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Open House Agenda: Three Apartments to See This Weekend

By Donna M. Airoldi | October 18, 2013 7:12am
 These apartments require compromise on one element — be it light, location or price — but offer many perks in return.
One Drawback, But Many Perks
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MANHATTAN — Most buyers have a dealmaker or dealbreaker. But the most astute house hunters know that compromising on wish list items is key to finding a new home. Here are three listings that each have one big drawback. Yet they have other appealing features that could balance out the negatives and still make them dream homes for the right buyers.

257 Central Park West, Apt. 3H, Upper West Side, Manhattan
Studio/1 bath
400 square feet
Maintenance: $875/month
Open House: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2-3:30 p.m.

Lowdown: This alcove studio on the Upper West Side lacks natural light, but it’s fully renovated with luxury appliances, is in a full-service building and is across from Central Park — where there’s plenty of space to take in the sun.

Though a studio, it’s also well laid out and currently houses a full-size bed, couch and baby grand piano.

“It faces the courtyard, so it doesn’t get a lot of light, but it’s got everything else,” said Iris Shorin of Citi Habitats, who sold the unit to the current owner in 2007. “Renovations were completed in 2008, and the owner chose the finest of everything — bamboo floors, Italian tiles, all new lights. It’s like a little jewel.”

There’s also a Miele washer and dryer in the apartment’s nook, which Shorin said could be made into a storage closet or small office space.

“The staff is stellar, and the board is flexible,” Shorin said of the co-op, noting that parents could buy it for their kids or it could be used as a pied-à-terre.

Location: The 1906 building — a former hotel — is between West 85th and 86th streets, steps from the B and C trains and crosstown and downtown buses. The American Museum of Natural History is nearby at 81st Street. Barney Greengrass is two blocks west on Amsterdam Avenue, and Zabar’s is on Broadway at 80th Street.

Why put it on your open house calendar? What it lacks in light it makes up for in affordability, convenience and its mint condition.

"All [new owners] need to bring are pajamas and a toothbrush," Shorin said.

6306 Beach Front Road, Unit L, Arverne, Queens
5 Bedroom/4 Bath
Two-family house
2,700 square feet
Homeowners' fee: $166/month
Real estate taxes: $125/month
Open house: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lowdown: If you prefer the bustle of urban living, the Rockaways may feel like Siberia. But for buyers who crave a city and beach house in one — and who don’t mind a longer commute to Manhattan — this new two-family house, part of the Arverne by the Sea development, comes with plenty of perks.

For the price of an average one-bedroom in Manhattan, you get a three-bedroom "owner's" apartment, plus a two-bedroom unit to rent out. There’s also an attached garage, patio and roof terrace with ocean views.

Taxes are abated until 2028, and owners are required to live in one of the two homes, said Natalie McCray, of Laffey Fine Homes.

“This unit was our model for the ‘Laguna style,’” McCray said, explaining that while most units come with carpeted floors and Formica countertops, this one has crown moldings, hardwood floors in the living room and stainless steel appliances.

Construction on the development, with some 270 homes planned, started in 2008, with the final phase scheduled for completion in summer 2014, McCray added.

The units weathered both Irene and Sandy.

“The New York Times did an article about us. There was no damage, other than losing a few roof tiles, and no water to the insides of the homes,” said McCray, who moved to Arverne by the Sea this summer. “There is $100 million of infrastructure to prevent flooding. Everything is underground. There are no overhead wires in our community.”

Location: The house is a half-block from the boardwalk and ocean. Shops and restaurants are near the 67th Street/Arverne stop on the A train, a few blocks away. There’s a large Stop ‘n’ Shop on the next block, McCray said. Ownership includes a one-year membership at the new YMCA at 73rd Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Transit options also include the QM17 express bus and LIRR at Far Rockaway. Ferry service ($2 each way) runs to East 34th Street and Pier 11 near Wall Street.  “The service runs to January," McCray said, "but we’re trying to get it extended year-round.”

Why put it on your open house calendar? It’s a chance to live by the ocean yet have easy access to the city — albeit with a long commute — without having to move to the suburbs.

“We’re seeing a lot of people from Flushing and the North Shore move here,” McCray said. “You can work all day and when you come home, you can go out on your rooftop deck or to the beach and feel like you’re on vacation."

21 E. 22nd St., Apt. 8A, Flatiron District, Manhattan
1 Bedroom/1 bath
1,250 square feet
$1.5 million
Maintenance: $1,597/month
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 20, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Lowdown: The $1.5 million price tag for this one-bedroom might raise eyebrows, but there's a payoff: It’s a converted factory loft with 11-foot ceilings that's large enough to turn into a two-bedroom, and it has a protected view of Madison Park plus an unobstructed view of the Empire State Building.

“The buildings looking over the park sold their air rights to One Madison Avenue, the big black skyscraper, so they gave up rights to build,” said Brian Meier, of Douglas Elliman. “Other apartments in New York have views like this, but there are low buildings in front, so there’s the fear they could build up and block the view. But this view [of the park] is forever protected.”

The price per square foot is reasonable, too, for the area, which according to StreetEasy averages $2,066.

“With a lot around the park, like [the newly converted] 10 Madison Square West, it’s $2,500 per square foot, but [this unit] is way below, at closer to $1,300,” Meier said.

The building housed one of the city’s first tobacco factories, then was a printing factory and then was used for offices. It was converted into a residential co-op in 1982, Meier said.

The apartment is quiet, but one downside is that it hasn’t been touched in 28 years. The current owner used it mostly as a storage space for his antique business, so it’s in great shape, but the kitchen and bathroom could use updating, Meier noted.

Location: Madison Square Park is a hot area right now, not just for real estate, but also for shopping, restaurants and entertainment. The park is home to the original Shake Shack, art installations, sports and special events, and a kid’s concert series in the summer. There’s a popular food-truck area in the triangle formed by Fifth Avenue and Broadway crossing 23rd Street, in front of Eataly. Also at Fifth and West 24th Street, the southern-style Bo restaurant is due to open soon.

“The area has become a non-tourist mecca for real New Yorkers,” Meier said.

Six train lines on 23rd Street are within two avenues, with additional express options at Union Square, just five blocks south.

Why put it on your open house calendar? Even with prices in the millions, sales are rare in the building, with owners often buying next-door units and combining them, Meier said.

“It’s one of the least expensive properties facing the park. The maintenance isn’t high, there’s a full-time doorman, multiple entrances, and the owner could use it as a live/work space,” he added.

“And with the lights from the Empire State Building, looking up Madison Avenue, it’s such a serene city view. You’re not looking down, you’re looking through the city. It’s different from your normal postcard view.”