window shopping the loft aesthetic at 143 Reade + 421 W 54 St with NY Times

“harbingers of … a refreshing return to an aesthetic that celebrates the qualities of loft living”
Suzanne Slesin’s ‘Window Shopping’ feature in this past Sunday’s NY Times Real Estate section, Two Loft Conversions, Two Points of View, reviews her visits to two current loft conversions, which she found to be refreshing harbingers.
Both Artisan Lofts at 143 Reade St (now 157 Chambers) and The Hit Factory at 421 W 54 Street are uber-lofts with – as she put it – “a long list of expensive amenities in both buildings lets us know right away that we are in the “I can’t live without these luxuries” era” but she found enough classic loft elements “that recall the authenticity of what loft living represented not so long ago: soaring 11-foot ceilings, lots of stainless steel and rough-hewn planks in well-integrated, multifunctional spaces for cooking, dining and living”.
It is not clear from the article whether the finishes she saw at Artisan Lofts will be the same throughout the building, but she was intrigued by the kitchen (“masculine yet funky, fanciful yet brooding”, with “chunky walnut cabinets, walnut-clad appliances, woven butcher-block counters edged in iron hardware dotted with big screws”) and both intrigued and seduced by the Ann Sachs-designed “brave ad unusual”  bathrooms.
what does a PR person do after this?
God bless journalism … she described the view at one Hit Factory loft offered just under $1,000/ft as “appalling”. She also described a master bedroom in another unit (measuring 17’5” x 11’9”) as “strange and narrow”. She generally described the north and west views in the building as “miserable”.
too many rooms, too little ‘space’?
Overall, she was a bit sad about these modern loft conversions.
Although the developers of both the Artisan Lofts and the Hit Factory base their marketing strategies on their buildings’ industrial provenance, the evocative sense of open space that made the loft lifestyle such a liberating alternative is somewhat compromised.
Perhaps this is a natural evolution. Rough, raw spaces are rare, and loft living does not belong exclusively to artists anymore. Since I wasn’t planning on becoming a painter, sculptor or even an indie filmmaker in the near future, that may be just as well.
how uber are these lofts?
Artisan Lofts will have 38 units, whose common charges will support (a) a rotating gallery exhibition In the lobby, (b) not just a gym but a “Wellness Center”, (c) a children’s “Imagination Center” with play space and theater stage, and (d) a roof garden. And a concierge, of course.
We show 12 units as having signed contracts or accepted offers, with another 12 currently for sale. The building website (not the quickest site to load) shows common charges ranging from $1,249/mo for the 1,500 sq ft unit 6B (asking $2.25mm, pix and floor plan on Corcoran here) up to $2,839/mo for the 2,935 sq ft unit Tower 17N (asking $7.25mm, pix and floor plan on Corcoran here). Taxes are – of course – additional: even with a J-51 abatement, monthly taxes range from $849 to $2,896.
evoking open space?
The #6B floor plan takes advantage of the big windows to provide a sense of ‘space’, since the rooms are arrayed in traditional fashion. Yes, you will see “classic” lofts with rooms and walls like these, but in most classic lofts the walls are not load bearing and the flooring runs under the walls. I don’t know how these new lofts are built, but I suspect that the walls are where the walls are, and more extensive work will be required to open them up than in a classic loft.
The Hit Factory (building website here) doesn’t have the same bling as Artisan Lofts (they certainly are not bragging in the same way), with most prices just over $1,000/ft (the neighborhood discount is a big factor at 54th Street west of 9th Avenue). Common charges and taxes are radically different than at Artisan Lofts in Tribeca: Unit 3G is said to be 1,237 sq ft, asking $1.325mm with $739/mo in common charges and $1,318/mo in taxes. They layout is much more “apartment” than “loft” (see the #3G floor plan on Stribling here). The “C” line layouts are similarly non-loft-y (here). Unit 4D is 2,378 sq ft but costs a lot more to carry each month: $1,422 in common charges and $2,583 in taxes. At least this one has a rather large living / dining area (floor plan is here).
Looking at these floor plans it is easy to see why Suzanne Slesin was somewhat wistful about these new “loft” spaces:
the evocative sense of open space that made the loft lifestyle such a liberating alternative is somewhat compromised.
That is why she said that Artisan Lofts and The Hit Factory only “recall the authenticity of what loft living represented…”.
© Sandy Mattingly 2007
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