55 Liberty Street loft sells at $785/ft, up (only) 8% since 2004

an acquired taste, acquired slowly

I get it that the downtown-est part of downtown Manhattan is not a hot hot hot area for residential sales (lofts or otherwise), but the Greater FiDi has seen a lot of new condo and rentals on the last 5 years. With more people making the choice to live down there, you’d think that services would be improving, and that more people would want to live down there. (Or, that more people would be willing ot consider the value proposition of living down there compared to living in ‘central’ or ‘northern’ downtown [Tribeca or Chelsea, for example]). The recent sale of the “1,114 sq ft” Manhattan loft #19B at 55 Liberty Street (Liberty Tower) is but a single data point in an ocean of data, yet it screams “uhhh … not so much.”

Liberty Tower is one of my favorite residential loft conversions in the Greater FiDi, as much for its exterior beauty and beautiful lobby as for the relative value for space here. (176 Broadway is another Manhattan Loft Guy fave, but [no offense] that is mostly because of the space-for-dollar calculation.) Loft #19B exemplifies why: with “1,114 sq ft” it has a 1-bedroom floor plan easily convertible to 2-bedrooms, leaving a main living space that is a healthy 33’5” x 19’6” with corner exposures east and south with “ fabulous city views”. Maintenance is a bit high at $1,951/mo but you do get a full-time doorman for that.

Loft #19B had a more difficult time on the market than I would have anticipated, especially given that the recent sellers bought in September 2004 for $810,000:

July 5, 2011 new to market $949,000
Aug 17   $925,000
Oct 19 contract  
Jan 23, 2012 sold $875,000

As you already know from the headline, or can easily estimate, that is a gain of only 8% over those 7+ years, starting from well before Peak pricing in the overall Manhattan residential real estate market. In the 7+ years the recent sellers owned loft #19B, new developments began at a host of nearby buildings, including 15 Broad Street, 90 William Street, 80 John Street, 59 John Street, 20 Pine Street, and (who could forget?) 15 William Street. All the new neighbors usually improve values for more pioneering stock in buildings like 55 Liberty Street, but that did not happen with loft #19B.

we’ve been here before, with better results
My May 28, 2010, 55 Liberty Street closes as if 2007, progress of a sort, touched on the sale that month of #11D, which closed at essentially the price of its last sale in 2007. Since that prior sale of #11D was on December 28, 2007 that 2010 resale was at The Peak for all but the most anal of observers.

I’ve not done enough digging into the building sales history to attempt top quantify the run-up to the Peak in percentage terms, but #11D clearing in May 2010 at Peak value is much more impressive than #19B clearing in January 2011 up 8% over 2004 values.

a soft spot for Manhattan commercial architecture?
The last time I hit a Liberty Tower sale I gushed over the building, having tracked the 1980 conversion architect for other purposes (in Tribeca, as you will see in that post if you are interested in a digression too far). I can’t do better than quoting my August 31, 2010, pricing right to (yes!) sell quickly at 55 Liberty Street:

Unless you have no soft spot in your heart for classic New York commercial architecture, you should at least appreciate (if not adore) Liberty Tower. It was for a short time the tallest building in the world (from 1909 until the 1913 Woolworth building), and had been headquarters for the Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation (was that Dino the dinosaur??) . I was wondering whether the style was Gothic, until I read that answer in the #5B babble, in which even the language is Gothic [archaic?]:  "the 380 foot high building was designed in modified Gothic style, adorned with carved stone eagles perched thereon". Thereon???

I am not the only Liberty Tower fanboy. Broker babble here notes that “[i]In 2010 the New York Landmarks Conservancy awarded Liberty Tower the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award which recognizes outstanding preservation and restoration efforts”.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply