West Village loft that needs a total build-out sells at 59 Barrow Street for $1,190/ft

and renovation ain’t cheap
Among New York real estate broker babble conventions, to start a listing description “bring your imagination” or “bring your architect” or “create a dream loft” are both common and effective ways to manage expectations. The marketing campaign for the “1,932 sq ft” Manhattan loft on the first floor at 59 Barrow Street did that (and more!), succeeding to the tune of selling on December 28 for $2.3mm ($1,190/ft if you remember the blog post title). Add a reasonable budget for a high gut quality renovation, and you are in the $1,500/ft range, all on a West Village block that has too many buildings that are not classic brownstone or brick row houses to be truly quaint; in fact, this is such a quiet West Village block that I am surprised to find lofts on it. But there it is, offered at $2.5mm beginning on June 13 at $2.5mm. And there it went, in contract by September 11 and closed at year end at $2.3mm.

From the first babbling, you cannot miss that this was a major renovation opportunity (my italics):

Bring your imagination and your architect to this absolutely amazing loft-space created by the combination of 3 apartments in the very heart of the West Village. Enter through your very own private entrance from historic, beautiful Commerce Street into two romantic, paneled rooms that lead into an open, soaring space w/ ultra-high 13’4" ceiling’s & that flows all the way to charming Barrow Street. This is a rare property & very rare opportunity that offers the potential to create a true dream loft in one of the most special neighborhoods in NYC and is just steps to all that is magical & wonderful about life downtown.

a funky floor plan, considering that all the lines have been erased
There are no large format photos, and the two photos of the “two romantic, paneled rooms that lead into an open, soaring space” that are provided seem just a tease to sweeten your dreams; the “floor plan” omits any interior walls that form those “romantic, paneled rooms”. One wonders if the floor plan omits prosaic details like a kitchen or bath because they are not present, or because they are irrelevant to a gut renovation (plumbing stacks to be identified, one must assume).

Nor would you know from the floor plan whether the 3 apartments have already been combined, or not. We are given a classic Long-and-Narrow footprint, 25 feet wide at the narrow ends on Barrow Street and on Commerce Street, and nearly 78 feet long, with 3 windows and the building lobby entrance on the west long side, just one (air shaft?) “window to the east.

Did I mention that this is a total gut job (unless you fell in love with the existing romantic green rooms extant, at the Commerce end)? And that you can’t know from the plan where the plumbing can go? But the good news is that this was 3 apartments, so spread around the rectangle are lines for at least 3 bathrooms and 3 kitchens, with surplus for other bathroom configurations.

The major limitation of the space is evident on the floor plan, and presented as lemonade in the babble: the unit is at sidewalk level, with an entrance through the building lobby plus “your very own private entrance from historic, beautiful Commerce Street”. On the one hand, you have the windows-with-bars issue on the front and back; on the other hand, you have the flexibility of using the building lobby on Barrow or the private entrance on Commerce if you prefer not to walk around the block, but to keep that as a choice of two entrances restricts your renovation and decoration options. (If you use that entrance on a day like today, to avoid a cold walk around the block, you’d better have a vestibule or other arrangement to prevent the entire space from getting chilled.)

Did I mention that this is a total gut job, and that someone just paid $1,190/ft for the opportunity to indulge their dreams? Maybe there’s some upside, after renovation, as the 4th floor unit, larger at “2,350 sq ft” and with “four sun lit exposures”, sold 16 months ago (with “a meticulous, stunning renovation”, speaking of babbling conventions) for $3.995mm, or $1,700/ft. Discount the ground floor unit for having, well, ground floor exposures instead of “four sun lit exposures”, and there should still be some upside after a quality build-out on the ground floor.

And the challenge opportunity of having two ground floor entrances, one right on to a (beautiful, even historic) street.

© Sandy Mattingly 2013

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