Out and About: Desperate measures warranted?

Truncated living room in an Upper West Side studio apartment.

Truncated living room in an Upper West Side studio apartment.

Given the cost of residential real estate in Manhattan, nothing could be more understandable than buyers’ willingness to match the imperfect co-op or condo that they decide to purchase with the amount of money they can afford.

Consequently, many folks in search of a new home readily accept the necessity of turning a two-bedroom apartment into a three-bedroom unit, an alcove studio into a one-bedroom home.

But they invariably pay a price both in aesthetics and, paradoxically, flexibility.  Gone the dining area, the well-placed window in the living room, the airy ambiance.

So it is with junior one-bedroom apartments in which dining areas becomes cramped bedrooms.  Walking into such a unit, a visitor almost invariably is struck by the sacrifice its occupants have shouldered, however reluctantly.

And so with the studio apartment shown above in the mid 80s between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.

The unit has many pluses, including great condition, sunken living room and sleek appearance.  But someone decided to wall off a sleeping area at the far end of the living room.

As a result, the truncated public space has no window.  Anyone sitting there must feel like a prisoner counting the days in a cell or a patient condemned to staring for long minutes at the walls of a physician’s examination room.

Other features include updated bath and narrow kitchen, which has half-size appliances for the most part, new hardwood floors and freshly painted walls.

However much the owner wanted a separate bedroom, the apartment has been harmed immeasurably in my view, even with its improvements.

Although they are far from infallible, architects exist and design for a reason.  To undo what they have carefully considered comes with a price.

Regarding the co-op in question, it was listed in February for $390,000 with monthly maintenance of $582.

A buyer snapped it up within two weeks, perhaps more as a reflection of the high cost of renting than of the practicality of the unit’s renovation, and it traded last week.  Let’s just hope for the new owner’s sake that a roommate isn’t contemplated.

Below are some of the other apartments that I have seen and that various other brokers have listed:

  • On a Central Park block in the low 70s, a renovated 1,650-sf co-op.  With two bedrooms plus a maid’s room now used as an office, two and a half baths, washer/dryer, and a pretty and functional high-end kitchen open to a dining room, this airy apartment facing north is lovely.  In a pet-friendly 1928 building that has little in the way of amenities, including doorman, the unit is listed within reason for $1.999 million with maintenance of $2,300 per month.
  • A combined condo that has four bedrooms and four baths on West End Avenue in the very low 100s.  There are central air conditioning, washer/dryer, big dated eat-in kitchen,well-proportioned rooms, floors in very good condition, open exposures in one of three directions and more than 2,300 square feet in this rambling apartment with considerable potential but not a scintilla a charm.  The 1927 building has no doorman or significant other amenities, but extra storage can be purchased with the unit, which is offered appropriately for $2.995 million with monthly common charges of $1,702, real estate taxes of $1,212 and assessment of $723.  The condo went under contract in three weeks.
  • A neglected alcove studio that suffers by contrast to its presence in a full-service 1987 high-rise that has a range of amenities from garage to swimming pool and basketball court in the low 60s west of Lincoln Center.  With apparently original interior kitchen, windowless bath also of original vintage, parquet floors, standard-height ceilings, good closet space and a balcony with unappealing views south and west, the 645-sf apartment had an asking price of “only” $650,000 with steep common charges of $850 and real estate taxes of $561 a month.  Miraculously, it changed hands a couple of weeks ago.
  • In the high 90s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, a well renovated 1,214-sf condo that has two smallish bedrooms, plus a maid’s room that doubles as laundry room, an outsize dining room between the foyer and everything else, lovely kitchen with cherry cabinetry, exposures south over a cross street and otherwise into a courtyard, a handsome hall bath, and a half bath tucked far away in the maid’s room beyond the kitchen.  Its asking price of $1 million with common charges of $613 and real estate taxes of $305 monthly was right on target, the result being its closing in mid-March.
  • A 1,000-sf co-op in Morningside Heights between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue in a 1923 doorman building that has a garage and roof deck.  With two bedrooms, one bath, exposures into a courtyard from the living room and second bedroom, adequate closet space, approval to add a washer/dryer, and a newly renovated kitchen that has so-so appliances, Corian coutertops and nice cabinets, the apartment has an attractive asking price of $750,000 with maintenance of $1,676 a month.

Tomorrow: The kings are dead?

To take your own bite out of the Big Apple, you have the option here to search all available properties privately.

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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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