bidding war for 35 Vestry Street loft ends up only 5%

for brick lovers only
There is a staggering amount of brick in the front room of the “1,561 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the
5th floor at 35 Vestry Street in northwest Tribeca that just zoomed through the market, and by “zoomed” I mean first showing at January 20 open house, contract by February 7. Of course the brick helped, but my guess is that the real driver on this deal was the very efficient floor plan, fitting 2 rear bedrooms and a (not windowed) den into a 22 foot wide classic Long-and-Narrow array of a (modest for a Tribeca loft) “1,561 sq ft” footprint.

The highlight for brick lovers has to be the puzzling arch in the living room. I can’t figure out why that arch is there. Usually, you see such elements where two buildings were combined, permitting goods or equipment to be moved laterally, but this arch is not on the retaining wall. I don’t think arches originally ran the length of the building, as the columns don’t line up symmetrically for that, and I don’t recall ever seeing a loft building with those kind of arches for support (as opposed to the common barrel vault ceilings, sometimes of brick, which run side-to-side rather than front-to-back). The
2nd floor also has one (and just one), so it appears that there is an arch in this location on each floor. If anyone has a clue for this (perhaps distracting only to me) detail, I’d appreciate it.

The finishes appear to be high quality, enthusiastically babbled with proper proper names, including “Radiant heated floors throughout” (not just in the baths; another odd element). What’s interesting about these nice finishes is that they were state of the art when the building was converted to residential loft living at the turn of the century and have held up well.

As noted, The Market loved the loft: contract within 17 days for first showings, at a moderate bump over the $2.295mm asking price, up to the funny number $2,402,525. Another way to express the market love: $1,539/ft in a no-frills condo just off the Holland Tunnel spillways. That’s a whole lotta love.

There are only 6 units in the condo, 5 full-floor lofts plus the much larger penthouse with an addition on the roof. Each of the other full-floor units has been resold once since the sponsor sales, with the 5th floor now having been resold twice. The most recent sale before the 5th floor 2 months ago was the 2nd floor way back near Peak. The link above shows it came out on March 17, 2008, in near perfect timing, at $1.95mm but you need
this link to see that it closed at only $1.72mm on May 8, 2008. The 2nd floor is a little smaller than the others (“1,501 sq ft”), was built to the same high standard with essentially the same floor plan and identical utility, though missing the light and World Trade Center view claimed on the 5th floor.

Look again at how much The Market loved the 5th floor. On a $/ft basis, the 5th floor in 2013 just traded at a 34% premium to the 2nd floor (at $1,146/ft) 5 weeks after The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. Again: a whole lotta love.

the real action was in 2004

As well received as the 5th floor was in the current market, it was actually the folks who sold to the recent sellers who really made out. The recent sellers were buyers on August 19, 2004 at $1.68mm, meaning that they just got a 43% (gross) gain in nearly 9 years. But their sellers in 2004 at $1.68mm paid $972,500 to the sponsor on June 13, 2000, for a gain in only four years of 73%. Nicely played, original buyers; nicely played.

for other action, 2008
Maybe the 2nd floor didn’t do so well so close to The Peak for … er … structural reasons. The 5th floor listing photo of the building is an old one; there’s no longer a open lot just to the east. This
Real Deal piece from August 8, 2012 is about the “long-stalled seven-unit condominium building in Tribeca designed by architect Winka Dubbledam and once eyed by Lady Gaga [which] has sold out, more than five years after it first hit the market”. Part of the reason for the delay at 33 Vestry Street was “in 2008 after construction was forced to stall while foundation work was completed on the existing building next door, at 35 Vestry Street, which was said to be unstable”.

That must have been exciting. A building built in 1915 (as
StreetEasy says) and gut renovated in 2000 “was said to be unstable” 8 years later. I have no idea if that had anything to do with the 2nd floor sale being (only) $1.72mm that May, but it’s possible.

ebbs and flows, flows and ebbs
For those of you who have forgotten your history of the land now known as Tribeca, people used to live here, before these (formerly) manufacturing and industrial lofts were built, and long before they were converted to residential use. The Google tells me that a 92 year old who died in 1892 hosted a post-funeral reception for friends and relatives at 35 Vestry Street, described in
a New York Times death notice from 1892 as her “former residence”.

It was likely that that (wood frame?) residence was torn down in 1907 to make way for the a stable in this by-then very busy commercial area. (The always reliable Wired New York has a reference to the Landmarks material for the Tribeca North district that indicates that a stable was built on this site in 1907. If StreetEasy is right that the current structure at 35 Vestry was built in 1915, that stable didn’t last long.)

That puzzling brick arch may hint at what use the building was built for in 1915, but the sequence here is a (probably modest) house (probably) dating from the mid-19th century, to a stable for a very brief time to open the last century, to an industrial use for up to 85 years, to luxury loft living at the turn of this century.

Plus ca change, indeed.


© Sandy Mattingly 2013

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply