smackdown at 3,000+ sq ft + $2.7mm / 118 E 25 vs. 116 W 29

one of these things is not like the other (agent prose and listing pix aside)
I visited these two lofts within a few days of each other. On the surface, they look pretty similar: both are rather large full-floor lofts in 12 story coops that were likely built as industrial spaces 80+ years ago, both are “wonderful” for entertaining, both accommodate “live/work”, both have direct passenger and freight elevator access, both claim four exposures and four bedrooms, both have laundry rooms, both are just outside “real” neighborhoods on somewhat tacky blocks nearby nicer blocks. They are essentially the same price and maintenance. Both appear to be inhabited by owners in the art world.
 The 8th floor at 116 West 29 Street, offered by Lori McNichol at PruDE, is said to be 3,000 sq ft of a “magnificent” floor through loft with 26 “tremendous” windows. Asking $2.7mm with $2,491 in maintenance.
The 3rd floor at 118 East 25 Street, offered by Richard Healy at Halstead, is said to be 3,500 sq ft of a “magnificent” floor through loft. Asking $2.695mm and $2,464 in maintenance.
They could hardly be more different. (“Magnificent” has its limits.)
truly tremendous light in a classic artist loft
116 W 29 St does have tremendous light, with large windows that capture open city views that include the EmpireStateBuilding. That aside, this unit is primitive where the other is polished. It gives the impression of having been renovated 25 years ago to suit the living and work needs of someone in the arts world, and has hardly been touched since then.
The (original?) kitchen – on a (rough plywood?) platform raised for gas and plumbing lines to pass under — is workman-like, at best. At this price, the kitchen is a gut renovation project for most buyers. Some storage has rough curtains rather than doors. Some design elements are rough wood, such as that curved thing on the floor plan. One bathroom is beautiful and modern, and stands out in the unit as a result. The pictures do not give a true sense of the ‘feel’ of this loft; nor does the agent’s prose.
Having said all that, it is a large amount of space with great light and views that could be a “magnificent” loft. It may have served its owner very well for many, many years, but it does not compare to other lofts that could be described as “magnificent”. It can be great space for the buyer who wants space at the right price. Hard to say this is the right price.
tough block, in between
The location – on a very busy commercial street directly behind The Cass Gilbert – provides fair access to services (which will improve with the monster rental towers along 6th Avenue nearby) but will be a challenge for many buyers.
This loft is not quite in Chelsea and certainly not in Flatiron. You could call it the Flower District if there were any reasonable prospect that the wholesale flower dealers who have been here for 75 years would be able to stay in the neighborhood.
yes, a magnificent loft
118 E 25 St technically has four exposures, yes, but few people would likely walk out thinking that was four exposures. (One exposure is from small windows in a laundry and a bathroom; one is from two large windows in a dark airshaft; one is the dark rear mid-block ‘view’ of nearby buildings.) The front windows are both large and light, however.
But this is quibbling. Except for someone who has to have great light with views, this loft is far superior in finishes to its competition on W 29 St.
bragging rights
Where W 29 St had a pedestrian kitchen at best, this one is justifiably bragged about by the agent: “Huge Eat In Chef’s Kitchen w/ Siematic German Cabinetry, Top Line Appliances, Solid Granite Counters and Breakfast Table”. Where W 29 St had only one beautiful bathroom, this unit has three worth talking about (“Bathrooms w/ Stunning Solid Italian Marble/Tavertine Walls And Floors, Radiant Heating, Custome Grohe Hardware”; the stonework is “stunning”). Where W 29 St had some storage best described as “handyman specials”, this one has “Fantastic Walk-In Closets”.
Although the loft does get great north light over the Armory, the current layout does not make this a “light-filled” loft. This can be changed easily, however, with the removal of a small stretch of non-load-bearing wall. Other small partitions are also easily removed, which would reduce the somewhat meandering feel to the flow of the loft.
Funny thing is, the pictures don’t really give a true sense of the feel of this loft either, but in this case the experience is far superior than projected from the photographs. For this one, if you don’t love the stone work in the kitchen and baths, please don’t buy it and rip it out. The demo workers will get hernias carrying it out and you would destroy something designed and executed beautifully.
tough block, in between
This block is not so busy, with the Armory directly across the street and Madison Square interrupting the westward flow of traffic a block and half away, bit it is not pretty.
This is too far north to be Flatiron or Gramercy, too far east to be Murray Hill. It will soon be known as Madison Square, what with all the multi-million dollar lofts sprouting up east and north of MadisonSquarePark.
the space per dollar equations seem to be off
At least one of these units is priced wrong. Judging from the fact that 116 E 25 St has already had a price drop (from $2.875mm) and has been available since March, this one may be still too high for the market. But if it is, then 116 W 29 St is even more off the mark, even though it has only been offered for two months.
116 W 29 St has open houses Wednesday from 12:30 to 2 and Sunday from 11 to 12:30.
© Sandy Mattingly 2006
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