Waste not, want not

Under the category of my pet peeves, the file is thick. Most folks don’t much like popcorn ceilings, kitchens in which the refrigerator seems miles from the sink or windowless rooms created from the combination of two or more apartments.

One pet peeve that doesn’t always register with buyers immediately is useless space that is not just an interior room. For example, too many apartments, most of them pre-war and especially those that have been renovated, suffer from space wasted on hallways.

Photo of an illuminated hallway taken by Eric Rice.

All too often, the entry to some pre-war apartments requires a hike from the door past one or two bedrooms, a closet and sometimes a bath before you ever get close to the living room. Real estate brokers like to call hallways such as these “galleries” in a spasm of puffery that best would be squelched.

Consider the handsomely renovated three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath co-op in the low 70s of Manhattan’s Upper West Side that has an expansive living room separated from a corner dining room by leaded glass pocket doors, enormous eat-in kitchen dripping with fine taste, washer/dryer, generous closet space and details such as dentil molding and flawless original herringbone floors. There is no doorman, but a live-in super accepts deliveries. And other amenities are absent.

On Riverside Drive with memorable river views from the ninth and top floor of a distinctive turn-of-the-century building that boasts impeccable financials and welcomes pets, the apartment has much to commend it.

But the unit suffers from a plethora of hallways. One is described as a 32-foot-long “entrance gallery.” Well, off that space are: two bedrooms, the kitchen and a powder room. Thirty-two feet! In the broker’s description, the second hallway is cleverly ignored altogether. It runs from the kitchen at least 20 feet to the dining room. Worse, from the point of view of wasted space, the hallway runs parallel to that so-called entrance gallery.

Still, the asking price of $2.2 million with monthly maintenance of $2,505 is not outrageous.

On a much smaller scale, but no less egregiously wasteful is a three-bedroom, one bath floor-through co-op in a 1905 limestone row house in the mid 80s east of Broadway. The apartment is on the fifth floor of a walk-up, after which climb, the hallway may seem like a trek too far for anyone carrying shopping bags loaded with anything heavier than teabags.

The kitchen is at the far end of the hall beyond two bedrooms of little more than 100 square feet each, both defeated by the passage of time and cramped living/dining area. Square in shape and mildly modern, the open kitchen is adorned with laminate countertops and has windows overlooking brownstone gardens. At the front of the apartment facing the street is a space shown on the floor plan as the master bedroom but staged as the living room; it is the biggest room in the apartment.

Although the unit has a few good features – washer/dryer, new wood floors and a decorative fireplace – it has, understandably, been a hard sell.

It went on the market two years ago for $1.15 million and was taken off the market the following April for more than a year. The co-op was listed again in June for $949,000, and the price was cut to $895,000 with maintenance of $896 in July. There it remains.

Good luck to the sellers; surely, they will need it at such an imaginative price.

The units described above exemplify what I write in the Out and About section of my free-biweekly e-newsletter, where you’ll find in Realty Digest at least a dozen such critical assessments in every issue along his information about the U.S. and New York City housing markets, celebrity home sales, household tips and mortgage news.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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