gutting Broome Street for $160/ft

bringing light but hiding windows?
Yesterday’s New York Times On Location Home & Garden feature Bringing Light to a New York Loft profiled a Broome Street total renovation ("gutted to its floor joists and beams and totally rebuilt — with plumbing, electricity and other systems"). The loft is a classically Long-and-Narrow with ceilings high enough to stack guest rooms over the kitchen and baths. The Times headline is a play off the fact that the space had been very dark (with a rabbit warren of rooms and black paint) but is a weird angle to take about a renovation project that essentially cuts off a lot of light.

The architect’s website has another set of photos, the soho loft residential project, with this description of the project:

A "functional wall" was created along one side of the 16′ high ceilinged space to house the bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen below and the guest rooms and extra storage above. The layout included new landmarks approved windows, plumbing, electrical, finishes, etc. Walnut panels and blackened steel windows and doors delineate the different spaces and create the new rooms.
 (Curiously, the Times reported the ceiling height as 14 feet.)

It took me a while in reading the pictures in the Times and on the architect’s website before I realized where the long wall of windows that is evidentfrom the building photo (#2 of 11 in the Times slide show) is. Perhaps distracted by the Times headline, I assumed that part of the architect’s challenge was to bring light into the space from the narrow ends (the living space in Times slide 5 and the master bedroom in slide 6 are depicted much better on the Kelloggwebsite in pix 1, 2 and 5 — those are huge windows at either end). Slide 10 from the Times shows some kind of storage, evidently behind that "functional wall" with a different size window than the living room or bedroom windows — indicating that that functional wall blocks the main spaces from the side windows.

For some reason, the owner and architects decided to put that functional wall on the long wall of windows rather than along the brick wall opposite the long wall of windows. An interesting choice that was not motivated by a desire to "bring light into the loft".

surprising cost
This is the second-most surprising fact reported in the Times: "Gutted to its floor joists and beams, it took just five months to build, and cost $320,000." For a loft reported as 2,000 square feet, that is a mere $160/ft! I bet Diana Kellogg’s phone is ringing off the hook….
surprising usage
The most surprising fact reported by the Times is in this sentence: "he bought his new loft for $1.5 million in 2006, it presented a grim face, having been painted black and honeycombed, S.R.O.-style, with homemade rooms the previous owner rented out". I am not surprised by the 2006 price of $750/ft for a raw Soho loft, but by the fact that this small coop building (it has been a coop since 1981) permitted theprevious owner to rent out little rooms as late as three years ago. Very weird.

© Sandy Mattingly 2009  


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