Out and About: Some properties have no future

Forget it at any price.

A property is sometimes so hopeless that there’s no point in renovating the place.

Consider a one-bedroom unit in the mid 90s that literally has  nothing going for it. It has been listed for months at $470,000 with maintenance and a special assessment totaling $831 a month.

Carved out of at least one other unit in an Upper West Side doorman building, this co-op seems meant only for an out-of-towner who plans to spend a tiny amount of time in his pied-à-terre.  (Alas, the building forbids pieds-à-terre.)

Maybe it would be right for the individual motivated more by the need for a separate bedroom than for minimum levels of ambience, maintenance, practicality and tastefulness.

The condition of the unit is a couple of steps above that of an estate apartment, but the potential of this suffocating unit is dead on arrival.  Frankly, I’d rather live in a basement studio than there, even after a gut renovation.

The problems are manifold:

  • Gloomy interior and blocked exposures;
  • Entry right into a hallway dominated by the bath but with a clear view of the cramped kitchen, which cries out for improvement;
  • An outdated and depressingly styled bath that is oddly configured, apparently as a result of the way the apartment was hacked out of a larger unit;
  • Weird layout in that the living room is disproportionately small and the bedroom, disproportionately large while being distant from the bath;
  • The different awkward layout that would result from switching bedroom and living room.

Even though it is a corner apartment, the brick walls outside obliterate that advantage, along with, of course, any views of the nearby Central Park or anything else of interest to anyone but a peeping tom or an exhibitionist.

I just don’t see how this property in a 1931 pet-friendly building can be saved. Or should.  Pouring funds into making the place more inviting would make it prettier perhaps but, to my mind, no more desirable.

What’s that expression about throwing good money after bad?

Below are other properties listed by various brokers that I have seen recently:

  • A distressingly basic one-bedroom condo on Central Park West in Morningside Heights.  In a dog-averse 1987 high-rise, this vacant 589-sf apartment facing northeast over a gasoline station has benefited from few, if any, improvements.  The kitchen has inexpensive cabinetry and appliances (including a dishwasher), the floors are worn parquet and a section of window in both the living room and bedroom remains covered, though a few hundred dollars would be well spent to admit additional light.  Still, the asking price of $395,000 with common charges of $420 and real estate taxes of $450 monthly is not out of line.  The unit was listed back in May for $425,000, probably below what the owner paid in 2006, explaining why the most recent reduction was in October.
  • In Lincoln Square, an appealing one-bedroom apartment packed with attractive built-ins.  With parquet floors, an updated bath, an open kitchen (unfortunately with bright green laminated countertops), and north exposures toward relatively distant buildings, this co-op in a 1975 building in which it is difficult to obtain financing is well priced at a reduced $599,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,030 plus an undisclosed special assessment.
  • An unfinished five-bedroom condo in a combined unit that has been gut renovated in the high 90s between Broadway and West End Avenue.  This 3,300-sf apartment is in a building that has been undergoing conversion from rentals starting in 2007.  Among the features being constructed are a steam room, “ultra-sophisticated connectivity system,” white-oak herringbone floors, extra sound insulation and three exposures from a low floor.  When it went on the market in October, the price was $4.5 million.  When no one bit after a few weeks, there was a $1 million reduction (no doubt as a marketing ploy).  Last week, the ask just went up to $3.395 million–see what sticks?  Monthly costs total $2,903.
  • In the high 70s between just east of Amsterdam Avenue, a two-bedroom, one-bath co-op that needs to have that bath and the 70s interior kitchen spruced up.  Although its northern exposures are not truly open, the place has well-proportioned rooms, plumbing for a washer/dryer and ample closet space.  In a very well located 1920 building that has a part-time doorman and is pet friendly, this apartment was listed optimistically in mid-January at $1.095 million with maintenance per month of $1,600 before two reductions, ultimately to $1.01 million, and going temporarily off the market five weeks later.
  • Another two-bedroom, one-bath apartment, this one in a 1930 building in the low 80s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive.  With northern views of brownstone gardens, this 1,000-sf co-op has a decently renovated kitchen (with the exception of laminate flooring) open to the living room, stripped woodwork and floors that ought to be refinished.  It is offered appropriately for $775,000 with maintenance of $1,115 a month.
  • In the mid 60s near Central Park in a white-glove post-war building that lacks no amenity, an airy 1,300-sf co-op that has been tastefully renovated.  With two split bedrooms and two baths, a balcony from which the park is easily viewed, a dining area, generous closet space, and northern exposures from the living room and bedroom, this apartment suffers only from generally obstructed eastern exposures.  It is listed hopefully at $1.85 million with monthly maintenance of $1,664.

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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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