First, you trudge up three full flights of stairs in one of two conjoined townhouses in the mid 60s off Fifth Avenue on Manhattan tony Upper East Side. (Your neighbors in the other cooperatively linked townhouse are spared the hike since they alone have access to an elevator.)
Then you arrive, breathless, at an unusual apartment that might measure 450 square feet, each of them exquisitely renovated. The unit is so small that the bed has to be suspended close to the ceiling and lowered at night, coming to rest on two dressers and reached even then via a short, stylish ladder.
Soon after I saw the place a couple of weeks ago, it inexplicably went off the market after only nine weeks and may well resurface soon. Since the broker tells me she no longer has the listing, even though it continues to show as active in the OLR database used by brokers, this is a rare instance when I ethically can specify the location: 14 E. 64th St., #4B.
If you want to live there, the asking price was $1.1 million with maintenance of $1,665 per month. That works out to $2,444.44 a square foot. (There do exist listings for loft spaces, condops or units with hotel services that are dearer, far more spacious and less likely to be true studio apartments.)
To be fair, there’s also an inviting terrace, which is on the south side of the apartment and overlooking both the gardens in the block’s interior as well as Ivana Trump’s broad terrace.
The terrace partly explains the price. So does the nearly flawless one-room co-op’s inclusion in a book called “Living Large in Small Places.”
There’s isn’t an inch of the place that has not been stunningly designed – for example, the blue-hued, translucent, cracked glass tiling that surrounds the gas fireplace; an audio/video system that is state-of-the-art; Venetian plaster finishes; bay window facing those gardens; beautifully crafted open kitchen; and even that bed, which actually slips into a secret ceiling compartment. The furniture has been so carefully chosen to fit into the space harmoniously that it would be shame to purchase the studio without it.
The sole item worthy of change would be the microwave oven, which is tucked into a surprisingly large walk-in closet. It would be good somehow to find a place for it to sit unobtrusively in the kitchen, which is as cunningly engineered as a seagoing galley on a lavish yacht.
For someone who cooks and likes to give dinner parties, the long climb that discourages heavy shopping, never mind older guests, would be a deal breaker. For anyone else, the price is the price, though the premium for the apartment’s inclusion in a book may prove to be excessive.
Other units in the two buildings are not available to be seen, yet it is a safe bet that this studio is the best of the lot for its size – if only because of the elevated terrace. But its quality illustrates a precept in real estate usually applied to a street or neighborhood: Regression. In real estate (and in almost every other context), regression is considered a bad thing. Loosely, defined, it refers to the best house on the block.
What regression means is that the house will be dragged down in market value, whatever the investment its owners have made in the property, by the lesser houses around it. Conversely, progression suggests that the worst house on the block will have its value nudged upward by the better ones surrounding it.
Perhaps the most expensive co-op studio in Manhattan will prove to be an exception to the rule. After all, its neighborhood is pretty pricey to begin with, and many buyers will pay extra to be associated with it, especially those young lions of Wall Street.
What doesn’t seem clear, however, is how many potential buyers have the wherewithal to spend on such a small apartment that will require them to lug their groceries and Louis Vuitton bags up three long flights of stairs.
Should this property be listed again, it obviously would be a mistake to price it so high, however unique or appealing it may be.
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out the occasionally amusing, often biting, always honest critiques of the properties that I visit every week in the Out and About section of the free e-newsletter that I publish on alternate Fridays and in which a version of this commentary appeared one week ago.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022