Out and About: Units occupying a nouveau niche

The Aldyn, 60 Riverside Blvd.

New developments possess an undeniable allure.

Those condos — invariably condos — seduce us with their gleam, their gloss, their glamor.

You can count on the windows being huge and the views from higher floors being incomparable.  In the more expensive ones, the style will be high; the amenities, impressive and comprehensive; and the service, white-glove.

To some folks, the idea that no one has lived in the new home of their choice is an attraction that can’t be beat.  A friend once confessed that she’d never buy a “used” house.  “Why,” she asked rhetorically, “would I want want to live in someone else’s place?”

If that’s the case, that pretty well rules out hotel rooms when traveling, no?

Although new developments lack that lived-in look and the patina of pre-war character, for example, those condos can be saddled with a panoply of problems.  Among them: legal issues arising from the offering plan (the Apthorp), financial issues arising from the developer’s shallow pockets (Sheffield 57) and construction issues in which building defects mount up, testing the patience and bank accounts of affected residents (virtually all new buildings).

What brings all this to mind is the 40-story Aldyn, on Riverside Boulevard overlooking the West Side Highway and, of course, the Hudson River and New Jersey beyond.

There is much to commend the year-old building itself —  the hushed quiet of the marbled lobby, the respectful concierge, the 41,000-sf health club, the garage, the swimming pool, the nursery, the bowling alley (!), the private storage and so on.

The apartments themselves boast expensive finishes and sterling design, by Costas Kondylis Architects, with outstanding open kitchens, ceilings that are nine feet high, ample closet space, Bosch washer/dryers and awesome views through walls of  floor-to-ceiling windows.

Of the 30 remaining units, asking prices range between $1.5 million for a one-bedroom on a mid floor to $16.9 million for a seven-bedroom apartment several floors higher.  At an average price per square foot of $1,960, these sexy condos are not listed for excessive amounts.

(According to the OLR database used exclusively by brokers, 13 are under contract at an average price per square foot of $1,580.  In the past year, 70 have closed, and their average price per square foot was $1,477.)

Riverside Boulevard from below West Side Highway

Consider the 28th floor unit with three bedrooms and three baths.  It covers 1,618 square feet and has common charges estimated at $1,917 a month, plus tax-abated real estate taxes of $63 a month.  It was listed for $3 million when I saw the place.

For such a trendy apartment to go for well under $2,000 a square foot is considered a pretty good deal in our current housing market, even though its rooms are on the modest side.

What’s wrong with this picture? you might ask.

Many buyers may well be troubled by the building’s relatively remote location far west between 63rd and 64th streets, whooshing traffic noise and visual pollution from the West Side Highway below, and a long hike to Broadway with its subways and concentration of retail stores, grocers and dining options.

Those concerns aside, the building is damn fine.

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

  • In the low 90s between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, a 700-sf co-op that is three flights of stairs from the street.  With exposed brick walls, three exposures (primarily north), oversize windows, above-average closet space and nice hardwood floors, this 700-sf one-bedroom apartment is in good condition.  The pass-through kitchen has stone countertops and mid-range cherry cabinets.  Even reduced in two steps from $645,000 in May to $595,000 with monthly maintenance of $673, this place in a 10-unit self-managed 1890 building that accepts cats, but not dogs, is seriously overpriced.  
  • A strangely configured one-bedroom on the high first floor of a 1928 low-rise with part-time doorman in a Central Park block of the high 60s.  Though enjoying skim-coated floors, stainless-steel appliances and refinished floors that unfortunately are dark, the layout of this 875-sf co-op is a major concern relating to a bath through the bedroom and an extra room facing a courtyard for which the best use is not a bedroom.  After having been listed for as much as $929,000 back in February and then at $769,000 with maintenance per month of $1,599, the apartment has finally found a buyer. 
  • In the low 80s close to Central Park, a stylishly gut-renovated three-bedroom, two-bath sponsor co-op that has almost everything but views.  This first-floor unit contains a squarish top-of-the-line eat-in kitchen with even a pot filler over the stove, radiant-heated floor in its handsome marble-tiled master bath, oversize windows, beautifully refinished old floors, washer/dryer and a fair number of closets.  The bedrooms are small, and the hall bath has been discordantly designed.  “If it had open exposures, I could have listed it for $2 million,” the listing broker says with a touch of exaggeration.  In a 1915 pet-averse low-rise lacking amenities, the unit had an asking price of $1.445 million with monthly maintenance of $1,608 before two reductions, finally to $1.35 million earlier this month, when there was an accepted offer.  The purchase price probably is in the neighborhood of $1.3 million.  
  • On Riverside Drive in the low 100s, a one-bedroom sponsor apartment that has terrific views. . . of walls.  Also, the kitchen is bare, closet space is barely adequate and the foyer is pointlessly large.  But on the plus side, it is a corner unit with sunken living room, permission to install a washer/dryer and rooms of good size.  In a 1930 doorman building that is pet friendly and close to a subway stop, the co-op is offered for $625,000 with maintenance of $931 a month, perhaps $75,000 more than the appropriate selling price.  It now is under contract.
  • A memorable 1,200-sf condo on Columbus Avenue in the high 70s looking east through an expanse of windows over the Museum of Natural History.  This strikingly renovated apartment has movable walls between the living room and space that could be used as a bedroom, two somewhat dated baths, gorgeous cherry floors, washer/dryer, excellent closet space and a handsome kitchen with top-end appliances. The latest asking price of $1.9 million from $1.995 in September with monthly common charges of $1,294 and taxes of $1,333 is approaching reality and explains why the unit was sold in February.

(This post somehow got buried by my blogging site (WordPress), so apologies that I’ve only just been able to unearth the thing.  The result is that a few of the listings are older than I prefer and thus are no longer on the market.)

Tomorrow: There goes the. . .

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you can privately search all available properties for your new home.

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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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