What do buyers of multi-million-dollar apartments get for their money?
Answer: Both more and less than you might imagine.
Virtually the only commonality among the apartments that I visited up and down the Upper West Side to focus on the question is, with few exceptions . . . space.
But whether listed for $3 million, $4 million or more than $5 million, none of the condos and co-ops was without drawbacks, proving one of my persistent observations to buyers: No one fails to make compromises at any price level.
One of the units I saw was just about perfect, but the condo’s location is neither popular nor convenient for the monied class. There is no private terrace or balcony, and the hike from the building’s entrance is long.
Another one does have a terrace, a massive 1,100 square feet of it. But the views of the Hudson River are interrupted by a collection of undistinguished buildings. And the amount of square footage inside is modest for an apartment with an asking price of $3.825 million.
A third co-op is close to Zabar’s has a handsome interior, is in a prime location, contains significant square footage and offers exposures worth less than a glance.
Yet another condo is even better situated, enjoying decent views, but the building is overloaded with investors.
Consider the 2,500-sf apartment with the massive living room just to the right. Among its other pluses are its three exposures from a high floor with terrific views of the park as well as to the skylines beyond.
I frankly loved just about everything in the three-bedroom, three-bath condo, which was built some 10 years ago. The layout leaves nothing to be desired, the huge kitchen is up to date, the design is beyond reproach, air conditioning is central, closet space is considerable, the windows are oversize and the condition is superb.
The only attributes I found wanting were the location in the low hundreds on Central Park West and the presence of but one balcony, that one a Juliet too narrow, by definition, to wander outside.
Still the building itself lacks no amenities; they range from garage to valet service to business center and fitness center with swimming pool.
The unit has a listing price of $3.35 million with common charges of $2,867 and real estate taxes of $1,451 a month.
In terms of its ambiance, the classic seven-room co-op couldn’t be more different. The 2,500-sf unit pictured at the top has all the conservatism of a white-shoe law firm or investment bank, communicating dignity at every turn.
With three bedrooms and baths, expansive eat-in kitchen and white-marble counter countertops and backsplashes, acres of staid mahogany furniture and numerous built-ins, this gracious co-op unfortunately lacks much in the way of appealing views.
The living room and the two major bedrooms face West End Avenue in the low 70s from a mid floor, while the other rooms are in the shadow of surrounding buildings. As for the dining room you see in the photo, those heavy drapes mask unpleasant courtyard vistas outside.
Having started at $3.895 million with monthly maintenance of $3,902, this unit in a pet-friendly 1925 building with only a part-time doorman and little else in the way of amenities has had two price cuts down to $3.535 million. It thus went under contract after Christmas.
There is another relatively expensive three-bedroom, three-bath unit a couple of blocks away on a corner of Broadway.
At $2.85 million, the interior doesn’t impress nearly as much as the other unit. Not only is the layout somewhat awkward, but the condo in a building with, from what I have heard, troubled finances is devoid of glamor.
In a full-service 1991 high-rise that has everything from a garage to swimming pool, the apartment contains original baths, suffers exposure to the avenue’s noise when windows are open and does have a renovated pass-through kitchen.
Among its pluses are nice views from a higher floor, excellent closet space and a small balcony (oddly placed outside the third bedroom).
The asking price of $2.85 million seems to overlook high monthly costs of $4,128 that include real estate taxes and common charges, yet a buyer snapped up the condo in late December.
You might think that an appealing apartment with an 1,100-sf terrace and an open kitchen that is literally for a chef, the owner, would be worth the asking price of $3.825 million with combined costs per month of $1,578.
But the interior space totals only 1,573 square feet, the exposures are merely okay, there are just two baths for three bedrooms and the undistinguished 1920 building in the less popular high 90s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive lacks a doorman, though it sports a roof deck, playroom and bike room. No wonder it remains on the market (with no price change) since it was listed early in December.
The most expensive apartment on today’s tour is a cavernous penthouse on Central Park with two terraces in the mid 60s. Rather than distill the features of the $35 million duplex myself, I’ll treat you to a bit of the listing broker’s description:
Spanning approximately 5,000 square feet, the sprawling, sundrenched residence is located on the 19th and 20th floors; with over 300 linear feet fronting Central Park. Both levels have expansive terraces and the apartment enjoys unparalleled views of Central Park. The space has been dramatically expanded and has never been offered as a combined unit. There has been an extensive amount of design and architectural planning to create this architectural masterpiece and over five million dollars of improvements have been made. . .
As you can imagine the space is not half bad. But it is half finished, a white box, as the listing makes clear, with crude walls and floor splashed with white paint, no appliances or anything else of importance. Even the staircase between the floors is a rickety temporary structure of planks and two-by-fours.
According to the listing, there is even more to the place than the views and the number of square feet:
Notable past owners include Calvin Klein, David Geffen, Marsha Mason, and Keith Barish, who is famously said to have purchased his apartment with the exchange of a Jasper Johns Flag painting. This iconic building and its terraces were featured in the movies Ghostbusters and Superman.
No doubt that the gloss of celebrity ownership and movie fame adds something to the value, which is considerable, owing to the possibilities.
The apartment, which requires monthly maintenance of $11,632 in the full-service building, buys a lot. If someone with the wherewithal to spend $35 million or, probably, less on such a home adds in the cost of renovation, you can see that the compromise is that expense.
By the same token, that outlay buys the opportunity to create something special that conforms with the purchaser’s own needs and taste.
All it takes a money, lots and lots of money. . . and a purchaser who sees the value. So far, no one has.
Tomorrow: Board behavior
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Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022