166 Bank Street loft with 30 year-old river views got for $1,188/ft in far West Village

go figure: Jersey views not as valuable, even with a river
Continuing a sequence of view posts, today’s edition features a loft in pretty primitive condition (like yesterday’s) with major bragging about views (like yesterday’s). Unlike yesterday’s September 13, quintessential artist loft sells for $1,525/ft at 38 Crosby Street, the “2,200 sq ft” Manhattan loft #6A at 166 Bank Street in the far West Village boasted “unobstructed Hudson River views, stunning sunsets and tranquil visions of boats sailing by” (not to mention, views of New Jersey) as opposed to iconic New York views (Empire State & Woolworth Buildings, Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridges, and more). Unlike yesterday’s $1,525/ft for views+renovation-opportunity, loft #6A sold its unobstructed-views+renovation-opportunity for a more modest $1,189/ft.

Partly, its the location (Bank Street ain’t in Soho), but partly is that some views are better (judged as more valuable in the marketplace) than others. Not that you should sneeze at Hudson River views, or New Jersey.

Like yesterday’s loft, you could just move in, but anyone paying upwards of $2.5mm won’t move in to a space that needs as much work to achieve ‘modern’ as these two lofts. In this case, the loft is

a treasure … presented for the first time in over 30 years, offering … the perfect canvas to create their dream home or just move right in!

But the marketing is not very enthusiastic about that “just move right in” option, as only one of the four listing photos is of the loft interior, the kitchen is babbled as “spacious” instead of chef’s, gourmet, or another positive modifier, and the bathrooms are “recently renovated” but not pictured. Every serious buyer assumes that this is a total gut job, subject to being pleasantly surprised if some of the new bathroom work can be retained.

consistency is a virtue, right?
The #6A sellers were trying to push the envelope, starting at $2.995mm on October 5, 2011 before finding the contract (after two price drops) on May 12 at $2.615mm that closed on August 8. That stubborn envelope was comfortable for the January 18 sale of the “2,200 sq ft” #4B at $2.6mm. If anything, #4B has a better floor plan than #6A, with a corner with 4 west windows and 5 north windows; while perhaps less dated than the 30-year-treasure in #6A, there’s not a lot of bragging in the #4B broker babble, and that red tiled fireplace-surround-plus-storage has the (temporary) benefit of matching the furniture but is a very weird and very loud design element. I can’t imagine it survives a renovation.

These two lofts were head-to-head until #4B found its contract on December 1 (while #6A was still holding at $2.995mm), but in the end #6A took longer to get $15,000 more than #4B got.

The good news for efficient market fans is that small spread, well within the range of ‘noise’, with #6A at $1,189/ft and #4B at $1,182/ft/ft.

The last sale in the building before #4B was #3B on September 16, 2010. That loft was marketed as “2,400 sq ft” but has what looks to me like exactly the same footprint as the “2,200 sq ft” #4B; I am going to call it “2,200 sq ft”, so the $2.45mm closing price comes to a soft $1,114/ft. That is a 6% discount to #4B 16 months later, which might be some market noise or some market appreciation or some added value for being one floor higher. Not a tragedy for efficient market fans, either way.

Skipping the penthouse sales and one very chilly nuclear winter sale, the last interesting sale in the building before #3B was #3A on September 17, 2007, 4 months short of The Peak in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. Loft #3A has the same footprint as #6A, the same Hudson River views (from a lower vantage point) but some indication it was in better condition (“cook’s kitchen”!). Efficient market fans are going to love the clearing price of $2.675mm, or $1,216/ft, a mere 2% premium to #6A last month.

See what I mean about #6A having been trying to push the envelope?

deconstructing loft floor plans
I think the #4B better floor plan and the #6A floor plan are both fascinating. You see that oddly shaped second bedroom in #6A. I don’t know these folks or their family structure, but they lived in this treasure for 30 years. My guess is that second bedroom was not there when they built the master. It just cuts into the living room too much for me the place was set up that way. In fact, I would also guess that the “cozy den/office” near the entrance was probably the first place they planted a kid (in the dark, but that’s a common planting plan), then added the “second” bedroom when they needed more bed space. Just guessing, remember, but don’t those walls look weird?

In #4B, my guess is that it started as a One Bed Wonder, with a huge master bedroom taking up that whole northeast corner, probably with two doors. When the need arose for a second bedroom, they carved it out of the corner, resulting in that weird set of angles, collection of doors, and a second bedroom without a closet..

Lofts are fun. I am not entirely confident I am right in my guesswork, but I have seen a great many lofts that have floor plans and room arrays that can only be understood as incremental responses to changing family space needs. Over 30 years, there could be a lot of changes. What started out as an extravagant amount of space for one or two adults, gets sliced and pulled to accommodate more (small) bodies.

That’s my theory; what’s yours?

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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