there are spectacular Manhattan loft renovations, then there’s this 54 East 11 Street loft renovation

… and The Market loved the Village loft renovation!

I really appreciated the renovation … er … cosmetic upgrade in that celebrity loft I hit yesterday, one on which so many characters were typed wondering about Bang For The Buck. (That’s my June 4, million dollar renovation at 144 West 27th Street?, obvs.) But I love the renovation of the Manhattan loft on the 5th floor at 54 East 11 Street (Atheneum House), just to the west of Grace Church in the central Village. I’m a little surprised by the depth of my ardor, as it lacks classic loft elements that I generally swoon over, such as columns and beams, and (relatedly) has a dropped ceiling, which I usually view as a missed opportunity. But there are bricks aplenty for us classic Manhattan loft snobs, and enough wood to delight my eye, even within the very sleek kitchen and bath finishes. I’m not the only one who loved it: someone just paid $305,000 over ask to own it (asking $3.995mm since February 4, it found that contract by March 2, and closed for $4.3mm on April 6).

Looks like we have (probably) bigger bucks spent here on East 11th Street than on West 27th Street, and (almost certainly) a much bigger bang.

We lack photos in the Before condition, on StreetEasy and in our listing system, but we know it sold four years ago for $1.925mm with a listing description that neither said anything about finishes nor directly implied this was then a renovation project. We know it had this floor plan:

a One Bed Wonder! note that the plumbing is all along the west wall

The footprint is classic Manhattan loft Long-and-Narrow, not so narrow at 22 feet wide, in this case with the flexibility of four west windows not used. (If you only need one bedroom, you only need one bedroom, no matter how large the space.)

The 2011 buyers certainly needed more than one bedroom, so they made this out of that classic Manhattan loft Long-and-Narrow footprint:

2 of the 4 west windows are used for BRs, with the baths moved to the east wall

You’re not supposed to say “family” in a listing description (for anti-discrimination concerns that are, to me, vastly overblown in this context), but I can use that description of the loft, as configured and pictured. After all, it takes a family to use this area (described on the floor plan, somewhat hilariously, as “play area / office”):

Note To Self: add slide and treehouse to my home office

And while you don’t need a family to make wonderful use of “a 23 foot floating Corian island” as kitchen / dining space, it certainly helps to have a brood for every meal, including at breakfast in the adjoining “breakfast room” that comfortably seats five:

babbling a Greenwich Village loft without restraint, without my usual ellipses

Regular readers of Manhattan Loft Guy know that I usually delete the more … er … poetic elements of broker babble when recounting in this blog the features of a loft. I will make an exception in this case, even to the point of italicizing parts that I usually leave out, as in this instance the listing description offers a perspective that I value:

ceilings of approx. 12ft and custom designed metal & English white oak bookshelves set against an exposed brick wall. Opposite the bookshelves is an 18 foot wide media platform also of white oak. This space gets strong even light throughout the day from 4 oversized north facing windows. The balance between materials such as wood, metal and glass creates the perfect soothing and modern environment. Adding to this tranquility is the lack of noise on this stretch of 11th street between Broadway and University Place.The living space flows uninterrupted into the dining & kitchen area which is dominated with a 23 foot floating Corian island. This island was custom built inside the apartment to be seamless and functions as a dining table and kitchen workspace — perfectly configured to balance casual home living with larger, more formal gatherings. Top quality appliances and finishes were used throughout the loft, and in the kitchen they include; Miele stovetop, Verona oven, Liebherr refrigerator, MGS faucets, a Julien sink and a Luceplan Hope lighting fixture. The far end of the kitchen has a charming seating banquet for quick meals and is lighted by 2 more large windows. Opposite this eating nook is a customized child’s play area with a built-in fort/treehouse. If this use of the alcove is not appropriate for your lifestyle it can easily be transformed into a home office.The second half of the apartment houses a guest washroom, 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths as well as a full-size laundry room. To compare these private quarters to a resort like a Mandarin or Four Seasons would be an understatement — the quality of the stones, wood and hardware used exceed that of the finest hotels. Space has been maximized in all parts of the apartment delivering abundant storage that is fully integrated into the layout without effecting the modern sensibility throughout. The master bedroom is the oasis you will by now expect to find with a continuation of the various wood and stone textures that make the entire home so unique. The millwork in the bedrooms is hand crafted walnut, the light is supplied by a Linestra lamp and a Discoco pendant light — all in addition to the 4 large southern facing windows. As you enter the master bathroom you are transported to a Zen-like spa where you are introduced to a Terramai teak wood lined wet area consisting of a Davinci Collection shower and Zuma Wetstyle tub. The double vanity has MGS & Fantini Milano faucets and the Kerasan toilet is wall mounted.The amount of detail that has gone into this masterful renovation is impossible to capture in pictures — in order to fully experience the beauty, tranquility and sophistication of this home you must come see it all in person.

