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Three Cents Worth: East Side Values Lofted

[This week chartman Jonathan Miller plots the price per square foot of Downtown Manhattan lofts (pink) and Upper East Side condos and coops (blue) since 1989. The green bars represent the difference between the two data sets, which has become more or less negligible. Click on the image to exand.]

One of the earliest signs of life in the Manhattan real estate market after the 1990-1991 recession was the discovery of the Downtown loft market as a new housing sector. While the use of manufacturing space for residential living was nothing new, what made the mid-1990s loft boom noteworthy was the fact that many of the buyers migrated from the East Side, known for its pre-war doorman buildings and condominium towers.

During this time, I distinctly remember banking, advertising, real estate execs buying units in Artist in Residence zoning districts. These buyers weren't artists, but I had one financier tell me, "You haven't seen one of my deals, they are pure 'art'."

This pattern got me wondering about how the shift affected housing prices when comparing the Downtown loft market (primarily south of 14th Street) to the East Side (which includes the Upper East Side, Carnegie Hill, Yorkville, East End Avenue and Sutton/Beekman). I looked at the average price per square foot of co-ops and condos, adjusted for inflation. I also calculated the price per square foot difference between the two segments.

While its certainly not surprising that prices trended up significantly in recent years, the dollar difference between Downtown lofts and the East Side has declined over the period, despite the differences in housing stock type and living experience. In other words, there appears to be more price parity on a per square foot basis between the two markets. The per square foot costs are far more consistent now than they were 10 years ago. This says a lot about the general homogenization of pricing throughout Manhattan after the recent housing boom.
· Downtown Lofts and the East Sid [Miller Samuel]