Out and About: Now I’ve seen everything

The apartment was okay, but access was about as strange as I’ve ever seen.

In the very low 100s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, the co-op is in handsome 1905 townhouse with flourishes such as decorative columns and a bay window.

Go up to the entrance, however, and there the oddity likely will force you to an abrupt halt.  There’s sign to the right of the door in Hebrew and English announcing the presence of a synagogue inside.

Was I at the wrong address for the open house that I planned to attend?

Trepidatiously, I went up three or four steps to the front door, tried the handle and ventured inside.  Directly in front of me was another door with shaded window.  Peeking through a gap, I could glimpse a public space that evidently was the synagogue.

To the left was another door, which turned out to be entry to the apartments above, but forget about a buzzer unlocking the thing: Residents are required to open it in person.

The apartment I had gone to see was up a couple of flights of once grand stairs, flanked by memorable wood paneling.  Alas, not only had the paneling been painted a bilious green, but a heavy mustiness shrouded the staircase.

As for the 1,200-sf unit renovated five years ago, there is much to commend it.

With two bedrooms and stylishly executed baths, modestly improved open kitchen, 10-foot-high ceilings, washer/dryer, multiple exposures and extra basement storage, the co-op is as airy and appealing as the staircase is depressing and oppressive.

The quality of an apartment itself is not all that buyers judge.  They want the apartment to exist in an appropriate environment.

This unit doesn’t meet that standard, so the original price of $1.095 million with monthly maintenance of $1,227 in January was at least $100,000 too high.  That must be why it went off the market temporarily and now is at $1.045 million — but do the math.

Following is a sample of properties that are listed by various other brokers and that I have visited:

  • On Riverside Drive in the mid 70s, a combined corner condo burdened by a dark living room that faces a wall.  This 2,160-sf unit has three bedrooms, three and a half  high-quality baths, a top-end square kitchen, washer/dryer, lovely river views from the dining room, and adequate closet space.  In a 1930 pet-friendly building with part-time doorman, the 2,120-sf apartment had an insupportable asking price of $3.45 million — chopped a little more than a month ago to $3.195 million — with monthly common charges of $2,587, real estate taxes of $1,606 and, until February of 2015, a special assessment of $460.
  • A  sorta one-bedroom co-op — a wall obviously was added to divide a onetime studio — that has to offer only a view south up three flights of odoriferous stairs from the street in a 1926 townhouse lacking amenities in the low 90s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.  Is there a point in writing more?  Oh well: The interior bath is dated and cruddy, the pass-through kitchen is dated and cruddy and the condition of the rest of the studio is — well, you get the picture.  The asking price of $300,000 with maintenance per month of $525 did not prevent the unit from going under contract in mid April, probably for much less.
  • In the mid 60s on a Central Park block, a one-bedroom co-op in which grandma clearly has taken up residence.  Still, the 750-sf apartment is spacious and enjoys the period charm of the so-so building’s 1939 construction.  There are a sunken living room, attractive modern kitchen with requisite stainless and stone, a dining area and updated bath.  Unfortunately, none of the three exposures is open, and the pet-friendly 1938 low-rise itself lacks much in the way of amenities, including doorman.  First listed for $750,000 and down after a second price cut last month, to $699,000, with heady monthly maintenance of $1,378, it should sell soon.  
  • A two-bedroom apartment that has an outdated eat-in kitchen with unforgettable lime-green walls in the high 80s between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues.  Aside from the lone bath, also outdated, that kitchen and the mostly obstructed exposures from the important rooms, this apartment actually has beneficial elements such as its good condition, dining room, decent hardwood floors and nicely proportioned rooms.  In a 1914 building with amenities excluding doorman, the co-op is pretty aggressively priced at $975,000 with maintenance of $1,494 a month but nonetheless went under contract last month.  

Tomorrow: Arm yourself

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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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