Out and About: $25 million is a lot of money

Fully paneled dining room of mansion on Central Park West.

Only buyers can determine what a property is worth to them, so there’s no way for someone who isn’t a lender’s appraiser to decide with any level of certainty the value of the mansion on Central Park West.

Twenty-five feet wide in the mid 80s, the house retains many original details such as carved mahogany mantles, bay windows, coffered ceilings, paneled dining room, very high ceilings, impressively scaled main floor and stained glass windows evocative of Tiffany.  There are three exposures and four outdoor spaces.

Three of the five floors were renovated to various standards, including central air conditioning; the top two floors have been gutted, exposing pipes and opening up walls and ceilings.

One of two gutted floors.

Containing more than 10,000 square feet of interior space, this corner residence dating to 1888 has approval from the city to add another 2,500 square feet that would encompass a swimming pool and additional rooms.

But what to make of the price?

It was listed originally in the summer of 2005 for $20 million and slid to $15 million before going off the market the following spring.  With a different broker, the house was offered once again last September, for $30 million, then had a reduction to $25 million in November.  Somewhere along the way, the plans for expansion received approval.

While a property such as this one is rare on Central Park West, it also is one that will require the expenditure of literally millions of dollars before its potential is fully realized.

Few buyers have the stomach for such a project, and fewer still have the resources to consider an undertaking of that magnitude.

The bottom line is how hard it is to know whether the price is right.  Certainly, it is a great deal of money.

Below some properties that I have seen and that are listed by various brokers:

  • In the mid 60s west of Broadway, a 650-sf co-op that was renovated five or so years ago.  The one-bedroom unit has parquet floors in excellent condition, bright and unobstructed southern exposures, a stylish open kitchen with diminutive high-end appliances, ceilings of standard height and a generally welcoming aspect.  In a 1975 doorman building with garage, garden and permissive policies, the apartment is offered at a fair price of $599,000 with maintenance of $1,263 plus a $164 assessment a month through January 2014 and so went under contract this month.
  • On West End Avenue in the low 100s, a corner two-bedroom, two-bath co-op with excellent views of nothing but brick walls from a low floor.  With adequate space, renovated maid’s room, washer/dryer and eat-in kitchen with worn soapstone countertops and high-end appliances, adequate closet space, extensive built-ins and floors in good condition, this 1,300-sf apartment in a 1916 building that has a part-time doorman shouldn’t sell for as much as its asking price of $1.15 million with monthly maintenance of $1,600.
  • A two-bedroom, two-bath condo on a corner of Columbus Avenue in the high 70s.  Flawlessly renovated at the end of 2010, the apartment has numerous winning features such as cleverly installed storage space, glass-tiled backsplash and guest bath, recessed lighting, washer/dryer, nine-foot ceilings, huge walk-in-closet, lovely floors and through-wall air conditioning in a pet-friendly 1984 building.  The reduced offering price of $1.625 million (from $1.699 million) with common charges of $954 and real estate taxes of $1,000 per month unrealistically reflects the owner’s purported $175,000 in renovation costs.
  • In the mid 90s close to Riverside Park, a poorly renovated co-op five flights of stairs from the street.  It has two bedrooms that barely meet the minimum legal requirements, sloppy workmanship and open views over a schoolyard.  The 750-sf unit has a single bath, space-consuming hallway and not a whit of charm.  In a dreadful 1930 pet-friendly building, the unit would have appealed only to buyers desperate for a second bedroom at its listing price of $449,000 with maintenance of $820 a month.  But the ask was cut to $419,000 last week — which may be enough.

Tomorrow: Mow ’em down

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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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