Out and About: One from Column A, B and/or C

Unless the odor of cooking food happens to waft from a restaurant, I can’t say that I think of Chinese food very often when looking at apartments for sale.

But I thought of the choices that menus sometimes offer while visiting three apartments in the low 70s between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West.  I’m not sure which of the three I liked best, perhaps the one-bedroom unit separated from the two-bedroom co-op by a sad studio.

Buyers can choose any of the apartments alone, combine the studio and one-bedroom, combine the studio and two-bedroom or purchase all three.  They are lined up along a side of their 1925 building, which has a laundry room and concierge as its amenities. The current prices:

  • Studio, $349,000 with monthly maintenance of $647, including utilities
  • One bedroom, $650,000 with maintenance of $1,383
  • Two-bedroom, $1.8 million and $3,059 (!)
  • Studio and one-bedroom together, $999,000
  • One-bedroom and two-bedroom, $2.099 million
  • All three, $2.749 million

Although the two listing brokers involved may be credited with an attempt at creative marketing, perhaps you’ll agree with me that the absence of quantity discounts is limiting.

Whether the prices are correct even alone also is questionable.  For example, the 400-sf studio which has fairly open southern exposures into the block’s interior contains nothing that qualifies as a kitchen.  Closet space is minimal, and the bath is old.

The 800-sf one-bedroom unit demands cosmetic improvement and a new kitchen, which is interior.  Closet space is scant, but there is room for additional storage.  The bath is a kind of creepy.  But the exposures into the block’s interior are reasonably pleasing.

As for the 1,450-sf two-bedroom apartment, which the high maintenance suggests results from a combination, it doesn’t benefit from any open views; every room faces the rear, too, but it looks onto walls rather than gardens or sky.

I can’t put my finger on what about the layout is disconcerting, except possibly the way the layout aligns in the long rectangle that comprises the unit.  Gutted in 2007, the apartment has an outsize kitchen boasting countertops of variously polished concrete or stainless steel, expensive appliances and custom cabinetry.  A wall of built-in shelves and enclosed storage doesn’t help a hallway between the 27.5-foot living/dining room from the bedrooms.

Adding the studio, one-bedroom unit or both to the apartment would, I think, add insult to what already has been wrought on the place.  As for the price of that two-bedroom co-op, which has its best feature an enviably ideal location, how could it be worth anything like the $1.8 million sought?

It is not, but the clue in that unrealistic pricing is the owners’ timing in their purchase of the apartment, which then was listed for $1.7 million.  That was in June of 2008, just three months before the collapse of Lehman Brothers caused our housing market to nosedive and stall.

No, those sellers won’t be getting back their “investment” any time soon.

Below are other properties that are listed by various brokers and that I have visited:

  • On West End Avenue in the high 80s, a stylishly renovated three-bedroom, two-bedroom co-op on a low floor of a much-desired 1912 doorman building.  With a wall of handsome built-ins in the living room, a striking open top-end kitchen/dining room just beyond the entry, lovely dark oak wide-plank flooring, central air conditioning, lots of storage space, glass-enclosed steam shower off the master bedroom and good northern light only into the living and dining rooms, this apartment is enormously appealing — but not for the asking price of $2.395 million with maintenance of $2,842 a month.
  • In the low 100s between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, a pleasing two-bedroom, one-bath co-op in a 1940 building evocative of the Art Deco era but lacking a doorman.  The 875-sf apartment provides a sunken living room, northern street views from the living room and bedroom, hollow-core doors and a large kitchen that could use improvement, particularly the laminate green countertops.  When the price of this place drops from its reduced $625,000 below $600,000 with maintenance of $1,324 a month, it should have little trouble finding a buyer.
  • In a Central Park block of the high 60s, a terrace with attached studio apartment that needs everything.  The 500-sf co-op with minute kitchen boasts a terrace that is bigger than the entire unit and open views from a floor in the teens.  In a 1920 pet-friendly building lacking a doorman, this apartment has an appropriate asking price of $695,000 with maintenance of $1,113 a month.
  • A so-called duplex with a platform reachable by spiral staircase and masquerading as a bedroom with full bath.  This shoddily maintained 850-sf condo in a 1986 high-rise between Broadway and West End Avenue in the very low 90s, offers decent river views and balcony, though little else.  The building itself has a roof deck, gym, sauna, swimming pool and 24-hour lobby attendants.  The listing price of $850,000, reduced by a staggering $15,000 in July, with monthly common charges of $843 and taxes of $765 is numbingly unrealistic.

Tomorrow: Should I just shut up?

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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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