In his new â€śMy 2 Centsâ€ť column, Donald Brennan presents unbiased, hands-on evaluations of properties on the market that heâ€™s visited and examined inside and outâ€”and gives you his unique perspective as an architect, developer and appraiser. (Note: Donald Brennan views these properties in representing buyer clientsâ€”he is not representing the seller on these listings.)
Rental quality, but chance to own a single-family row house.
291 Hoyt Street was recently featured in New York Magazine’s â€śWhatâ€™s Gettable in Gowanusâ€ť listings that accompanied â€śThe Superfund Discount,” a piece highlighting the “hot” Gowanus real estate market. I attended the open house with a buyer client, and as the magazine claimed, it was packedâ€”as were other open houses in the area. This is a single-family home of rental quality, in need of improvement, and near the edge of a residential area. But while its price per square foot is high, its small size makes it relatively affordable at $1.5 millionâ€”so it could present an opportunity for buyers wishing to own their own row house.
Local Externalitiesâ€”291 Hoyt Street is situated between Sackett and Union streets, less than two blocks from the Gowanus Canal, a block from Smith Street, and three blocks from the F train. Surrounding homes are of similar vintage and size, although many seem to be lacking in â€śpride of ownershipâ€ť and havenâ€™t been properly maintained. (The house pictured to the left, for example, has a deteriorating faĂ§ade.)
Architecture/Appearanceâ€”While photos on the brokerâ€™s website give this 19th century brick row house a look of elegance, in reality thatâ€™s not the case. Like its neighbors, this home looks a bit run down, both its exterior and interior. The structureâ€”two stories plus garden-level and cellarâ€”is 16 2/3â€™ wide by 40â€™ deep, built on a lot of the same width and a depth of 66â€™. Approved for 2,200 square feet, the two-bedroom, two-bath home is now 2,077 square feet ($720/sf)â€”so the possibilities for expansion are limited. Like other nearby structures, the house has a high nine-step stoop and iron fence, gate and railingsâ€”although theyâ€™re not in great shape and the gate is mismatched. The yard is small and shabby, and the small â€śsun roomâ€ť extension off the garden level doesnâ€™t fit with the building architecture.Â Inside, the house could have used a bit more polish before being shown. (Better presentation, through cleaning and cosmetic touchups, would have gone a long way.) What I did like about this home was its abundant natural lightâ€”throughout the parlor and upper floors, since the buildings across Hoyt Street are only two stories tall. Ceiling heights were comfortable on the garden level and in the cellar, and the cellar looked functional and dry, although cluttered.
Rehabilitationâ€”291 Hoyt Street could use cosmetic improvements throughout its interior and exterior, and its dated and simplistic kitchen needs to be replaced. Depending on your taste, that could cost $25,000 – $75,000. I also recommend taking advantage of the allowable expansion by adding an extension to the building. Only 123 additional square feet are allowed, so your expansion options are limited. However, I see two possibilities: The first, and most functional and interesting, would be to add a master bedroom suite with an outdoor terrace on the top of the building.Â Since the home is not in a landmarked district, additional roof space could be added, opening up the building to even more natural light and views, similar to other expansions in the area. Â I would remove the garden level extension (approx 77 sq ft) in order to have more square footage to work with â€“ 200 sq ft total. Â Adding this roof top extension to the back portion of the floor plate would take advantage of the existing plumbing and waste lines. Base construction costs for such an extension would amount to about $225/square foot, or at least $45,000.
The second option would involve adding two extra stories above the existing sun room. However, the room is tinyâ€”10â€™9â€ť x 7â€™6â€ťâ€”so it would be difficult to create a space above it thatâ€™s functional. Â This also assumes that the existing sun room structure would be sound enough to be built on, which is probably questionable.Â This option would be less economicalâ€”also running about $225/square-foot for base costs–and, truthfully, would not be money well spent.
Donald Brennan 917-568-6525Â firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to learn more about my thoughts on this property and its pricing and value, or if you’re in the market to buy or sell in brownstone Brooklyn, please contact me.