3 Hanover Square seller of small loft puts her design name on the line, comes up big

in relative terms
At first blush, the fact that the “700 sq ft” Manhattan mini-loft #9E at 3 Hanover Square sold for $612,000 seems like little to brag about; after all, $874/ft for a well-dressed (“true designer loft apartment”) seems like nothing you’d want to associate your name with. But the numbers are actually quite strong for this very early residential coop conversion (1970s) and it is the seller who most wanted to associate her name with the loft, feeling that it would help marketing:

opportunity to own a true designer loft apartment. Owned by Felicitas Oefelein of F O DESIGN and HomeDesignRx this coop loft was originally designed by her firm in 1999. In 2011 it was again extensively remodeled with luxury upgrades such as heated floors and a Starck soaking tub in the bath room, Viking appliances in the kitchen and custom millwork for incredible storage throughout. … 11 foot ceilings, a Bosch washing machine, a GE built in wine cooler, custom millwork, radiant base heat, a new kitchen and bath room, terrazzo and oak floors, Flos and Artemide light fixtures throughout and much much more. The open city views and southern exposure ensure bright light throughout the day.

It strikes me as an odd bit of broker babble to note that the seller renovated in 1999 and again in 2011 (if it is substantially new in 2011 who cares what it looked like, for how long, before?), but maybe this is a subtle way of implying that the seller cared so much about her environment (soon to be yours, lucky buyer!) that she took it to the top of then-contemporary design standards not just once, but twice. Or perhaps this is just a bargain brokerage giving editorial control to the seller.

Whatever, the marketing was objectively successful, though it took some time: to market at $628,000 on March 2, 2012, in contract  by September 18, and closed at that $618,000 (a nominal discount) on November 29. A deal at 98.4% of the original (sole) ask is pretty successful, right?

the neighbors are jealous
That somewhat extended marketing effort for loft #9E overlapped with the entire campaign for loft #8D, which came to market on June 28 at $695,000, found a contract more quickly (August 6), and closed on November 20. That babble sounds a lot like that of #9E, without the personal branding of that seller/designer:

mint condition … gut renovated ….Chef’s kitchen includes a Hans-Grohe faucet with water filtration, Franke fixtures, 36-inch Subzero refrigerator, Wolfe Stove, Miele D/W, custom maple cabinetry, stand alone island with storage, granite countertops[,] an adjacent granite bar ….[and] marble floors. The extra large bathroom features a corner Kohler soaking tub, a 5.5 ft granite vanity top, marble floors, a Philippe Stark sink, Franke and Hans-Grohe fixtures. … double plank, 5-inch oak floors throughout. The ceiling height is 11.2FT. The entire loft features quartz lighting w/ custom made soffets …. All windows have been replaced. … excellent light, with North and West exposures. The abundant closets are oufitted for maximum usage.

If you clicked through to the listing you already know that #8D sold for $625,000, a tiny but real $7,000 premium over #9E, after only 6 weeks to get the contract. But you already noticed that #8D is “900 sq ft”, significantly larger (at this scale) than the “700 sq ft” #9E. On a dollar per foot basis, #9E was $874/ft compared to #8D at $694/ft. Enough of a spread to make the #8D seller jealous, in fact.

Note that there is nothing shabby about the finishes in #8D, including the proliferation of proper proper names and materials. At some level, of course, aesthetics are personal judgments about taste, but The Market verdict is that the designer/seller in #9E did a better job with design than whoever was responsible for the gutty and minty work in #8D, by a significant degree. After all, isn’t it obvious that every single buyer interested in #8D over those 6 weeks would also have seen #9E?

Both lofts are small as lofts, but decently sized in the “one bedroom apartment” niche; both are objectively well-dressed. Yet the much smaller one (on this scale, 200 sq ft is huge) sold at 98.9% of the price of the larger one. I’d be jealous, particularly if I was the #8D designer.

The former Cotton Exchange is a warren of small spaces, having been converted long enough ago that the target market excluded not only families but couples or singles who wanted a lot of space. The StreetEasy building page shows that 11 of the last 20 sales here do not even make the $500,000 cut-off for inclusion on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008, mostly of units under “600 sq ft”. Some of these sales are at appallingly low values: #9B at $489/ft would have you wondering ‘what year are we in?’, though it closed (presumably in close to original 1970s condition) only 11 months ago.

Before #9E and #8D, the last similarly sized 1-bedroom sold was #3F on August 20, 2012 at $567/ft. See why the neighbors would be jealous of #9E? Rather, it is the former sellers who might be jealous, as far away from $874/ft they are. Current owners are probably pleased, as the #9E sale may someday move from clear outlier today, to a more achievable upper limit available to well-dressed mini-lofts, to (in how many years?) a realistic goal.

what do people worry about living in the FiDi canyons?
Stop and reflect on those dollar-per-foot values from 2012: $874/ft as a not quite building record (this 2007 penthouse is the only sale I see higher), $694/ft for a gut renovated contemporaneous sale, scaling down to $567/ft, and descending to the Hades of $489/ft. All in 2012. Clearly, this Manhattan loft micro-neighborhood has a serious market discount.

Transportation access is hardly an issue down here, with a great many different subway lines and stops with not much Manhattan to share them with. If you thought it must be noisy or dark down here among Manhattan’s iconic canyons, look at the part of #9E broker babble I omitted (as I customarily omit the neighborhood descriptions to reduce the size of my block quote babbling):

The historic apartment building with its beautiful limestone facade is located at Hanover square, and is a full service coop building with 23 floors. The building is in close proximity to all public transportation, bustling restaurants on historic Stone Street and many amenities. …The open city views and southern exposure ensure bright light throughout the day. The apartment overlooks Williams Street and is on the 9th floor and very quiet.

Light … views … quiet, in a full service coop with great subway access, adjacent to the character on Stone Street. All at huge discounts to any other Manhattan loft neighborhood. For small space buyers to whom FiDi is not a huge obstacle, there is significant bang for few bucks here.

Go south, young man. And young woman. And other persons priced out of more traditionally residential Manhattan neighborhoods.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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