In his new ‚ÄúMy 2 Cents‚ÄĚ column, Donald Brennan presents unbiased, hands-on evaluations of properties on the market that he‚Äôs visited and examined inside and out‚ÄĒand gives you his unique perspective as an architect, developer and appraiser. Contact Donald for more details about this home or others in brownstone Brooklyn.
A tasteful and well-configured brownstone for the higher-end buyer.
I looked at this two-family property twice this month‚ÄĒonce at an open house and another with one of my buyer clients. There‚Äôs a lot to like in this 19th century home, and if you‚Äôre at this price level, it‚Äôs well worth considering.
Highlights: ‚ąô Ideal two-family configuration w/ owner‚Äôs triplex¬† ‚ąô Nice finishes and original detail¬† ‚ąô Move-in condition
Price: $2,695,000 ($816/sf)
Local Externalities‚ÄĒ371 Clinton Street is located between DeGraw and Sackett streets in Carroll Gardens, just outside the Cobble Hill historic district. You‚Äôre just a block from Court Street, with shops, restaurants and the Cobble Hill Cinemas, ¬†although it‚Äôs about six blocks to the Carroll Street subway station. Clinton Street is a through street for traffic headed north to the Heights and the Bridge, and it does get busy during rush hours. But the block is filled with lovely, historic 19th century brownstones and row houses, most of which have maintained much of their historic character.¬†371 Clinton Street and the surrounding homes are of similar size, style and vintage, and all appear to be well maintained.
Architecture/Appearance‚ÄĒWhile the year built is not reported, 371 Clinton Street is consistent with the Italianate style brownstone homes built in the 1840s ‚Äď 1870s, with an arched doorways, double-leaf doors, and high stoops.¬† (See the LPC‚Äôs row house guide for details.) This home shows well, with nice finishes, original detail, and furnishings. It has an excellent configuration for a two-family home: an owner‚Äôs triplex on the top three floors (4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths) with a back deck off the parlor level; and a 1-bedroom, 1-bath garden apartment rental. (While the apartment will be delivered vacant, it should be easily rented at $2200 +/- per month.)
This is the best layout for a two-family home, since the owner can use the main staircase, and with the apartment on the basement level you don‚Äôt have to waste valuable space for an extra staircase. I was also impressed by the smooth flow of the space–bathrooms on every level, comfortably wide stairs and landings, good access to the deck, and very functional living room, dining room, and kitchen combo on the parlor level.¬† The yard is small, but neat and well maintained, and the cellar has decent ceiling height, maybe about 6 1/2 feet.
There was an odd and ornate room divider that created an archway in the living room‚ÄĒthe owner believed it may have been used long ago for curtains to close the room off to the fireplace. (In researching historic buildings, I discovered that in the 1880s and beyond homeowners often used ‚Äúoff-the-shelf‚ÄĚ components ordered from catalogs–perhaps like this archway‚ÄĒinstead of investing in customized changes to their homes.)
Rehabilitation–No renovations are needed–this home is in move-in condition. If you don‚Äôt want the rental unit, you can easily combine the two units to make a single family home, just by adding back in the parlor staircase to the garden level. The one thing that would improve this property would be to add modern bathrooms to the central living spaces–this would create a master bedroom suite on the third floor and centralize the location of the bathroom on the fourth floor. With regard to expansion, according to property records, the building‚Äôs FAR (floor area ratio) allows for approximately 1,000 square feet–although it seems unnecessary. But for those interested, building up, not out, would be the best option due to the small yard.
The takeaway: Relative to comparable homes I‚Äôve looked at in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, this home stands out for so many reasons–its condition, configuration, flow, finishes and detail. While the overall price of the property is steep, the cost per square foot ($816) is actually at about par with many properties in need of work–making this home a good buy. And I don‚Äôt mind its Clinton Street location–this is urban living, after all!
In the market? I‚Äôm happy to walk you through this home or others like it and tell you more. Please contact me to set up an appointment–no obligation:
Donald Brennan 917-568-6525¬†email@example.com