Out and About: Can drama trump the views?

Two apartments that I recently visited had me lingering with unconcealed appreciation, practically awestruck, for their architecture, not just their décor.

I’m not denying that the look of the units had to have underscored the impression the bones conveyed.  But so daring and dramatic was the interior architecture that, to my mind, the apartments went beyond winning to wow.

Let me tell you about one of them, which happens to be the most expensive of the pair by far–$5.2 million.  It is in the low 70s between Broadway and Columbus Avenue.

The product of a combination of two condos, this lofty apartment contains 3,180 square feet and boasts ceilings as high as 15 feet. The windows are appropriately oversize, admitting northern light, and the condition is superb, giving no hint of wear over the last five years since the apartment was gut-renovated.

Other units in the building suffer from having “bedrooms” in the loft area either entirely walled in or open to the space below, thereby failing to qualify technically as bedrooms.  The combination of the apartment under consideration permitted an expansive master suite with strikingly customized dressing room and an extravagant spa-like bath on the main level.  Windows!  No stairs!  Privacy!

Warmed with wooden features both antique and high-tech, the condo has an inviting den, sparkling gunnite wall tiles, plush carpeting, perfect flow, an eye-catching bridge between the two bedrooms above with (expensively finished) baths and central air conditioning.

The big gleaming kitchen provides top-end appliances of size and quality meant for entertaining.   Of course, there are a wine cooler, extra refrigerated drawers, a stylishly built-in desk,  additional pantry space and a washer/dryer around the main kitchen area.

If this apartment hasn’t functioned as a movie set, a location scout hasn’t been looking very hard.

Obviously, I was swept away.  As you must have discerned from the headline, the unit comes with a tiny little problem that is hard to ignore: It faces hulking walls from a low floor.

The sellers and their broker certainly took the views into account when pricing the apartment, and I have to say that $1,635 for each wonderful square foot on average does not strike me as unreasonable as a starting point.  And there’s nothing else average about the place.

Hey, I’d move there in a minute if someone would buy it for me, though common charges and real estate taxes are, at a total of $4,491 a month, are a bit above my budget.  Yeah, a bit.

Here are some of the other properties listed by various brokers that I have seen:

  • A 625-sf one-bedroom apartment on the top floor of a six-story 1940 building that welcomes pets in the low 90s between Broadway and West End Avenue.  This pleasant co-op facing south has a decently, but inexpensively, updated interior kitchen, good closet space, high ceilings, too much hallway and bathroom tiled in robin’s-egg blue (alas).  It is well priced at $519,000 (after two reductions totaling $41,000) with monthly maintenance of $714.
  • In the mid 80s near Riverside Park, a “contractor’s special” with great bones.  This seven-room co-op with three baths has a maid’s room, dining room and huge square kitchen evocative of its origins in 1915.  In a doorman building that admits pets case by case, the apartment needs absolutely everything–everything–though the next owner may want to consider preserving the subway tiles in the baths and kitchen.  It is listed within reason for $2.295 million with maintenance of $3,407 a month, probably needing $500,000, give or take, worth of work, including new flooring.
  • A one-bedroom condo in the center of Lincoln Square.  With an updated pass-through kitchen that has flourishes such as fanciful glass-tile backsplash and entire wall, lovely cherry floors, one-and-a-half baths, washer/dryer, 9-foot ceilings, custom lighting and oversize windows, this 823-sf apartment in a towering white-glove 1995 building had a necessary $55,000 price cut to $1.195 million after a month on the market but has a way to go.  Common charges and real estate taxes total  $1,568 monthly.
  • In Morningside Heights close to Central Park, a one-bedroom condo lacking charm on a low floor facing the rear.  In a 1987 full-service condo, this 589-sf apartment is said to have been totally renovated, but no claim is made as to how expensively.  The floors are laminate, and the oak kitchen cabinets suggest low-end big-box retailer.  Still, the asking price of $415,000 with total monthly costs of $763 is on target for a sale near $400,000, though it was taken off the market temporarily last week.
  • A three-bedroom, two-bath co-op in the low 90s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.  The third bedroom was carved out of the dining room, leaving a small, but not horrible, enclosed space for a table on the way to the kitchen.  As for the cramped kitchen, it is way past its prime–and never was of high quality–especially the four-inch-square bright blue tiles on the countertops. This third-floor apartment has floors in poor condition as well as vintage baths, but the open southern  exposures are a plus.  In a 1925 pet-friendly building with part-time doorman and fitness room, the unit has been on the market for a year, when it was listed for $1.315 million.  Now, it is $1.39 million after six price reductions, mostly recently by $30,000, with maintenance of $1,797 a month.  How do you spell c-h-a-s-i-n-g t-h-e m-a-r-k-e-t?
  • In the high 60s west of Broadway, an alcove studio that has little more going for it than the mostly open views west.  This shabby condo has an old interior kitchen, exceptional closet space, a dated bath and well-worn floors.  In a 1964 high-rise with many amenities but no tolerance for pets or in-unit washer/dryers, the 550-sf apartment is listed for an appropriate $495,000 with monthly costs totaling $703.

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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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