Out and About: The curse of lot-line windows

With two more windows, this living room would be twice as light.

What the photo above graphically illustrates is what happens when the reality of lot-line windows comes home.

When the owners purchased their home, they doubtless assumed that nothing would block the windows at one end of the living room.  Those current sellers were wrong, all too clearly.

Either unaware of lot-line windows in the condo or blissfully unconcerned about them, the buyers must have congratulated themselves on the purchase of their light-filled new residence in a 1910 doorman building on a corner of Broadway.

Now, they must be regretting the day of their closing.

After they bought the place, I’m sure, a building went up next door abutting their own.  Its walls come right up against their apartment, and the owners have seen fit to install mirrors instead of confronting a wall of bricks.  It ain’t a pretty sight.

For a good lawyerly definition of lot-line windows, I have plucked from coopandcoop.com a paragraph that every potential buyer should read:

Any window existing on the wall of a building that is on or in close proximity to the interior or side property lines of a building will be considered a lot line window. As lot line windows are not counted for required light or ventilation, when the adjacent property owner constructs a building that blocks the lot line window, that window will likely have to be closed up if it’s within 30 feet of the lot line window, usually at the expense of the condo owner. And it does happen.

The apartment in question actually has four exposures, but none is desirable.  The one-time northern exposure from the living room is, of course, nonexistent, though the corner dining room facing both north and west manages depressing courtyard views.  Opposite the lot-line windows, the southern exposures are obstructed.

The master bedroom looks east and south, but it’s just a few floors above the busy avenue below.  So, no one is going to spring for this apartment for the views.

Yet the nicely renovated condo has its virtues: state-of-the-art eat-in kitchen, three improved baths, 10.5-foot-high ceilings, formal dining room, handsome hardwood floors, washer/dryer and a maid’s room transformed into an interior office.

The apartment went on the market in January for $2.695 million with monthly common charges of $1,587 and real estate taxes of $1,075.  Despite the demand for large units, this dreary one with three bedrooms will go begging until someone with more desire for space than need for light comes along, and that probably explains February’s inadequate price cut to $2.5 million.

Here are some other apartments that various brokers have listed and I have visited:

  • A duplex on the first and basement floors of a 1925 townhouse in the very low 100s west of Broadway.  In a portion of the old parlour floor are the nicely finished (and attenuated) living room with attractively renovated open kitchen, gas fireplace and remaining original woodwork; a decently updated full bath; and rickety spiral staircase leading underground, where a large space includes something erroneously called a bedroom, three big closets and another improved bath.  At its twice-reduced asking price of $425,000, from $475,000, with maintenance per month of $795, this co-op likely will attract a buyer willing to sleep in a cave.
  • In the mid 70s on West End Avenue, a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op that has a maid’s room and a foyer big enough for a small dining table.  The kitchen is above average, there is a washer/dryer, built-ins line a living room wall, bedrooms face the street from a low level, the dark-stained floors could stand some work, closet space is considerable, and that living room surrounded by other rooms in the center of the apartment has but a single window . . . into a courtyard.  In a 1927 doorman building, this apartment has high monthly costs of $2,336 plus an assessment of $56.  Offered at $1.295 million, it sold last month for $1.235 million.
  • A one-bedroom condo that has terrific views of brick walls from every window and a decrepit galley kitchen in a Central Park block of the high 90s.  Despite its defects, the apartment otherwise has its virtues, among them good light in the living room, floors in good condition and a small foyer easing entry into the space.  In a 1900 low-rise generally lacking amenities, the unit is listed appropriately at $519,000 with combined costs of $771 a month and thus went under contract just last week.
  • In a 1986 Lincoln Square high-rise overflowing with amenities, an 1,165-sf condo with wonderful views south and west.  Among the unit’s other features are two bedrooms at opposite ends of the apartment, two marble baths and a pass-through kitchen, but everything is of original quality.  With laminate countertops and old appliances, the kitchen demands updating, and it wouldn’t hurt to do the baths as well to the tune of as much as $100,000 for everything.  The place is listed at $1.85 million with monthly common charges of $1,464 and real estate taxes of $1,736.  Views and location notwithstanding, that’s asking a lot.

Tomorrow: First impressions

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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

Malcolm@ServiceYouCanTrust.com
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