“quintessential” 249 Church Street loft has quintessential Tribeca sales history

tripping down memory lane
If memory serves, the “1,588 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the 3rd floor of 249 Church Street (aka 65 Leonard Street) that just sold for $2mm has the exact same floor plan as when I visited it often over a 10 year period many, many years ago. The angled wall between the (interior) bedroom and the (added since then) office used to display many major league baseball caps and store thousands of CDs. A long dining room table sat exactly where this one does, but I can’t remember the interiors of the kitchen or baths. (A mind is, indeed, a terrible thing to waste.)

I will see the former owner tonight, as luck would have it, and will test her memory about her old loft. I know she will remember sitting at the sidewalk tables at El Teddy’s on West Broadway, sipping on specialty margarita’s, back when that was a trendy thing to do. But I digress ….

a hazy sense of space
The sponsor sold the loft in 1986 with the kitchen in that corner, leaving no place for a true (windowed) second bedroom without dramatically reducing the sense of space in that corner living room, despite the two long walls of windows. It was, and remains, a very grown-up layout, only tempting families that will raise a child without bedroom windows. (And, if that is an interior “bedroom”, both bathrooms are en suite, forcing guests to traipse through someone’s bedroom to use the facilities) With so many windows, and so much space, this loft is a little unusual in that way.

But there’s not quite the space you’d infer from the broker babble. There is nothing inaccurate about saying “This generous size loft, fully takes advantage of the large building exterior of 41′ x 50′, a 2050 sq ft approx. gross amount per floor”, as the babble does. It’s just that the amount of space on the floor is not as relevant to an owner (or potential owner) than the space within the walls of the loft. The number associated with the deed record on StreetEasy is usually taken from the Condo Declaration and matches the city tax records; in this case, that number is “1,588 sq ft”, rather less generous than “2,055 sq ft”. (Property Shark agrees, for those who can access this building page.)

I imagine that a lot of buyers who get distracted by the “2,050” in the listing description would find themselves scratching their heads when tey visit the space, wondering where all that space went.

how valuable is a true second bedroom?
The 4th floor loft has the same footprint and window array, but stole a half window from the master and a window from the living room (compared to the 3rd floor) to create a windowed second bedroom. With a “den / bedroom” in addition, there is greater utility but less charm in this efficient floor plan than on the floor below. It is hard to tell from the babble and pix if the 4th floor is in better condition than the 3rd, but the 4th floor sold for $2.15mm in June 2011, a premium of $150,000 to the 3rd floor last month.

It appears that the agents who sold the 4th floor believed that the 3rd floor was worth about the same as the 4th, second bedroom or no, as they brought the 3rd floor to market on April 20 at $2.2mm. Only after 8 weeks did they drop to $2.1mm, and another 6 weeks before they found a contract at $2mm. What’s interesting about that spread is it has not always been going in that direction.

I know that the 3rd floor has had the same basic floor plan for 25 years. Our listing system has a listing description, photos and a floor plan for the 4th floor loft as long ago as 2002, showing the same layout as when it sold last year. Yet when these two lofts both sold in 2005, it was the 3rd floor that earned a premium, selling at $1,695,000 on March 30, 2005 to the 4th floor at $1,587,500 on January 28, 2005. That spread of 6.8% in favor of the 3rd floor in 2005 has since flipped to a spread of 7.5% in favor of the 4th floor (using the 2011 and 2012 sales as a pair).

Worse (from the perspective of a rational market), the two prior times these two lofts sold show that the advantage was probably even larger in favor of the 3rd floor bedroom+den layout compared to the 2-BR+den 4th floor. With that same layout, as reflected in our listing system, the 4th floor sold for $960,000 in July 2003. But the 3rd floor sold for $999,000 two and a half years earlier, in December 2000.

we’ve been here before
Sharp-eyed readers will recall that I hit the 4th floor sale back when it was fresh, in my July 27, 2011, scion sells strong, as 249 Church Street loft gains 35% over 2005, in a post that related that sale to an unsuccessful marketing campaign for the 3rd floor in 2008. You’ll see there that I could not reconcile the lack of success of the 3rd floor in 2008 to the success of the 4th floor in 2011, finally taking refuge as a scoundrel. You will also see there the (minor!) celebrity who sold the 4th floor last year and the link to the clever New York Observer account of the sale.

that quintessential sales history
I will have to ask my friend tonight if she remembers what she paid for the 3rd floor in 1986, as I don’t see that publicly recorded anywhere. But the history of the 3rd floor after then is not surprising for a busy (non-prime) corner in Tribeca; to be pedantic, this history being not surprising is what makes it quintessential:

  • April 30, 1996 $450,000
  • Dec 11, 2000 $999,000
  • Mar 30, 2005 $1.695mm
  • Oct 2, 2012 $2mm

My, how the neighborhood has grown up! (Even with El Teddy’s gone.)

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

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