April 2006 – sold $1,069,162
October 2014 – listed $2,500,000
This week’s Digs Watch brings us to DUMBO – Brooklyn’s former bustling waterfront industrial hub cum mafia body dumping ground, which in recent years has been transformed into a picturesque neighborhood of converted warehouses and cobblestone streets nestled between the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge. As many of you likely already know, DUMBO has experienced what may be the most significant hyper-gentrification of all Brooklyn neighborhoods in recent years — a process set in motion nearly thirty years ago when David Walentas started buying up decrepit warehouses in the then-unnamed area for about $6psf, with the vision of initiating something similar to the creative colonization of Soho and Noho across the river. In recent years, DUMBO has been the home to the highest average price per square foot in Brooklyn (eclipsing even many more established neighborhoods in Manhattan), with many homes selling in excess of $1,100-$1,200psf (and new development currently listed in excess of $1,800psf).
With that background, let’s take a look at Unit 2J at 70 Washington Street, a 2,200sf duplex loft at the base of one of Walentas’s warehouse conversions in the heart of the neighborhood, with high ceilings and even a large outdoor terrace – a rarity in DUMBO — with views of the Brooklyn Bridge. What it also has, however, is only one room with windows, leaving more than half of the apartment, including the only bedroom and the entire lower level (a 17.5’ x 52’ expanse if you take out the wall), in the dark. This might explain why, in 2006, when 70 Washington was fresh on the market as a new residential conversion, 2J sold for appx. $535psf compared to the $800-$850psf sale price of many other units in the building – a nearly 40% discount. Cut to Fall 2014, when three non-second-floor units traded in September at prices ranging from $1,061-$1,651psf, 2J lists at $1,136psf, right in the middle of where 70 Washington’s non-nocturnal units are trading. Yes, a terrace with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the ability to install your own bowling alley is really cool, but is there really no discount anymore for a lack of windows, light or fresh air circulation? How many vampires or bowling enthusiasts are really out there looking to buy condos in DUMBO right now?