massive combined loft sells $65,000 above ask at 53 N. Moore Street

“ridiculous potential”, as in "not yet realized"
The strangest thing about the recent sale above ask of the “4,040 sq ft” Manhattan loft combination #2DE at 53 N. Moore Street is not that above-ask thing; no, the strangest thing about this loft is that it has such an awkward floor plan despite having been combined at least 11 years ago. But let’s get the pricing out of the way quickly, as it is easy:

Mar 28 new to market $4.795mm
May 28 contract  
July 30* sold $4.86mm

(Note that, while *this is Old News, it is newly available Old News: the deed was not filed until September 24.)

That is $1,203/ft for a loft that was damned with faint praise. I am not going to quote much of the babble (it has way too much SHOUTING for my tastes) but the nugget is in my sub-head and you can easily read the rest of it through the customary StreetEasy link. (Hint: it is all about bones, not finishes; 14 feet ceilings and huge casement windows, primarily.)

the floor plan whisperer
The July seller bought the loft already combined by the developer in 2001 (fun fact: for $1,741,000). If I had easy access to the original offering materials I would be curious to see if the sponsor originally tried to sell #2D and #2E separately, or always planned to combine them. Whenever the idea for that combination was fresh, the execution was minimal. Here is the “E” line floor plan, taken from this #6E rental listing from last year; and here is the “D” line floor plan, taken from this wildly unsuccessful sale listing for #5D in 2009 (a stunning renovation of a 2007 purchase that came out right after Lehman’s bankruptcy; oops!).

You are looking at two Long-and-Narrow lofts that are almost the same size, one with plumbing on both sides in the middle and the other with plumbing in the middle of the long wall shared with the other loft. Both have windows only front and back, so both have the two bedrooms in the rear, one in each case being en suite. The sponsor’s quick and dirty combination retained the kitchen in the old “D” line on (what would have been) the shared wall, and adding the laundry room where (part of) the old “E” kitchen would have been.

With one exception, the front of the combo works well: “A truly MASSIVE Great Room with huge casement windows”, indeed, at 36’6” x 31’ with 14 foot ceilings. So nice, that 2 of the 4 interior photos are of the great Room, with its 14 foot beamed ceilings and huge casement windows. A quibbler (moi?) would point out that the den does not have to be in that northwest corner, so the great room could be even more massive (what appears on the #2DE floor plan as a load-bearing element is missing from the #6E floor plan).

The back of the loft is, however, a mess, unless you really need 4 bedrooms. There are no photos that show anything in the back (or any bathrooms, for that matter), so it is hard to know how those two lofted areas work in the two southeast corner bedrooms. And I cannot conceive of a reason for having that doorway between the two (former master) bedrooms. That peculiar door (and perhaps the lofts) aside, the rear of #2DE looks exactly like the rear of #6E and #5D, with the result that there is that odd vestigial space outside the two southeast corner bedrooms. I get it that there is a door to the fire stairs there that probably needs to be retained, but there have to be more rational ways to use that back space.

The babble nugget implies that this is where the “ridiculous” potential is centered (a curious locution, that “ridiculous”), for someone with the vision, interest, and budget to erase all the lines back there and start fresh, rather than be stuck with the ten cent combination that retained the old “D” and “E” floor plan back there. I doubt that I will ever find out, but I would love to know what the new owners plan to do to realize that ridiculous potential back in this loft. Perhaps they will spend little up front, and then spend $300/ft to $400/ft on the back end. Even after erasing all the lines, upgrading the bathrooms (there are 4; I can see combining two into a massive master), and custom millwork, they could probably spend less than $600,000 to get a great result.

They may not be able to do anything about much less than dramatic entry to the combined loft. Obviously, the ‘money shot’ is that great room, with its 14 foot beamed ceilings and huge casement windows. Note how long it takes to see that fully after stepping off the elevator. You get an angled view when you come around the laundry room, but you have to clear that (almost free-standing) column before the great room become truly GREAT.

what a rational combo looks like
The new owners (and soon-to-be renovators?) paid their $1,203/ft and probably have another $150/ft in total to spend. They will still have a Long-and-Narrow with windows only front and back.

The guy who used to live next door did his own combo, also got more than the asking price, but was working with a better floor plan and created a much more sensible floor plan. Sharp-eyed Manhattan Loft Guy readers are ahead of me, as they recall my May 10, 2011, The Market corrects too low price for 53 N. Moore Street loft, generates a koan, about the “2,674 sq ft” #2BC, which sold on April 21, 2011 at $3.8mm (ask had been $3.55mm; it took only 56 days to sell, from new listing to closing).

My money quote about #2BC:

At $1,421/ft for “2,674 sq ft”, this #2BC sale is the highest price paid per-foot for any unit here other than the penthouse units with outdoor space, including the three units that sold between July 2007 and August 2008.

I didn’t go into it in that post, but #2BC has a very different physical history than the combined by sponsor #2DE. The guy who bought the (then) “1,407 sq ft” #2C from the sponsor in September 2000 for $698,000 did not buy the (then) “1,282 sq ft” #2B from its original owner until February 2004 (for $1.1mm). He had the huge advantage over #2DE of having a corner (combined) floor plan, and even an easier combination to make work efficiently.

I was wrong in my first attempt to decipher the floor plan as combined. Obviously, the current master bedroom used to be the “B” living room. The old kitchen in that unit was probably in the walk-in closet. I guessed that the original “B” ended after the bedroom next to the (new) master, but they had to do a little more demolition than just opening up that hallway. This floor plan from a #4C rental listing last year shows that the #4C kitchen, entry and 2nd bath jutted into the “B” space, so the dining area in #2BC was a second bedroom in the original #2B.

That stumble aside, this is a delightfully natural and simple combination, getting great utility (the same 4 bedrooms as in the “4,040 sq ft” #2DE, in fact) out of “2,674 sq ft”. The larger loft has that den, and a full 4 baths compared to #2BC’s 3.5, and that massive great room, but it takes 50% more space to get those benefits. Also, note how easy it is to get to any bedroom from the #2BC entry, or from any other part of the loft. In contrast, if those #2DE bedrooms really are used as a separate bedrooms (so that the weird door between the “2 masters” is not used often) note how long a walk it is to the two southeast corner bedrooms from the entry, or from the kitchen to the two southwest corner bedrooms. In both walks, that central core of plumbing + closets gets in the way. maybe someone will do something about that….

return of the koan
Just a brief digression before I go: I can’t link to that May 10, 2011 post without quoting this (still in red) bit of wisdom:

when is a price both too low and perfect?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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