I am truly sorry never to have seen this loft in real life, as I can readily appreciate that the photos don’t do it justice. Careful readers will note that I started this excerpt just after the broker babble used the cliche “gracious living space”, but, that misdemeanor aside, the listing description makes the sort of promises that are easy to measure in real life, and that will be held against the agent (worse, against the loft and its value) if the promises are not kept. So I can easily assume that the quality of this work, while suggested by the photos, in fact, is the equal far exceeds the quality of finishes and materials in the best hotels. (The $305,000 premium to ask is additional support.)

calling a bath a “Zen-like spa” is only a cliche if it’s not *really* a Zen-like spa; this one might well be

I can’t leave the loft without showing the main listing photo, the one that first made my heart soar in loft lust:

though not a fan of dropped ceilings … ooo-la-la!

It helps (a lot!) to have 22 feet across to work with, 12 foot ceilings to work under, and thigh-to-ceiling windows … but then you have to deliver a lovely loft. Signed, sealed, and delivered! At $1,954/ft in a no-frills coop, off the Gold Coast.

playing Guess The Budget!

I toyed yesterday with bang-for-the-buck numbers to assess the market impact of a truly lovely (if limited) renovation, hoping (for The High Kicker’s sake) that the budget on West 27th Street was $300/ft rather than $400/ft. Hard to see how all the work on the 5th floor at 54 East 11th Street was done for less than $400/ft, right? (Maybe more.)

Even at $400/ft, however, this renovation more than earned its keep. Adding that renovation budget to the 2011 purchase price ($880,000 + $1.925mm = $2.805mm) and adjusting for time (per the StreetEasy Manhattan Condo Index, up 29% since June 2011), you’d expect the 5th floor loft to be worth a bit more than $3.6mm.

This just in from the Department of the Glaringly Obvious: $4.3mm is quite a bit more than $3.6mm. So if the guess of a $400/ft budget is correct, and if the StreetEasy Index provides a valid way to adjust for time, the 5th floor renovation added about $1.77 in value for every $1 in renovation expense. Bang for buck!

Bounce the budget up to $500/ft, for [redacted] and giggles …. Adjust the baseline ($1.1mm + $1.925mm = $3.025mm)  for time, to a bit more than $3.9mm. See the report from the Department of the Glaringly Obvious, still vividly valid at this level. Bang for buck!

Try the same math games at $600/ft, I dare ya. (Hint: there’s still six figures in added value from this renovation.)

I not only love this loft aesthetically, I admire it arithmetically. Sigh.

what will the neighbors think?

When the 5th floor loft came on the market in February, the last closed sale in the building was a very nice, very light 7th floor loft, which (our system reveals) closed for $3,787,000 in November 2013. That broker babble is not quite as enthusiastic or persuasive as the set of 5th floor promises quoted so extensively above, but the 7th floor has “historic City views” and six more west windows than the 5th floor. Adjusting only for time (again with the help of the StreetEasy Index), the 7th floor would have been worth about $4.2mm had it come to market with the 5th floor in February. How much more is the 7th floor light, views and windows worth, and how much more is the 5th floor condition worth? (The finishes are very different, much more ‘classic’ on the 7th floor, but darn it, I prefer the 5th floor.) I dunno, and I am not going to guess.

It will be interesting to see where new owners on lower floors soon set values for one very rustic, very brick-y, very well-finished-if-to-your-taste loft, and for another loft, perhaps not as nicely dressed. There’s also the matter of a penthouse project “with numerous possibilities” (and with solaria but no outdoor space) to be valued by The Market, eventually. In a 10-unit coop, there should be a great deal of 2015 market data, instead of the single $1,954/ft data point extant.

My guess is that the 5th floor will hold its building record into 2016. I will now wipe my keyboard of any telltale drool.


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  1. […] more value than even the tasteful (and successful) sellers that I hit in my June 5 post, there are spectacular Manhattan loft renovations, then there’s this 54 East 11 Street loft renovat…, and much more value than the sellers in my June 11,spectacular renovation of Village penthouse […]

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