clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Buyers Uptown: Hitting the Ground Running

New, 23 comments

Recently, we asked readers to contact us if they (a) happened to be in the market for real estate in NYC; and (b) cared to chronicle their experience for Curbed. Herewith, we continue with the narrative of our uptown Buyers, a family focused (at this point, anyway) on buying in Morningside Heights or vicinity.

After we narrowed our focus to the Upper Riverside Dr./Audubon Terrace area, we identified specific properties in the area. There are a few condo conversions as well as some apartments available in coop buildings that my calculations told me might work, even if we had to leave them vacant for a year or so before renting to conform to the coop rules.

Since we last wrote, we've made two trips to New York, one by myself and one with the family. Initially, we contacted brokers who'd listed the properties of interest, but we've now narrowed ourselves down to one broker who knows the areas and the buildings we're looking at. On the first trip, I looked at several apartments in one condo, as well as several other apartments in a nearby coop. The condo is a prewar building in good shape but no particular distinction. The conversions were "reasonably" priced ($500,000 range for an 800 sq. ft. one bedroom) and nicely executed, but there was some evidence of corner-cutting, such as hollow-core Home Depot-class doors and cheap light fixtures. Most of the apartments had views either of the street or of the backyards of the row of brownstones on the next street.

The coop building is much more distinctive, being a pre-World War I building with a huge amount of ornamentation and an imposing presence. I looked at three apartments in this building, including two resales and one renovated sponsor unit that hadn't yet hit the general market. One resale unit had a magnificent view of the river and of midtown, but at 800 sq. ft., seemed relatively small, and in "original" condition, seemed overpriced. The other resale unit was a larger (900 sq. ft.) unit with a large living room, small master bedroom, small but very well renovated kitchen, and a second very small bedroom or office. The sponsor unit was a very large one bedroom (1000 sq. ft.), renovated to a high standard—high-end appliances and kitchen cabinets, trim and tiger maple paneled doors stripped and refinished, etc.

On the second trip with the family, we looked at the condo again, as well as the two-bedroom resale unit and the sponsor unit in the coop. We also looked at another resale unit on the same line as the sponsor unit, and a fixer-upper coop unit on the East Side for balance (and not to be noted further). We also spent more time on the street in Audubon Terrace to check out the neighborhood more thoroughly.

The result of the trip was that we both fell in love with the neighborhood and with the sponsor unit in the coop. Though the neighborhood does not yet have the feel of the West Side below 96th St., all the potential seems to be there—the high architectural quality of the buildings, the winding streets, the proximity to the river, and so on. We looked for the signs of deterioration so familiar to us in Philadelphia such as excess trash, graffiti, and vacant storefronts, and we didn't see any.

We still have some unanswered questions about the area. Our biggest one is the synagogue walk. As we mentioned, the area is distant from the synagogue, and the one that appeals to us, on 126th St., may present a problem on Friday night. We are going to contact the president, as he had mentioned that some members came from Washington Heights. So perhaps walking as a group will solve our problems.

Our other major issue at this point is whether we will be able to rent out the sponsor unit in the coop from the outset. We don't know this right now, but we hope to give word in our next update.
· The Buyers Uptown: Narrowing the Nabes [Curbed]
· Introducing The Buyers, Uptown Edition [Curbed]