Out and About: Two too awkward for words

Apartments that have been truncated or expanded almost always suffer from contorted flow. (Flickr photo by hpb_pix)

From virtually the moment you enter some apartments, the sense may emerge that something is very wrong.

Although a bad smell, a rundown appearance or a suffocating gloom can be the source of the sense, a bastardized layout also can account for a more subtle — if no less offputting — reaction

Such is the case for a co-op or condo that has been chopped from a larger one and, frequently, an apartment that has been combined from one or two adjacent units.

Two apartments in the low 100s suffer from such a disconcerting burden. 

On Riverside Drive, a two-bedroom co-op with just one bath (left) has as its best feature the size of its large kitchen; it is an example of a chopped unit.  Entrance into the 1,000-sf unit seems unusually abrupt, a meandering path leads to one of the bedrooms and that sole bath, the other bedroom sits uncomfortably next to the living room, and, because this place was the rear part of the larger apartment, all of the exposures are obstructed from a low level.

The kitchen bears the burden of wooden, not butcher-block, countertops and original cabinets that bespeak their age.  As for the bath, it is vintage.  In addition, a cube-shaped wall inexplicably intrudes into a far corner of the living room.

In a 1922 doorman building with few other amenities, the apartment will have a hard time finding a buyer at its asking price of $760,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,173.

On West End Avenue in a pet-friendly 1922 building lacking amenities, a second property that won’t go quickly is a forlorn three-bedroom, two-bath co-op that demands a total overhaul.  It is not the worst example of a combination of two units.

Still, that third bedroom seems woefully out of place.  Between the original bedrooms in the apartments that were combined, it is off what legally can be called a dining “area” or perhaps foyer, albeit an expansive one.

That bedroom has no closets, and pocket doors separate the space from what the broker has marketed as a dining “room.”

Among its limited number of assets are a washer/dryer, the modest updating of the baths and two basement storage lockers that convey with the co-op.

The original listing price of $1.55 million with maintenance of $1,900 a month was beyond reason.  After two reductions, the place is but a little more reasonable at $1.485 million.

Some buyers may be willing to put up with the awkwardness of chopped up or combined units.  However, they are well advised to bear in mind that someday they will be putting their homes on the market, and the market for such apartments is going to be small.

What a small market usually means is a lower price than the next owners may be willing to accept.

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

  • Currently used as a home and psychotherapist’s office, a 533-sf condo on the first floor of a 1988 doorman building that has a fitness room, playroom and garden in the 80s west of Broadway.  Smartly configured for serving a dual purpose and in good condition, the apartment has undersized rooms, an otherwise disproportionately large foyer/waiting room, Murphy bed in the bedroom, good closet space, refinished floor and small 1970s kitchen.  The listing price last June of $625,000 with common charges of $715 per month and real estate taxes of $592 was unrealistically high at $1,172 per square foot.  Now, the unit can be yours for $545,000.
  • In the high 60s west of Broadway, a combined two-bedroom co-op with plenty of wasted hallway, one enlarged portion of which is being marketed as an office.  On the plus side, the 1,200-sf apartment, renovated some seven years ago, are the bright northern light it enjoys, more or less open exposures, expanded modern kitchen and baths, through-wall air conditioning and separate laundry room (mostly unimproved) with ample closet space.  On the minus side are crown molding of plastic, curves in its pre-fabricated flooring, and a dining room that intrudes into the living room, from which it was carved.  (The two added dining room walls with windowed pocket doors can be removed rather easily.)  Even the listing broker agrees that the asking price of $1.595 million with monthly maintenance of $2,465 in a 1975 pet-friendly doorman building is too high by at least $150,000.
  • A depressingly overstuffed 575-sf one-bedroom co-op with a kitchenette in one corner of the living room in a Central Park block of the low 70s.  A wall unit and bed that a pole would love for its height dominate the bedroom, and the living room has so much furniture that it is hard to envision its potential.  The floors are scratched, crying out for attention, and the apartment’s windows look over a busy thoroughfare from a low level.  In a 1926 building with doorman and little else, the co-op had a $550,000 offering price with high monthly maintenance of $1,384 when I speculated that it would sell for approximately $500,000.  After the price was cut finally to $499,000 in August, it went under contract last week.
  • On West End Avenue in the low 90s, a two-bedroom, two-bath corner apartment.  With dining room, good closet space, bright western exposures, generally good condition and a kitchen improved several years ago to have stainless-steel countertops, Bosch dishwasher, otherwise modest appliances and cork-tiled floors, this co-op could have a washer/dryer installed in what is now a large pantry that once was a partial bath.  At its asking price of $1.495 million with very high maintenance of $2,511 in a 1927 building with attended elevator, the unit is way overpriced.

Tomorrow: Promises, promises

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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

Web site

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