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Open House Agenda: Five Apartments to See This Weekend

By Donna M. Airoldi | February 28, 2014 7:40am
 Open houses for those on a budget.
Budget-Friendly Apartments
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NEW YORK — Luxury apartments may make nice eye candy, but budget-conscious buyers need practical spaces that represent a good deal as well as a good investment, like these five apartments. 

33-35 81st St., Apt. 6D, Jackson Heights, Queens
1 Bedroom/1 Bath
Approximately 650 square feet
Maintenance: $574 per month
Open House: Sunday, March 2, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Lowdown: Many apartments in Jackson Heights offer good value, but this one-bedroom has the added bonus of being a top-floor corner unit with “amazing light” from eastern and northern exposures and “views to the Bronx and Westchester,” said Armen Meschian of Exit Realty.

Prior owners updated the galley kitchen, and though the bathroom is original to the apartment, it’s been kept in “good shape.” The entire building has new windows, and there is no wait list for a $165-per-month parking space in the building’s garage.

When a deal for the unit fell through, the seller and brokers reassessed the market, "saw an uptick and movement," and increased the price by $13,000, Meschian said.

Location: The Donner Gardens Co-op, developed in the early 1950s, is on the border of the Jackson Heights Historic District. Unit 6D overlooks The Towers, the famous 1924 garden-apartment complex where Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock and other Hollywood royalty once lived.

Plenty of ethnic shops and restaurants are nearby, including the new “Arepa Lady” store at 77th Street and Roosevelt Avenue. At 78th Street is the Jackson Heights Green Market. The 7 train is 3.5 blocks away at Roosevelt and 82nd; the QM22 express bus is at 82nd and 31st Avenue.

Why put it on your open house calendar? Prices for apartments in Jackson Heights are only going up and sales are happening quickly. “Last weekend, we listed and sold two apartments, including a one-bedroom for $318,000," Meschian said.

301 E. 22nd St., Apt. 8B, Gramercy Park, Manhattan
Studio/1 Bath
Approximately 400 square feet
Maintenance: $853 per month
Open House: Sunday, March 2, By Appointment Only

Lowdown: Though only 400 square feet, the use of virtual staging "shows you can really fit everything you need into that type of space,” said Kathy Jones of Douglas Elliman.

The owners completed high-end renovations in the bathroom and kitchen, adding cherry-wood cabinets, but they “used it as a pied a terre and stayed there no more than six times a year,” Jones said. “It’s like a new apartment.”

The building has new laundry machines, a live-in super, bike storage and a roof deck.

Location: Gramercy Park is walking distance as is Union Square and its eight subway lines. The 6 train is at 23rd Street. There’s a Citi Bike depot nearby, Jones said, and part of Second Avenue is a bike lane. “A nice bonus is the 24-hour deli on the corner,” she added.

Why put it on your open house calendar? “The building has low maintenance and strong financial reserves,” Jones said. “A big fear when you’re young and buying for the first time is what if they assess. They just paid off the brick work and replaced the roof, and everything else has been done. It’s a good time to come in.”

Note: Jones takes no more than three appointments per 15-minute viewing slot. Interested buyers can contact her at 212-891-7713 or via email at kathy.jones@elliman.com.

453-455 W. 143rd St., Apt. 1, Hamilton Heights, Manhattan
1 Bedroom/1.5 Baths
886 square feet
Common Charges: $338 per month
Real Estate Taxes: $294 per month
Open House: Sunday, March 2, noon to 1 p.m.

Lowdown: This one-bedroom duplex on the lower floors of a townhouse-style, limestone building has a private, gated street entrance. It was last renovated about 10 years ago when converted to condos, said Samuel Chang of Douglas Elliman.

There’s a washer and dryer on the upper lever, and the basement has an additional half-bath and two closets. The condo comprises two adjacent buildings, with 10 units total. Owners must live in the unit the first year, then they can sublet, Chang added.

