bridge & river views not priceless at 170 John Street loft, flat with 2007

let’s not quibble, shall we?
The “1,362 sq ft” duplex Manhattan loft #PH-C at 170 John Street (the Ships Chandlery) that just sold for $1.1mm last sold on June 8, 2007 for $1.115mm*. In round numbers, the two sales were even, from just 2 quarters shy of The Peak to now. Card-carrying members of the Parity With 2007 Market Party will be pleased that they can still rally ‘round the flag planted in my September 27, 2011, is the Manhattan loft market back to (up to) 2007? 61 repeat sales say “probably”, “a bit”.

I have to assume that there is quite a location penalty associated with this loft, as it features a lovely interior (a renovated kitchen, 2 renovated marble baths, fireplace, and “beautiful” wood paneling; “sunblasted”, per a former listing), a private terrace of “175 sq ft”, and “gorgeous views of the Brooklyn Bridge and East River”, all on a lovely cobblestoned street just steps from the river. All this for $808/ft, unadjusted for the terrace. Taking the terrace as worth 50% of the interior space (as it has direct access from the interior and is of very modest size, two factors in favor of a relatively high valuation per The Miller’s rubrics), the adjusted value is ballparked at a mere $761/ft.

why the bottom of the barrel?
There is $/ft data for about 85 downtown Manhattan loft resales since December 1 on the Master List of Manhattan Lofts Sold Since November 2008; all but two are at higher $/ft values. Even the 3rd floor walk-up total gut job that I hit in my February 21, Soho gut job for $762/ft, as 81 Grand Street loft sells after 14 months, 5 price drops cleared at a higher level.

That is quite a location penalty, especially as it is “located opposite the innovative Imagination Playground designed by David Rockwell”.

The adjusted value of $761/ft is not the only way to tell that The Market did not love this loft:

April 11, 2011 new to market** $1.3mm
April 12   $1.35mm
Aug 5   $1.298mm
Sept 20   $1.28mm
Oct 14 change firms $1.199mm
Dec 6 contract**  
Jan 30, 2012 sold $1.1mm

(**omitting the false start before April 11 on StreetEasy and adding the contract date from the inter-firm data-base)

That is 5 prices, 8 months, and 2 firms to contract. Not exactly snapped up.

it has to be a loft, right?
The first 2011 marketing campaign included this not very loft-like bit of broker babble: “very high prewar 9’8" ceilings“. Under 10 feet is certainly not “very high” to a loft snob like Manhattan Loft Guy. But the key part of that snipped babble is the modifier “prewar”; maybe I missed the irony, but the war that this building is “pre” is the Civil War. In 1840, 9’8" ceilings may have been very high at the top of a ships chandlery.

170 John Street meets the core of my criteria for what makes a loft a “loft”: it has been re-purposed as residential space after starting life in an industrial or manufacturing role. Even though it does not have the large footprint, high ceilings or large windows typical of classic loft buildings built 70 to 90 years later. Indeed, were it not a “1,362 sq ft” duplex, this space would comprise two of the mini-est of mini-lofts, at 681 sq ft each.

But an 1840 ships chandlery just steps from the East River has to be considered a Manhattan loft building, once converted to residential usage. And so it is.

There is a weird additional payment of $35,000 5 weeks after that 2007 sale in the Streeteasy record, so it is possible that the real difference between the 2007 and 2012 sales was a more significant 4.34% decline. I don’t know why there would be two payments reflected in the city records, but I suspect that the second (small) one was for furnishings of some sort, not the condo unit itself.

© Sandy Mattingly 2012


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