Out and About: Morningside co-ops for a song

When buyers are in search of a bargain in Manhattan, many tend to rule out the Upper West Side.

Morningside Heights arguably is beyond that neighborhood, but a complex at the edge of Columbia University, Manhattan School of Music and Union Theological Seminary is also a stone’s throw from excellent transportation, shopping and the West Side’s numerous other amenities.

Morningside Gardens

The first urban renewal project in the city, the cooperative complex is called Morningside Gardens, which has comprised six mid-to-high rise buildings and 987 apartments on eight acres since 1957.

Nine religious and academic institutions in the area banded together with David Rockefeller to help sponsor the project and to ward off further urban blight.

While the complex has an overwhelmingly institutional ambiance Continue reading

Out and About: Welcome home, Rosemary

The Dakota

It probably isn’t a stretch to venture that the Dakota, at 1 W. 72nd St., is the most photographed apartment building in Manhattan and possibly the whole world.

It is, of course, where John Lennon lived at the time of his death in front of the building, never mind a slew of other celebrities.  It also was shown as the site where Rosemary’s baby was born.

Departing from my norm of providing only vague addresses of the properties that I visit, let me tell you about a co-op that went on the market there in April.  And it is one memorable apartment. Continue reading

Out and About: Kitchens don’t have to talk

Although kitchens don’t have to talk, they speak loudly to prospective buyers.

In the mid 80s on a corner of Broadway, one co-op sits above another in the same line with the same dimensions.  Although the kitchens do not represent the only difference between the units, they may well sway buyers more than anything else.

The renovated corner apartments, which can be purchased separately or together from the same owner, are listed at only $100,000 apart.  The gap between their ultimate selling prices is likely to be much bigger.

In the photos (above, the less expensive co-op), perhaps you can see why one kitchen (below, the costlier unit) might be responsible alone for a buyer’s willingness to pay more than for the other apartment . Continue reading

Out and About: Two too awkward for words

Apartments that have been truncated or expanded almost always suffer from contorted flow. (Flickr photo by hpb_pix)

From virtually the moment you enter some apartments, the sense may emerge that something is very wrong.

Although a bad smell, a rundown appearance or a suffocating gloom can be the source of the sense, a bastardized layout also can account for a more subtle — if no less offputting — reaction

Such is the case for a co-op or condo that has been chopped from a larger one and, frequently, an apartment that has been combined from one or two adjacent units.

Two apartments in the low 100s suffer from such a disconcerting burden.  Continue reading

Out and About: Floors can be winning or wanting

In my years as a real estate broker, I naturally ask buyers what is important to them in their new home.

A great kitchen?  Proximity to a subway?  Central air conditioning?  A doorman?

Floor in new development.

The responses vary, but not once has a prospective buyer suggested to me that good flooring was essential.

Yet floors can be the, uh, foundation of the emotional response buyers have when they enter an apartment.  The type and condition of the flooring may well make the difference between a sale and a search that continues.

Tastes vary when it comes to floors, and just as kitchen styles have evolved, so have floors.  There was a time when Continue reading

Out and About: Vintage spaces worth preserving

Kitchen of relatively recent vintage that needs not be preserved.

When I glance into some baths or kitchens that retain their original character and their nearly original condition, I confess turning a shade of green.

Not all buyers have the same reaction, however.

They see “old” when I see preserved.  They see potential to be realized when I see authenticity to be celebrated. Continue reading

Luxe Manhattan condo faces bankruptcy auction

View from terrace of a West Harlem penthouse to be auctioned off July 31 at a Harrison, N.Y. law office

A West Harlem penthouse with unobstructed views of Central Park and the surrounding skyline is headed for a bankruptcy auction at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 31.

Public records show that the two-bedroom, two-bath condo with 1,000-sf wraparound terrace at 125 Central Park North was purchased for $1.4 million earlier this year, and the starting bid is $950,000. According to the announcement, the value is $1.9 million. Continue reading

Out and About: Rare foreclosure not an easy sale

There’s nothing like pink in a living room, the highlight of a foreclosed co-op on the Upper West Side.

So few are sales of foreclosed apartments in Manhattan that they rarely appear on the open market, as opposed to foreclosure auctions on the courthouse steps.

One such apartment surfaced recently between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue in the mid 90s.

This one-bedroom co-op in a pet-friendly 1948 low-rise that has a part-time doorman along with bike, storage and laundry rooms needs a total renovation.  That means Continue reading

Out and About: You are where you eat

Perfect example of a poorly combined apartment.

“Dining room” surely is one of the most commonly abused labels in the world of real estate sales as the term relates to space in an apartment.

(Well, I have to admit that “walk-in closet” is one of several other strong contenders.  Sometimes, “bedroom” is as well.

“Dining room” sometimes refers to other spaces that are tucked into alcoves or other odd corners of a property.  Honest sellers and their brokers may refer to “dining area,” though I’d say the term is dishonestly used just because a small table can be jammed into foyer.

The floorplan above is for a combined apartment on West End Avenue in low 100s.  Although the co-op has been expensively gut renovated, it has been impossibly designed.

The combination just doesn’t work as currently configured.

The dining room doubles as a foyer, or, more accurately, Continue reading

Out and About: Now I’ve seen everything

The apartment was okay, but access was about as strange as I’ve ever seen.

In the very low 100s between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, the co-op is in handsome 1905 townhouse with flourishes such as decorative columns and a bay window.

Go up to the entrance, however, and there the oddity likely will force you to an abrupt halt.  Continue reading