Out and About: Against the odds, different owners approve purchase of 3 adjoining units

In a building that I have often visited, this listing is not one that I happened to see.

But it caught my interest when a friend who lives in the somewhat dowdy Upper West Side building on Riverside Drive in the very low 90s expressed wonder at the asking price close to $9 million.

Although large apartments are much in demand, it is a lot of money, especially in light of the more than $1 million in renovations that likely must be undertaken to combine and, where necessary, upgrade the three co-ops (floorplan above) on the market as a single penthouse.

According to my friend, the couple in one of the units decided to sell and then managed to persuade the owners of the other two of the chance that they could make out by selling the three together.  Their assent alone amounts to a big accomplishment.

Given that each of the apartments has incomparable views from their top floor location along with other assets, I wasn’t at all sure that selling each of them separately wouldn’t prove most beneficial to all around.  The listing price of all three strikes me as pretty ambitious in the pre-war building, which at minimum lacks glamor.

One issue that leaped to mind has to do with how an offer might have been handled: It is hard enough for a sole seller to make hard choices during negotiations, so I cannot begin to imagine how challenging were negotiations among three sets of owners with competing agendas.

I was surprised that the uncombined penthouses quickly found a buyer, but the housing market has confounded me before.

It took only three weeks for the parties to have entered into contract for all three of the properties.  Against all odds.

Apparently the combination of large size and spectacular, truly matchless views, made for the swift and, in my mind, unexpected sale.

What do I know?

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

  • In the low 100s on a block near the northern end of Central Park, a modest two-bedroom, two-bath apartment that has the telltale earmarks of a sponsor’s renovation a few years ago.  Facing south over a side street from a lower level, this co-op has a washer/dryer, decent galley kitchen, good closet space, hollow-core doors and a foyer big enough for dining.  Given its distance from prime subway lines and the pet-friendly 1920 building’s limited amenities, the 1,000-sf co-op is priced a tad high at $699,000 with monthly maintenance of $952 yet went under contract last month.
  • A renovated one-bath co-op in a Riverside Park block of the mid 70s.  There are a small, barely adequate galley kitchen easily opened to the living room, two walk-in closets, well-proportioned rooms, good northern light and extra basement storage (with waiting list).  In a 1929 doorman building that has a garden and exercise room, the apartment was listed at an optimistic $575,000 with high monthly maintenance of $1,310 and then had a pointless $10,000 reduction in May.  It also has a new broker.
  • East of Lincoln Center in the high 60s, a combined three-bedroom, two-bath apartment that betrays the age and bad decisions about renovations begun more than 15 years ago.  The small kitchen has laminate countertops plus an outcropping of granite but also a Viking stove, one of the baths has been only half improved, wood choices range from pickled flooring to walnut and maple, the dining room is misplaced, closets are inadequate, views barely clear nearby rooftops, and the 243-sf foyer represents an unconscionable amount of wasted space.  The unit, which does have a washer dryer, is in a pet-friendly 1920 building that has a fitness room, roof deck and no doorman.  Although its listing price of $1.799 million with maintenance of $2,556 a month is beyond reason, the apartment went under contract at the end of May.  
  • An airy two-bedroom co-op on West End Avenue in the low 90s.  With a Jack-and-Jill bath between the two bedrooms, open southern exposures and western ones that are obstructed, modern galley kitchen, washer/dryer, built-ins and minimal closet space, this appealing apartment is priced effectively after two cuts from $1.05 million to $950,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,862.  Consequently, it found a buyer last month.
  • On West End Avenue in the low 80s, a vacant two-bedroom co-op that is in a great location and in gross condition.  The 1,400-sf apartment has two bedrooms, two original baths, dining room, inadequate closet space, old galley kitchen that is narrow while containing a washer/dryer and laminate countertops, aged floors and walls splashed with a coat of white paint.  Exposures from the main rooms are south from a lower floor toward buildings across the street.  At an asking price of $1.345 million with maintenance of $1,835 a month in a 1929 doorman building with roof deck, this unit will be available for quite a while.

Tomorrow:  Tax talk

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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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