Out and About: A walk on the upper high side

Chef's kitchen -- owner actually is a chef -- is open to living area and enjoys views through 12-foot-high windows to terrace and beyond.

Close to Fairway but far from contemporary, this beautifully renovated co-op in superlative condition has a $3.535 million asking price.

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.

Chef's kitchen -- owner actually is a chef -- is open to living area and enjoys views through 12-foot-high windows to terrace and beyond.

Chef’s kitchen — owner actually is a chef — is open to living area and enjoys views through 12-foot-high windows to terrace.

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 Continue reading

Out and About: Homes for buyers on tight budget

Apartment building

Built in 1910, this low-rise has 20 apartments on five floors — and no elevator — but represents value for a hardy soul.

They exist, those apartments for buyers on a tight budget.

It will not surprise them that low prices inevitably mean compromise, usually serious tradeoffs for homeownership in Manhattan.

Among the issues they can more or less count on are lack of light, excess of stairs, cramped quarters, dismal condition, inconvenient location, noisy streets or neighbors, grim public spaces, minimal amenities such as doorman or live-in super, or persistent visits by creatures parading on more than two legs. Continue reading

Out and About: How about Riverside Drive?

A view of Riverside Drive last fall.

In some circles, Riverside Drive has never quite measured up to the desirability of Fifth Avenue or Central Park West, even though it was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.

But residences on the tree-lined serpentine roadway, which runs from 72nd to 181st streets along Riverside Park and the river beyond, are much in demand.

Lobbies, like this frosted beauty at 180 Riverside Drive, were designed to impress.

With many of them selling at a premium, the apartments in stately pre-war apartment buildings and converted mansions, for the most part, have boasted among their occupants notables such as Damon Runyon, George Gershwin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Hannah Arendt, Saul Bellow, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Paul Krugman, according to Wikipedia.  My former sister-in-law and brother-in-law live there, and my first home in Manhattan was there as well, at No. 425.

Fictional characters have included the leads of 6 Rms Riv Vu by my late friend Bob Randall, the Will & Grace mainstays, Liz Lemon of 30 Rock, copywriter Freddy Rumsen of Mad Men and White Collar‘s Neal Caffrey.

When I checked one day last year to see how many apartments were available on Riverside Drive, I found Continue reading

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: The little things matter

Can you see yourself here?

When it comes to showing an apartment to its best advantage, the little things count.

A listing broker can’t change an awkward layout, dress up a kitchen with granite countertops or eliminate blocked exposures.

But a savvy broker knows how to alter a listing so that prospective buyers can imagine themselves in it.  The things that mar the listing in the photograph above overwhelm the eye and cloud the vision, but they are, in the scope of things, small matters easily fixed.

I saw this three-bedroom, three-bath co-op on Riverside Drive in the very low 90s not long after it had been offered for sale, at $2.795 million with maintenance of $2,867 a month.

The 1,905-sf unit has much going for it Continue reading

Out and About: A dormitory for $10.5 million

In a classy full-service Lincoln Square high-rise, the condo is on a very high floor with superlative views of the skyline, parks and rivers in three directions.

Monthly nut: $7,082.  Asking price:$10.5 million.

Covering 4,134 square feet, the apartment is undeniably spacious.  There are a living room (22’7″ x 19’4″), den (11’2″ x 10′) and “great room” (21’3″ x 16’3″) at the western end of the place.

Visitors entering at the opposite end of a nearly 40-foot-long hallway, termed “gallery” for marketing purposes, peer down a very long tunnel past the doors of five of the unit’s six bedrooms splayed left and right like a high-class college dormitory or hotel.

At the end of the “gallery,” Continue reading

Out and About: The trouble with boxes

What buyer doesn’t savor the idea of a desperate seller?

Almost nothing spells desperation more clearly than the sight of moving boxes piled in a corner.

So it was when I stopped by an open house of a one-bedroom co-op in the very low 90s between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue.  The sound of prospective purchasers smacking their lips was practically audible.

And well they may have appreciated the 750-sf corner unit, which contains an above average eat-in kitchen, spacious living room, plenty of closet space, nicely updated bath with subway tiles, through-wall air conditioning and generally open exposures in three directions.

The only issue worth noting is Continue reading