the loft:

July 9, 2012 new to market $3.2mm
Nov 10   $2.995mm
Feb 8, 2013


Mar 20 sold $2.75mm


It is almost impossible to make the adjustments to rigorously comp this loft, starting from figuring out how big it is now (maybe “2,500 sq ft”), then figuring out an appropriate loft discount for there being un-loft-y 8+ foot ceilings over much of the space, then finding a similar size loft with a similar proportion of mezzanine and a similar level of finishes (ha!). As I say, almost impossible to do rigorously. At “2,500 sq ft”, the clearing price comes to $1,100/ft, well below “nice” Tribeca lofts, as it should be because nice Tribeca lofts of this (real) size feature master suites with windows and walls that go to the ceiling. At “2,031 sq ft”, the value bumps up to a more reasonable $1,354/ft, but that is almost certainly an artificial number based on a layout that no longer exists.


Did I mention (today) that comping is hard? These sellers and this brokerage team would agree, seeing that loft #6A took 7 months to find a contract in a pretty busy sellers’ market.


one picture of a motivated buyer

I saw this loft before that price drop with pretty motivated buyers who needed 3 bedrooms in Tribeca. They probably had the same reaction as many 3-bedroom Tribeca buyers (the spiral stair and the open master were deal breakers) but here is how motivated they were: the elevator was out of service when we got there, so we walked up 5 (tall!) flights of stairs, and “we” was me and the 4-months pregnant half of the buyer couple. She will remain my poster child mother for what a truly motivated buyer can do, non-monetarily.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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