Monday, August 22, 2011

Noho co-ops: And now for something completely different.

Third in a series on what it costs to live in Noho and what you get for the money.

There is a vast difference between the co-op buildings and the condo buildings in Noho.  Forget apples and oranges.  It's more like the difference between a four-door Lexus and your grandmother.

As we've seen in previous posts, the condos are new, shiny and expensive.  They have amenities--doormen, or wine cellars, or dog spas, or valet parking.  Many were designed by starchitects.  Movie stars live in them.

With few exceptions, Noho co-ops don't have doormen.  The wine cellar might be a closet.  The dog spa is the bathtub or the pet place around the block.

They are typically artists' lofts, self-converted by the first artists who moved in years ago in the 60s and 70s before it was legal, lured by the large empty spaces and high ceilings which gave them room to make their art.

Note that while these began as strictly utilitarian art studios, the basics are stunning.  The high, often vaulted ceilings, the original, distressed floors, the sweeping open areas give them a charm and grace quite different from anything newly constructed.  Remember, they're inhabited by artists.  Artists like things that are beautiful.

Some of these lofts have been beautifully finished, frequently in a more interesting, less sterile style than the shiny new condos. 

Most of them are five to seven stories, with somewhere around 23 to 25 feet of street frontage and a depth of about 100 feet.  The lofts are full floors and normally net out at about 1700 or 1800 square feet, sometimes as much as 2000.

Ceilings are 10' or higher, windows are at either end with the back ones facing the back of another building.  (This makes for dark, quiet bedrooms.)

Once the lofts have changed hands a few times, they've been made much more apartment-like, with actual bedrooms and maybe even a second bathroom.

In most cases, somewhere along the line the co-op will have installed an automatic elevator, which usually opens directly into the loft.  However, some buildings still have manual elevators--the big freight kind where you pull a rope to make the elevator go up or down.  These elevators may or may not be summonable.

In buildings at the corner of the block, of course, there will be a long wall of windows.  Buildings next to vacant lots, or shorter buildings, may have lot-line windows punched through the long walls, but these will be lost if there's construction on the vacant lot, or if the shorter building is replaced with a taller one.

Nearly all of them legally require artist certification, granted by the Department of Cultural Affairs to those who can provide evidence that they are serious artists.  This evidence might be programs from gallery shows, or proof that a film was screened.  Weekend watercolorists will not qualify.

But some buildings accept the so-called "Soho letter," which indemnifies the co-op against any costs it incurs due to the residence of a non-certified person.

On the highly sought-after block of Bond Street between Lafayette and the Bowery, there are just two co-ops.

The date of construction of 39 Bond is lost in the mists of time, at least to Google, the AIA Guide to New York City, Charles Lockwood's "Bricks and Brownstone," and everywhere else I looked.

However, the building's brick facade and arched windows on the fifth and sixth stories suggest a date somewhere between 1880 and 1900.
[39 Bond is a beautiful building and I have very nice pictures of it, but Blogspot is absolutely refusing to allow me to paste them in here, so if you want to see it, you'll have to go in person.  On the other hand, it's an interesting block, architecturally and otherwise, so maybe you should anyway.]

Somewhat atypically, the building has 75' of street frontage and is 92' deep.  This allows for 13 units spread over its six stories.  The most recent sale was in February of 2008, when 2R, with two bedrooms, one bath, and 1400 s.f., closed for $1,425,550, or just over $1,000 p.s.f.

One wonderful feature of this building is that the maintenances are minuscule.

30 Bond

30 Bond, built in 1889, has six full floor units of about 2000 s.f. each.  Most recently, the fourth floor, newly renovated, closed in July of 2008 for $2,900,000.  The 7th floor, which had exclusive roof rights and was in "excellent" condition as per the broker, closed in March of 2007 for $3,550,000.  But the 5th floor, said to be in "good" condition, fetched only $1,895,000 a month before.

Maintenance is a reasonable 95 cents p.s.f.  There is one loft currently on the market, at $2,995,000.

Another typical Noho co-op is the seven story building at 40 Great Jones Street, with six full-floor residential lofts of about 1500 square feet each.  The most recent sale was the seventh floor which included exclusive roof rights and went for $1,900,000 in November of 2009.  The third floor also changed hands in August of that year, for $1,400,000.

Maintenances are $1,100 except for the 7th floor, which pays a bit more due to the roof rights.

Ambience note:  the ground floor houses Partners & Spade, which calls a "crazyspace and pop-art flea market.....Walking in, you'll feel as if you've entered a thinkspace at the intersection of Julian Schnabel's studio and Pee-wee's playhouse."

I can easily understand why Partners & Spade chose Noho for their whatever-it-is.

40 Great Jones Street


Of course, there are exceptions to the seven-story, full floor loft pattern.

Most of these were converted by developers during the 1980s.  Some comprise two or three buildings, often combined around an inner courtyard.  303 Mercer is one example.  The larger number of units in such a co-op spreads out the cost of a doorman enough to make it less than prohibitive.

The largest of these, 77 Bleecker, is actually three buildings, on Bleecker, Mercer and Broadway, built around 1930 and combined with new construction in 1984.  Bleecker Court, as it is known, has a total of 234 units, many of them duplexes or triplexes.  Prices average around $860 p.s.f.; maintenances about $1.66 p.s.f.

If there's anything else you want to about Noho, or any of its buildings, or anywhere else in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you can find me at, or 917-991-9549.  Cheers!

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