Out and About: Beware of false hopes

I snapped this photo from the north balcony.  Below is how the project appears from the living room, from which the balcony rail is just visible.

From many apartments in the 37-story high-rise built in 1967 on Amsterdam Avenue in the low 60s, the views always impressed visitors.

Some of the condos retain those vistas, but those facing the site of a massive Fordham University construction project haven’t been so fortunate.  Even those above the 22-story building must contend with an ugly foreground.

I’ve written in the past about concerns all buyers should have about lot-line windows. This issue is different, and it centers on views that are protected by zoning restrictions and landmarking.

In other words, it is not enough to worry about the possibility of construction that could rise some day against your potential new home. Buyers also have to ascertain whether the area beyond is protected as well.

The owners of this apartment, on the market for $3.6 million, probably didn’t know of Fordham’s plans to build feet away.

Listed at various times and prices since June of 2010, when the asking price was $4.25 million, the apartment shown here results from the combination of two units.  As result, it has exposures in three directions, and they wow to the north, south and east.

There is much to commend the 2,250-sf condo, which gleams with stark white walls, elegant sliding doors, stylish baths, excellent closets, hardwood floors, unfortunately of engineered oak, and two balconies.

The kitchen is a standout with its massive center island open to the entrance and the probably 40-foot long by 10-foot wide expanse that links the two units.  There are acres of black granite, appliances of requisite stainless steel and handsome cabinetry.

Attractive as it is, the kitchen dominates the apartment, which includes four bedrooms and four baths.  That’s because it accentuates a layout that screams combo because of that essentially useless space.

The price history is fascinating.

Public records indicate that the current owners apparently bought the place in 2004 (too early for records to be available), when it was listed for $2.4 million.

Three months after those owners first put the apartment on the market, they dropped the price to $3.995 million.  With a new broker three months later, the ask was $3.875 million, then $3.675 million and then $3.495 million.

When yet another broker took over last October, the price went up, to $3.875 million, at which level it briefly went to contract this past spring.  Now there is a new broker and the latest price of $3.6 million.

I doubt that the owners had a hint of Fordham’s plans when they purchased their home in a full-service building, yet they should have known or been told that the land just outside wasn’t protected from obstructive construction.  If they had hopes that nothing would mar their view, those hopes have proved to be false.

It is hard for me to say whether the university’s project has been the chief obstacle to the apartment’s sale.  But it isn’t hard to guess what other issues have stood in the way.

Below are some other recently visited apartments that various brokers have listed:

  • In the high 80s west of Amsterdam Avenue, a two-bedroom, one-bath co-op that has undergone what is incorrectly characterized as a “top of the line gut renovation.”  If hollow-core doors, second-rate appliances and a tub no higher than a wading pool are top of the line, then buyers also will fall for the dark rear bedroom with small closet, the barred windows of this 700-sf first-floor unit, the cramped kitchen and the small living room for a price of $569,000 with monthly maintenance of $880 in an 1895 low-rise of no distinction.
  • A 750-sf one-bedroom apartment that hasn’t lacked for a woman’s touch in Morningside Heights on Riverside Drive. Renovated within the last five years, the one-bedroom co-op has partially open eastern exposures; skim-coated walls; galley kitchen with cherry cabinets, mid-range appliances and granite countertops; combo washer/dryer; new windows; and Italianesqe finishes in the bath with large tiles floor to ceiling.  In a 1929 building without a doorman, the unit is listed at the appropriate reduced price of $685,000 with maintenance per month of $1,020.
  • West of Broadway in the very high 70s, a five-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath gorgeously renovated duplex that is billed as a townhouse.  There are an expansive center-island kitchen of extraordinary quality;  inordinately enormous, if impressive, foyer and upstairs hall joined by a sweeping staircase; a baronial wood-paneled dining room; automatic sound, lighting and temperature systems; and Calcutta marble in the baths of this 4,200-sf condo, which has common charges of $2,850 and real estate taxes of $3,339 a month.  In a 1906 wedding cake of a pet-friendly full-service building loaded with amenities, the unit on a low floor had an asking price since June of $12.5 million, which translates to a heady $2,975 per square foot, until it was taken off the market late last week.
  • In the low 90s between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue, an 800-sf co-op on the third floor of a walk-up.  With a difficult layout because of its combination with an adjoining apartment to add a second bedroom, the apartment looks into courtyards, has a pleasant but inexpensively improved kitchen, one modestly updated bath, a living room barely more than 10 feet wide and floors beyond one more refinishing.  In a 1910 pet-friendly low-rise sans doorman, this 800-sf place in good condition is listed at $649,000 with maintenance of $986 a month and will sell for something north of $600,000.  It went into contract last month.

Tomorrow: Hear no evil

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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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