Out and About: I’m in love, alas unrequited

Photos of duplex at 444 Central Park West courtesy of listing broker Matthew Steele of CitySites Real Estate Group.

In the course of my open house rounds, I see properties that are listed for as little as $300,000 and as much as many millions, well into the double digits.

You might expect me to go gaga (sorry, Lady) over the most expensive ones.  And they obviously do make a strong impression, but they begin to look the same after a while.

I find that I can pretty well predict how a high-priced property will look even before I go through the door whether in a pre-war or a post-war building.  It’s the exceptions at various price points that get my heart beating fast, however.

Apartments that grab me are those with not only charm but an unusual amount of character such as the one in the photos.  In its first week in the market, this co-op at 444 Central Park West, between 104th and 105th streets, already had a decent offer, according to the listing broker, yet it inexplicably was taken off the market permanently last month.

Truth be told, I fell in love with the apartment, which is in a 1929 doorman building encrusted with Art Deco detail between 104th and 105th streets.

Although I could quibble about the duplex renovated some three years ago — for example, the modern kitchen that it’s a bit small for two cooks at once, placement of the terrace off the master bedroom and the spiral staircase, albeit sturdy and well designed — I’d be willing to overlook those relatively minor concerns in light of the corner co-op’s many assets.

Where to begin?  (Be still, my heart.)

The 1,400-sf unit is on the 18th and 19th floors of the building with vistas you want to reach out and touch.  From that perch, you can marvel at Central Park and beyond to the east and north.  On the upper floor, the terrace is beautifully planted, and it beckons its owners outside for breakfast, reading, cocktails or almost any combination thereof.

However appealing the terrace, which rests above the second bedroom used as a sitting room (shown above), I was struck by the character of the main floor.  The owner had set into the walls antique wooden church doors, burnished the hardwood floors and otherwise added elements that one doesn’t see every day.

In addition, the evocative tilt-and-turn windows are new and double-glazed, preserving the apartment’s and the building’s original aura.  The walls have been skim-coated. Unseen are the cement floors and walls, affording an unusual degree of quietude.

As far as I am concerned, character counts for a lot.  Moreover, buyers continually demonstrate that I am not alone: An attractively priced property that drips with character and is flooded with charm can be counted on to sell quickly.

The asking price was $1.325 million with monthly maintenance of $2,376.

Below is a sampling of other properties that are listed by various brokers and that I have seen in the last few weeks:

  • An 840-sf co-op in the low 90s on a corner of Broadway in the low 90s.  This one-bedroom apartment in a Rosario Candela full-service building has generous closet space, a modestly improved galley kitchen, an updated bath that could use still more updating and northern exposures into a courtyard from the dark living room.  At $658,000 with maintenance of $780 a month, dropped by $31,000 in mid June, the unit is well priced.  
  • In a Central Park block of Lincoln Square, a three-bedroom, two-bath corner co-op that is highly styled.  With obstructed northern exposures from the living room and master bedroom, western exposures across a broad courtyard from the living room and second bedroom, 11.5-foot ceilings, dramatically dark-stained floors throughout, an up-to-date high-end kitchen, washer/dryer, excellent layout and baths that are stunning, the unit shows beautifully.  But it is hard to justify even the twice-reduced asking price of $2 million with monthly maintenance of $2,649, given the views and lack of significant amenities beyond doorman in its 1906 building.  
  • A barely presentable one-bedroom apartment up three dreary flights of stairs in the mid 80s west of West End Avenue.  This spare sponsor co-op in a brownstone at least faces south, has high ceilings and nice hardwood floors while lacking a bathroom that isn’t in dire need of an overhaul but a kitchen so dated and like a Pullman that it demands a gut renovation.  Yet the price of $335,000, a $40,000 reduction since it went on the market in early February, with maintenance of $1,015 a month should lure a young buyer.
  • On a corner of Amsterdam Avenue in the high 70s, a nicely improved 841-sf condo that has a narrow galley kitchen that has modest black appliances, a small den or office that could be used as a bedroom in a pinch (literally), exposures east and west, and a washer/dryer.  In a pre-war pet-friendly doorman building, this unit found a buyer toward the end of last month despite an excessively high offering price of $975,000 with monthly common charges of $706 and real estate taxes of $214.  
  • An undeniably gracious classic six-room co-op on Riverside Drive in the very low 90s.  On the high first floor of a 1925 building without a doorman, the apartment suffers from its proximity to bus traffic on the Drive, which it faces, plus the few stairs up for those prospective buyers with physical challenges.  Also it needs a cosmetic overhaul, though the large kitchen benefits from lovely cabinetry that may be chestnut.  There are oversize master bedroom and living room, a maid’s room with its more or less original cramped bath (with two doors) and closet space that Lady Gaga might envy.  Because this rambling unit of approximately 2,000 square feet is not unreasonably priced at $1.9 million with maintenance of $2,156 per month, it went under contract last month.
  • In Morningside Heights on Riverside Drive a block from a subway stop, a co-op that has brick walls just outside the living room, kitchen and one of the two windows in the single bedroom. With a fresh coat of paint, dated kitchen with laminate countertops, lots of closet space and rooms of adequate proportions, this apartment is offered for nearly an appropriate $450,000 with monthly maintenance of $450,000.

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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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