did 11 Lispenard Street loft (Tribeca) sell because close to Soho?

interesting (truthful) marketing angle
The “1,782 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the
5th floor at 11 Lispenard Street is so solidly “Tribeca” that it is one short block west of the original Triangle Below Canal block (more on that, below*). Yet it was marketed with reference to another neighborhood, one across a wide moat Canal: “[c]onveniently located near public transportation and steps from the wonderful shops of Soho”. I find this a fascinating marketing angle, in part because of its apparent rejection of the “Tribeca” brand, but mostly because it is true. While clearly in Tribeca, this location just east of the joint intersection with 6th Avenue and West Broadway is not very much of Tribeca.

I know the feeling: when I lived around the corner, just west and south, in the Pleistocene era (Tribeca, early 1980s) restaurants and shops near the southern border of Soho seemed more “local” than those in prime Tribeca (in those days, the blocks around Franklin and N. Moore, and Greenwich and Hudson). Thus, we regularly shopped at DeRoma’s (where Soho Mews is now) for convenience items, and it seemed perfectly logical (though geographically inappropriate) for what we called “the Vietnamese drug store” to call itself
Soho Pharmacy when it opened (in the mid-1980s?) 2 blocks south of Canal.

The Wiki sources the confirmation of this naming story to the local former City Council Member: residents on the next block of Lispenard, just east of Church, formed a block association intended to be limited to that one block and called it TRIangle BElow CAnal, as this one block is [very nearly] a triangle, but the New York Times misunderstood the narrow geography and used “TriBeCa” to refer to the whole region south of Canal. Darn the paper of record! The story is too good not to be true.)

a daunting plan
The broker babble is enthusiastic about the interior, and not just the proximity to Soho, though it overplays the flexibility:

phenomenal LIGHT from 3 exposures! … classic details … exposed pipes, soaring 10ft slated wooden ceilings and brick detailing …. Renovated modern kitchen features stainless steel Boffi cabinets, Miele and Verona appliances and concrete and stainless steel counter tops, all with an Empire State building view! … can easily be reconfigured to a 2 -3 BR layout. … bathrooms … with modern, classic finishes

Loft snobs always want more photos of “classic” lofts; in this case, of the “modern, classic” bathroom. But I love these details: the slatted (two “Ts” there) ceilings, especially in pix #2 and #3; the long white brick wall (throughout); and the muddle of electrical service installed on top of walls rather than inside, especially in pic #5.


Speaking of pic #5, toggle back and forth between this bed (not “bedroom”) photo and the floor plan. Can you see what you are looking at? (D’oh!) That bed is in the extreme southwest corner of the loft, with One York visible in that window startight ahead, open to the entire length of the loft. (“Open loft”, indeed!) What you can’t see just to the front right outside the frame of that photo is an unusual element so close to a bed: the elevator!

This classic loft is, of course, a classic Long-and-Narrow with the significant benefit of having 3 windows on the long west wall and the significant deficit of being
narrow (14’3” for most of its length). The limited width is ameliorated by the west windows, but only to a degree. And the flexibility in the footprint is significantly reduced by the placement of the elevator (so close to the front) and the placement of the kitchen (in the extreme northeast corner).

You can’t put split bedrooms on the north wall (in a classic use of a Long-and-Narrow footprint) without moving the kitchen, and the kitchen may not be movable along the public stairwell wall (note the fire door) without fancy dancing and significant expense. I suspect the “sleep area” is where it is on the east wall because of that bathroom (now) being en suite. To give a mid-loft (real) “bedroom” a window would necessitate a corridor along the east wall, away from that bathl.

The challenges in the current array are illustrated by nothing so well as the walk-in closet in the southeast corner … with a window! Personally, I would dispense with having a bathroom en suite, and make that front (open) sleeping area a 3-window bedroom and take out the current “sleep area”, using the first west window for a bedroom. You lose the sense of openness immediately on getting off the elevator, but making a hard right in a new corridor will open up the north expanse as the first long view.

Clever architects may have better ideas, but the problem with this very narrow footprint with utilities at each end is that you need a clever architect to figure it out. And probably dollars, many dollars. Can “easily be reconfigured to a 2 -3 BR layout”?? Puh-leeze.

In fact, the 2010 listing had two different 3-bedroom proposed floor plans, one with the second and third bedrooms squeezed around the elevator in the front, the other with them along the west wall opposite the stairwell; in each plan the master suite takes the entire north wall, the kitchen is relocated to the other end of the stairwell (next to that existing bath), and new windows are punched in that west wall. Clever; not cheap.

a bumpy road to contract
You need to click
here to see on StreetEasy that this 5th floor loft sold for the asking price of $2.049mm on April 19. I had a buyer interested in the loft in January, when the ask had been $2.15mm since Labor Day. We had figured the seller would be somewhat negotiable, given that all the other lofts in Tribeca seemed to have sold in a blink at this time, and seeing that it had then been offered for 4+ months without a contract.

The agent was kind enough to show without me (having cancelled an appointment the day before that I would have attended), and he showed my buyer a cash offer at $2.05mm on his smartphone email (that was interesting!), suggesting that my guy would have to come in above $2.1mm to beat that. Too much work to justify that bid for my guy, so he passed. Only later (February 20) did we learn that the new price was $2.049mm, suggesting that the “cash buyer” of early January had evaporated. Bummer.

2010 listing suggests another reason we thought the seller in 2013 might be negotiable. He paid $1.78mm on August 4, 2010 for the loft as-is in 2013. Having now sold at $2.049mm, the hyper-local market in this near-Soho-corner-of-Tribeca seems to be up 15% in less than 3 years. Not such a bummer for the seller, after all.

things I learned today
“Pisar na grama” (see main listing photo) means
Don’t Walk On The Grass in Portuguese. I don’t know if I will be able to use that in a sentence today without straining, however.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013


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