loft with artist's personality sells at $1,174/ft at 149 Franklin Street

customized space, customizable
The Manhattan loft #5S at 149 Franklin Street that just sold has a very idiosyncratic character and a fascinating (odd) floor plan. No one who has seen it was surprised to see that it was the long-time live and work space for an artist, "2,300 sq ft" with a single bedroom, a living room facing Franklin Street, and the rest of the space (that bedroom and the large studio) facing south toward Leonard Street. The studio and the living room are about the same size, separated by a hallway that doubles as a kitchen.

Yes, that “fully loaded new kitchen” with premium finishes is the transition from the public space (east) to the private and working space (west). That’s odd. This is one of those floor plans that was ideal for the solitary artist who could entertain at one end and work at the other end, but almost any other use requires tinkering, or more. To merely tinker, the new owner may add bedrooms to that south-facing western end of the loft, leaving the plumbing in the middle and the public space on the east. Though at this price point a gut renovation may be in the offing.

The footprint is likely to excite architects: first, note the plumbing stacks, then erase all the walls. There is so much more flexibility with this shape and those window than with the typical 2,300 sq ft Long-and-Narrow. I am a bit surprised (and rather impressed) with the clearing price, given the overwhelming temptation of any buyer to gut the space.

to buy + gut is a near-Peak experience
The last sale in the building was the entire 3rd floor at The Peak, which sold on March 31, 2008 (you can’t be any closer to The Peak than the last day of 1Q08) for $3.84mm, or $1,219/ft for “3,100 sq ft” that was so poorly ‘combined’ that there were still 2 kitchens. Assume that space has since been rationalized, which could be dome simply by erasing the “office / den” and removing either kitchen, or more thoughtfully through an extensive renovation.

If anything, the 3rd floor was easier to fix in an inexpensive manner than loft #5S, yet #5S just got 96% of Peak pricing on a $/ft basis.

Loft #5S at $1,174/ft is also a remarkable price in comparison to a “2,400 sq ft” condo loft that sold next door that sold in August in move-in condition and floor plan at (only) $1,228/ft. That was #2S at 155 Franklin Street, which I hit in my September 24, speedy 155 Franklin Street loft sale shows neighbor’s frostbite in 2009, also a classic loft:

This is a loft lover’s loft, for loft lovers who prefer ‘classic’ to clean-lines-minimalist. Such a lover would swoon over the wood beams and exposed joists, might compose sonnets to the iron columns, and would fawn over the exposed mechanicals. Indeed, one’s pulse would quicken over All. That. Brick. (Much of it pleasingly distressed.)

149 Franklin is a coop, yet #5S just got 95.6% of nearby very comparable condo pricing on a $/ft basis.

monthly expenses increase value
One of the difficulties in comping a loft like #5S is that the coop maintenance is rather low and there is an additional ownership component that comes with the #5S shares. If I am interpreting the broker babble correctly, the $1,179/mo in monthly maintenance is as low as it is ($0.51/ft) because the coop derives income from the ground floor commercial space. For comparison, loft #2S next door at 155 Franklin was also babbled for being inexpensive to own (“Lowest monthlies”) but that $842/mo in common charges and $1,379/mo in real estate taxes come to $0.91/ft. The difference of $0.40/ft in favor of #5S ($920/mo) represents about $114,000 in mortgage principal at 5%.

In addition to the monthly cost reduction, #5S owns 12.2% of that ground floor space. While it might take a CPA consult to assess the worth of that interest, apart from reducing maintenance, this coop loft sold at $1,174/ft, in part, because of these collateral benefits. But there are some (non-financial) risks to loft #5S.

much diligence due; done??
Loft #5S gets great light (“very bright”), with a handsome view north across Franklin Street and the better light coming from the long wall of south windows. It is easy to fall in love with that light; I just hope the buyer squinted enough to wonder how long that light might last.

I hit the possible development at 11 – 15 Leonard Street, directly south of 149 Franklin, in that September 24 post about the wonderful loft that sold next door just a little bit higher. Development of that site would have a greater impact on #5S at 149 Franklin (“13 oversized windows most of them facing south”) than on #2S at 155 Franklin. This is what I said about the 155 Franklin risks:

One assumes that the #2S buyers did their diligence, as did the #3S buyers before them. One assumes that the buyers looked at those 6 east-facing windows and (a) enjoyed the sunny prospect, then (b) wondered how long it might last.
 

For those of you who can see photos on Property Shark, here is the Shark’s building page for the single story structure under those east windows at 155 Franklin Street (aka 7-9 Leonard Street). That old (graffiti-laden) garage at 11 Leonard Street certainly adds a note of street grit to the locale, and an obvious element of risk.
 

One assumes that the “S” line buyers (especially, though development is also an issue for the “N” line) were sufficiently diligent to uncover this former listing for the single-story neighbor.

 

With C6-2A zoning and 75’ frontage, many options are available for its new owner. Maximum flexibility exists for use as owner/user, live-work, grand single townhouse, loft/residence, mixed-use or luxury condominium development. The FAR 4 allows for significant square footage to be built on this property – up to 26,101 SF with a lot size is 5,689 SF. Landmarked approved development plans are available upon request.

 

If that site were ever developed, it certainly would not take a very massive building to eliminate (substantially, if not completely) any view east from the “S” line at 155 Franklin Street, while possibly preserving some light and air from the more northern east windows of the “N” line (again, see the Shark’s building photo of the garage for the 155 Franklin Street window array over the garage).

Did I mention that I am a bit surprised (and rather impressed) with the clearing price? It is not just that there is likely to be a substantial renovation expense for the new buyers; there is the risk of losing (much of) that lovely southern exposure. Rather impressed, indeed.

© Sandy Mattingly 2011

 

 

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