Real estate datapoint of the day, 115 Allen edition

By Felix Salmon
May 22, 2011
listed at $2.85 million.

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Back in June 2004, the penthouse apartment at 115 Allen St, on a dingy corner of New York’s Lower East Side, was briefly listed at $2.85 million. But that didn’t last long: by September, that number had risen to $4.5 million, a number designed to scare off any potential buyers and ensure that Seth Tapper, the developer, could justify keeping it for himself.

Which he did: the NYT profiled Tapper and his apartment in January 2006, in inimitable NYT style:

When Ms. Kanaaneh and Mr. Tapper installed countertops, a Russian handyman looked out of a north-facing window and saw the statue of Lenin that sits atop the Red Square building on East Houston Street. The handyman wept…

For now, [Tapper] said, he is focused on enjoying his home with his family and never failing to appreciate that view – all those views, really.

His biggest goal, he said, is never to get tired of looking out the window.

Well, it seems that Tapper did tire of looking out the window after all: his apartment is back on the market, this time for $5.5 million. Broker Irene Lo might have moved from William B May to Corcoran, but her brokerbabble remains untouched: back in 2004 we were told that the apartment “resonates the rich texture of the neighborhood in a private sancutary setting”, while today a Miele dishwasher “spills into the sleek, stylish living area that awes you any time of day or night”.

In any case, as Curbed notes, if the apartment sells for anything near its asking price, I’ll have to eat a certain amount of crow: I said in 2004 that “if the penthouse does go for $4.5 million, I’ll just hop on one of those flying pigs and leave a bottle of fine Scotch on the new owners’ terrace.”

According to Case-Shiller, a New York apartment worth $4.5 million in September 2004 should be worth about $4.2 million today: prices are meant to have gone down since then, not up. And I thought the place was overpriced at $2.85 million.

But two things are going on here: massive price inflation at the very top of the market, fueled by record Wall Street profits; and the continuing gentrification of the Lower East Side. And so this apartment is now valued at 1X the new benchmark — Nouriel Roubini’s own penthouse apartment a few blocks north.

All of which means that I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop, and Manhattan prices to return to reality — but I know I might be waiting a long time. And in the meantime, if you have any leads on flying pigs, I’d be much obliged.


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