In his new âMy 2 Centsâ column, Donald Brennan presents unbiased, hands-on evaluations of properties on the market that heâs visited and examined inside and outâand gives you his unique perspective as an architect, developer and appraiser.
For the adventurous, a chance to buy buildable space.
Less than two weeks ago I stopped by the open house for this single-family row house with one of my buyer clients. Itâs listed for $1,295,000, or $761/square footâpricing I find to be a bit aggressive. The property shows wellâitâs in good shape, clean, well-decorated, and has extensive original detail. At closer look, it does have a few drawbacks, though, but it also presents a good add-on opportunity. Â Â
Local ExternalitiesâThis three-story, 1,700 square-foot home is located in a transitional neighborhood–and itâs clearly in Gowanus, not Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill, as claimed in some of the marketing materials. The home is situated between Hoyt and Bond streetsâand that stretch of Bond is industrialâand less than two blocks from the Gowanus Canal Superfund site. (Parents with kids or expecting them, take note!) While the other homes on the block are of similar height, vintage and style, a few have been extendedâin ways not always consistent with the surrounding architecture. Since the block is not in a landmarked area, almost anything goes regarding renovations and additionsâmeaning the look and character of the block could change at any time.
Architecture/Appearanceâ Reportedly built in the late 19th Century, 452 Sackett Street is a Federal-style brick row house, with some brownstone finishing at its base. It consists of three stories, including the garden floor, with a 16.7â width and a 34â depth, and sits on a deep 100â lot. Some of the exterior features of this home include an attractive high stoop and a transom window that allows light into the narrow entry hall inside. Used now as a single-family home, itâs being marketed as âeasily convertibleâ back to a two-familyâalthough with only 1 Â˝ baths and one kitchen in the home now, the conversion would, in fact, be quite involved.
Iâd consider the interior of the house to be rusticâsince it hasnât been updated. But it is rich in detailâwith original wood doors, crown moldings and marble fireplace mantles; as well as high ceilings and exposed brick. All three fireplaces are not operational, however. And the wood plank floors have a deflection (mild sloping) across the width of the buildingâ but this is not unusual in a building of this age. The layout of the home is a bit awkward, since the kitchen (in need of updating) and half-bath are on the garden floor, not the first/parlor floor. (The top floor contains the full bath and two bedrooms; with the third bedroom on the parlor floor.) At the open house, entrance to the cellar was not permitted, so I canât speak to the shape of the mechanical systems and the storage space; and the yard was also snow covered so not revealing.
RehabilitationâA major selling point of this houseânot mentioned at all in the marketing materialsâis the ability to almost double the size of the building. The allowable space on this lot is 3,334 square feetâand the structure there now is only 1,700 square feet. Other buildings on the block have expanded, with one property adding 1 Â˝ stories. And for the buyer, since this area is not landmarked, youâre not limited by landmark guidelinesâso you can be creative as youâd like in your renovation!
So I see two options for renovating this home: Updating without reconfiguring, and the two-family conversion plus added space. Basic updates, in keeping with the current single-family layout, would include upgrading the kitchens and bathrooms, as well as relining the fireplaces to make them functional. This would run about $100,000 – $125,000. To convert this home to a two-family, the building would need to be extended out the back to make the garden floor a suitable rental unit and to improve the flow of space throughout the entire home. Such a project would add another $225 – $250/square foot to the price of the building, bringing the total all-in cost to about $1,000/square foot.
And that would make this property a multi-million-dollar home in a neighborhood that now does not warrant such a price. Might it be a good investment in the long run? Possibly. The area has improved over the years and letâs hopes it continues to do so. In a few years the nearby Atlantic Yards project will be complete, bring an infusion of new people and dollars. And with the Gowanus Canal cleanup expected to be finished by 2025, youâll then be just a few steps away from the cityâs newest waterway. It just might happen.
Donald Brennan Â Â 917-568-6525 Â email@example.com
Please contact me if you’re in the market to buy and would like to learn about myÂ buy-side services, or if youâre thinking of selling your home and would like to learn more about myÂ sell-side services and toÂ receive a complimentary comparable market analysis.
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