October, 2004 – Sold $575,000
May, 2007 – Sold $650,000
November, 2009 – Sold $865,000
December, 2014 – Listed $1,850,000
This week’s Digs Watch takes us to the Spencer Arms, a building located in the prime Lincoln Square area of the Upper West Side. Built in 1903, this former hotel was converted to co-ops in 1986, and has retained much of its gorgeous exterior pre-war features. Recently put up for sale in this building is the oft-traded PH11, a 1br/2ba duplex with high maintenance, a gorgeous terrace and a fancy glass staircase plopped in the middle of the kitchen. PH11 sold three times from 2004 to 2009, with the last two sales generating for the seller a 12% gain and a 25% gain, respectively, and is back on the market now after a 5-year hiatus. This time, however, the seller is looking to gross a nearly $1MM gain (114%) over the 2009 sale price. That is quite ambitious for a 1br unit put on the market in mid-December. The unit is definitely a nice 1br with a generously-sized living room/dining room and amazing terrace with terrific views. However, residents must be careful not to walk into the clear glass staircase creating many head-clearance hazards in the kitchen. While this might appeal to extremely short buyers or maybe Chinese buyers looking for their 2-year-old, chances are that an average-height person will eventually buy it and likely hit their head during at least half a dozen late-night inebriated refrigerator runs. Perhaps this is why the apartment trades so often – residents just get sick of hitting their heads on the stairs while doing the dishes. All kidding aside, the owners did a respectable renovation of the apartment, adding a bathroom, re-doing (and changing the layout of) the kitchen (although it appears that they did not install a full-sized refrigerator), and seem to have overhauled the entire upper level. They certainly put some cash into it. But pricing it at the extreme high end for 1br co-ops in the neighborhood is a bit of a gamble, especially given the unit’s shortcomings (pun intended) and what is going on down the street at this 1br penthouse, which is entering its 4th month on the market and does not have any head injury hazards.