Priced in the low $400s-per-square-foot, it’s a bargain compared to similar apartments for sale south of 125th Street, which are in the $700- to $800-per-square-foot range, Chang said. “It’s really affordable for first-time buyers.”

Location: It’s on one of the “prettiest” blocks of landmarked Hamilton Heights and within a short walking distance of City College, Aaron Davis Hall and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Three blocks west is Riverbank State Park, with an Olympic-sized pool, year-round skating rink and athletic complex. It was announced in late February that the historic RKO Hamilton Theater may become luxury condos.

At 145th Street are the A, B, C, D and 1 trains. You can get to Midtown in 20 minutes on the express.

Why put it on your open house calendar? “You can get a lot of space and great architecture at an affordable price, and it’s a condo, so it’s flexible, not a strict co-op,” Chang said, adding, “It’s like Park Slope was seven to 10 years ago. People are definitely starting to buy these townhouses and converting them to one- or two-family homes.”

649 Second Ave., Apt. 3H, Murray Hill, Manhattan
1 Bedroom/1 Bath
Approximately 550 square feet
Maintenance: $974 per month
Open House: Sunday, March 2, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Lowdown: It’s hard to imagine a real one-bedroom south of 42nd Street exists for just $375,000, but this one does. The living room “isn’t huge,” said Jimmi Circosta of Citi Habitats, but it’s still good-sized and “there’s enough room for a small dining table.”

Prior owners renovated the bathroom and kitchen, which is now open to the living room and has a breakfast bar. There are subway tiles in the bathroom and French doors, and the space gets natural and reflective light in the afternoons, Circosta said, adding, “though located near the [Queens-Midtown] Tunnel, the apartment faces west and is really quiet.”

There’s also a “gorgeous” backyard with a barbecue grill, a spot for owners to grow vegetables and a lending library in the laundry room. The live-in super keeps the building in “immaculate condition and takes packages for people,” Circosta said.

The co-op allows subletting for up to three years, but no more than 30 percent of the units can be rented at one time, so there’s a waiting list, he added.

Location: You’re in the center of Murray Hill, between 35th and 36th streets, with stores and amenities steps away, including a new Fairway and the AMC Loews theaters. The 6 train is at 33rd Street. The currently abandoned Waterside Pier at the East River between 38th and 41st streets is to be demolished and replaced with an added public park space by the end of 2015.

Why put it on your open house calendar? “If looking for value, I don’t think anything can touch it,” Circosta said. “It’s priced to sell.”

186 E. 111th St., Apt. 1, East Harlem, Manhattan
2 Bedrooms/1 Bath
Approximately 1,000 square feet
Maintenance: $810 per month
Open House: Sunday, March 2, 11 a.m. to noon

Lowdown: This bright floor-through, railroad apartment has the potential to be converted to a three-bedroom, said Marco Lombardini of Bond New York. “It’s a great deal for 1,000 square feet, especially when you look at the condos nearby asking $600 to $700 per square foot.”

The apartment was renovated in 2006 with new floors, kitchen appliances, custom built-ins, and a washer and dryer, he added.

The current layout requires you to go through a home office and second bedroom to get to the main bedroom, which has a marble fireplace, unless you enter from the second door in the hallway. An owner upstairs with the same floor plan moved the kitchen into the middle, added Stan Czajkowski, who shares the listing. “It has a lot of potential for someone who has an eye for space and how to best use it.”

Amenities are basic: basement storage and a small common garden which can be used for entertaining. The building is pet friendly.

Location: The 6 train at 110th Street is around the corner, it’s a seven-minute walk to Central Park, and the post office, library, grocery stores and markets are nearby, said Czajkowski, adding that there’s a “mini restaurant row now occurring on 103rd Street and Lexington, with coffee shops, steakhouses and bakeries a few blocks down.”

Why put it on your open house calendar? “With a friendly co-op board and sublet policy, and the Second Avenue subway coming,” there’s good long-term value both with the apartment and in East Harlem, Lombardini said.