It's the dog days of August and even our normally persistent quest for entertaining downtown real estate tidbits is slowing down as we are finally getting around to taking some vacation! So, you might ask, what does a downtown real estate blogger do on vacation? Well, in addition to going to the beach, we go see real estate in other areas of course!
If you read this blog regularly, you know that we are looking to buy a Lower Manhattan apartment but are completely horrified (yes, still) by the price point of many apartments that we've seen. Ground floor studios for $500k? Check. 1BRs for over $1 million? Check. 6th floor walk-ups for almost $900k? Check. New construction without washers/dryers in the unit? Yep, check. So...given this ummm...pricing situation, we thought that while we had a bit of time on our hands, we'd try to answer the age old question that we (and many other Manhattanites) ponder at least occassionally: Exactly how much is our Manhattan location worth to us?
Or alternatively, is the amount of space that we can get in say Brooklyn or New Jersey for a lower price actually worth leaving Manhattan for? We'll post about our experiences in the outer boroughs semi-regularly, but we thought we'd kick it off with the most interesting one.
A couple of weeks ago, we finally visited Red Hook, an area of Brooklyn that was the location for The Real World: Brooklyn (yes, this turns us on), is home to Ikea (we can't believe it was so close all this time), a huge Fairway, and a warehouse-y but cute waterfront area. Granted, there are maybe like 6 bars and restaurants in all of Red Hook, but it seems promising and doesn't have a glut of new construction (are you listening FiDi?) or really, any new construction at all. We were surprised therefore, to come upon a listing for the King Richard Carriage Houses, a set of five brand-new townhouse-like units at the intersection of King and Richards (gosh, just like William Beaver) in Red Hook.
Instead of just trying to get Curbed to link to our articles for a change, we actually used the site (isn't it so great?) to find out that the carriage houses were converted by an area resident from a single story garage to four four-story homes (and one smaller, three story residence). Priced between $699,000 - $899,000 (yes, the previously reported price chops have been, well, further chopped) and boasting 1,200 - 2,000 sq feet, ample outdoor space and attached garage parking (did we win the lotto?), these seemed umm...super duper given that for a similar amount we can purchase a tiny 1BR
Anywho, on to the houses themselves. We started with the most expensive townhouse (which is also the model unit). Listed for $899,000 (down from more than $1.1 million originally), the unit has an attached garage (basically, imagine a garage in your living room) which actually gets the best light in the entire living area via picturesque glass and iron doors. The house also features four (very steep) floors of living space. In fact, we couldn't believe how vertical this residence is as we climbed and climbed the four full stories from the living room to the master bedroom. The finishes in the unit are decent - a nice open kitchen, attractive bathrooms and decent hardwood flooring.
We never thought we'd say this, but there is so much outdoor space in this unit that there's almost no point to it. All three of the bedrooms have their own large (rubberized) balconies and that is in addition to a huge roof deck. Unlike other townhouses however, these units do not have a garden, we think because the plot is too small to support both a large living area and ground-level outdoor space. $0 in maintenace plus around $2800 per year of property taxes (take that Battery Park!) made us start fantasizing about actually building equity (instead of throwing money away on worthless ground rent, property taxes, and common charges for things like an outdoor rain shower that we don't give a hoot about). Overall though, although we liked the houses, they're just too darn vertical for us (who the heck wants to climb all of those stairs, which are btw, an obstacle to kids, parents and even, like an aging pet) and we really, really don't want to make food in the kitchen and then have to climb 40 feet to serve it outside.
But we liked Red Hook. Even though it's far from any subway stop, the closest of which is 7 minutes by car, we can take the ferry to Wall Street and we think the neighborhood has real character and an extraordinary amount of potential.