Out and About: The allure of Hamilton Heights

View of a Hamilton Heights from top floor of nicely renovated townhouse offered for $2.695 million.

View of a Hamilton Heights from top floor of a nicely renovated 4,400-sf townhouse that is offered for $2.695 million.

For buyers accustomed to neighborhoods farther south, Hamilton Heights may represent challenges with respect to convenience, amenities and street life.

Yet on a recent tour of an even dozen open houses, I was struck anew with how vibrant the area is and how great is the value of properties in contrast to more popular parts of Manhattan.

As the New York Times has noted, the massive Columbia University development now rising to the south suggests that Hamilton Heights is on the verge of a boomlet:

. . . Hamilton Heights, largely unknown to those who have never cracked the 100s on the No. 1 train, is preparing for an influx of teachers, students and support workers. It is also anticipating the higher real estate prices that usually come with proximity to an Ivy League institution.

The Heights stretches from the Hudson River to Edgecombe Avenue, from West 133rd Street to West 155th, the newspaper observes.

Named for Alexander Hamilton, whose clapboard-sided country house, Hamilton Grange, was recently moved a short distance to a prominent berth in St. Nicholas Park, the neighborhood also claims City College and its more than 15,000 students, most of them commuters, as a notable component.

Interior of townhouse on street shown above.

Interior of townhouse on street shown above and still seeking a buyer.

Besides Riverside Park, other recreational highlights are Riverside State Park and, as mentioned above, St. Nicholas Park, the former offering an attractive grab-bag of opportunities from swimming to basketball atop a  barely noticeable sanitation plant.

The neighborhood is served by four subway stops and, of course, a number of buses.  There are a Fairway several blocks to the southwest plus a wide variety of lesser supermarkets and bodegas along Broadway.

The residences I saw on my rambles from W. 135th to W. 148th streets between St. Nicholas Avenue on Sugar Hill and Riverside Drive ranged in asking price from $249,000 for a co-op to $3.5 million (also for rent for $14,000 a month) for a townhouse.  Farther south, each of the nine apartments and three single-family houses easily could be double in price.

Below is a sample of those that I visited, some more aggressively priced than others:

  • With two tiny bedrooms in addition to the small living room, a co-op with income limited to $72,150 for one person, $82,500 for two and $92,775 for three.  Renovated eight years ago, the apartment has a bath and pass-through kitchen that were inexpensively improved, and the south-facing bedrooms are reasonably sunny given the brick walls opposite them.  On a lower floor of a 1910 elevator building that does not require board approval and accepts pets, the unit was originally listed in December 2011 for $249,000, the current asking price after some ups and downs, with monthly maintenance of $380.
  • A gloriously restored 1892 corner townhouse that has 17 rooms, each one seemingly more impressive than the other, including the bath on the parlor floor.  Among the features are original details in overwhelming quantity and complexity, 10 bedrooms, six marbled-tiled baths, wood-burning fireplaces, video security and a garden that, unfortunately, is easily accessed and viewed from the street.  Annual expenses amount to $17,132 for this handsome property, listed for $3.5 million in mid-Janury.
  • Views of the Hudson River from the two spacious bedrooms and living/dining area with its so-so open kitchen are highlights of a 925-sf co-op on the top floor of a 1904 dog-averse building that has a painfully slow elevator, washer/dryer on each floor, live-in super and part-time doorman.  It is offered following two small reductions for $600,000 after going on the market in January.  A buyer bit earlier this month.
  • A duplex penthouse nicely renovated in 2008 and occupied since then by a single tenant, an interior designer.  With three bedrooms, two baths, exposed brick walls, 10-foot ceilings, dark-stained bamboo floors, two terraces, open kitchen in granite and stainless steel, and stylish finishes elsewhere, this handsome 1,436-sf condo up four flights of stairs has been seeking a buyer for more than two years, originally at $899,000 and now at $999,000 with common charges of $295 and real estate taxes of $249 per month.
  • Delivered vacant, a four-family townhouse that has had annual income of $111,600 with annual expenses of $16,587.  This 1920 property of no distinction has suffered merely adequate updating, though each of the apartments has private outdoor space, air conditioning, washer/dryer and small kitchens with granite countertops and moderately priced stainless-steel appliances.  It has been on and off the market since 2007 — that’s no typo– for as much as $2.65 million but now at $1.6 million after a sale fell through in January.  A contract out for signature since mid-April has yet to be signed.

Tomorrow: War games

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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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