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Apartments With Outdoor Space Can Be Dear
By SARAH MASLIN NIR
Published: May 27, 2010
TO anyone who has witnessed the Hamptons-bound conga line of cars on the Long Island Expressway, or has headed to Sheep Meadow in Central Park for a weekend picnic only to find the sky almost obscured by flocks of Frisbees, it is clear that New Yorkers are sun-seekers.
From packed rooftop bars to plant-crammed fire escapes, outdoor space becomes a hot commodity when the city warms up. For those who want their own place in the sun, apartments with private patios, terraces, balconies and roof decks are to be found all over the city. But the supply is, like summer itself, on the short side, and brokers say that buyers should expect to pay a premium.
For some hunters, outdoor space is paramount. “I’m almost as picky about the outdoor space as the indoor space,” said Varuni Tiruchelvam, 32, a high school teacher who is looking for a brownstone or an apartment in Brooklyn for around $600,000. Ms. Tiruchelvam, who worked on a farm near Boston before moving to New York to teach, wants to grow her own vegetables. Thus she not only needs room for heirloom tomatoes, but also just the right light.
An adorable, affordable, gardenless place next door to an organic market won’t do. “I grow it to watch it grow and it gives me peace,” Ms. Tiruchelvam explained. As a teacher, “it helps to see something grow and remind yourself that everyone can grow.”
Far from Ms. Tiruchelvam’s dream tomato patch, at 477 West 22nd Street in Chelsea, midway between 9th and 10th Avenues, is a top-floor one-bedroom with a lush roof garden listed at $800,000. The garden hums with bees; lilacs, black-eyed Susans and purple irises sprout in planters fed by an automatic irrigation system.
The space, however, is not entirely private. A third of the roof belongs to the second and third floors; the rest is exclusive to the owner of the one-bedroom apartment. There is no divider between the spaces. The four-story co-op is directly across the street from Clement Clarke Moore Park, and from the bedroom windows, the view is almost entirely of treetops.
Beau Nova, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group, has the listing. “People want their own kind of oasis, a little serenity,” Mr. Nova said. “Those buyers pay a premium for it. They know it, but everybody has their own priorities.”
Pricing a place with a deck or patio can be complicated.
Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel, the appraisal company, said, “There’s a lot of misunderstanding about how to value outdoor space.”
“We look at the price per square foot of the apartment as if it didn’t have a terrace,” he said, “and then the value of the terrace is a percentage of the price per square foot of the interior space. The general range that we see is somewhere in the number of 25 to 50 cents on the dollar.”
That range depends on variables including the location of the apartment in the building, the privacy of the outdoor space, and its size and shape.
Take, for example, a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom apartment priced at $800 a square foot, or $800,000, with 200 square feet of terrace. At 50 cents on the dollar, or $400 a square foot, that terrace with a view would add $80,000 to the asking price.
Mr. Nova said that in pricing the Chelsea apartment, the desirable location and scarcity of outdoor space in the neighborhood justified the higher end of the formula.
If it’s fresh air in Brooklyn that you want, a 572-square-foot one-bedroom condominium on quiet Java Street in Greenpoint has a little bit: 90 square feet of balcony. The place has an asking price of $439,000.
Listed by David Kazemi, a sales agent at Bond New York Properties, the apartment has a bathroom with twin glass sinks and a whirlpool bath.
From the balcony you can glimpse a bit of the East River and the placid street life of the surrounding, mainly Polish, community as it plays out below on tree-lined streets. The six-story building also has a communal roof deck with views of church spires and the distant Empire State Building.
A phrase brokers and sellers often bandy about is that a deck or terrace “doubles the living space.” This, of course, is true more in spirit than in actuality — unless you’re inclined to have patio campouts, and even then, how often would you do that in, say, December?
In the case of a studio on the ground floor of a co-op building at 332 East 54th Street, between First and Second Avenues, there is more outdoor space than there is apartment. The studio, priced at $469,000, has about 325 square feet indoors and a patio of 440 square feet.
Joshua Bright for The New York Times
Joshua Bright for The New York Times
The narrow space is paved in flagstone, and bamboo trees nestle at the far end. The greenery can be illuminated by spotlights; lights are also set in recesses in the wall along the length of the patio. The deck chairs and the barbecue grill are included in the price.
The postage-stamp apartment, offered through Halstead Property by Jaylon Brigham, an associate broker, and Ivana Tagliamonte, a senior vice president, is several avenues away from the nearest subway, but it benefits from meticulous design — it is luxury on a Lilliputian scale.
Ms. Brigham said the apartment might be best for a single person, or a couple looking for a pied-à-terre. “It’s a crash pad in the city,” she said. “So if they want to be in the city because they attend the theater on the weekend, but they also love the outdoors, they have the best of both worlds.”
The studio has two fireplaces, one decorative. It also has high-end stainless-steel appliances, including a stacked washer-dryer and a pint-size dishwasher.
The exposed brickwork reaches all the way to the high ceilings, which have exposed beams, and it seems as if every effort had been made to foster a feeling of spaciousness: a Murphy bed folds away into a mirrored closet of blond wood, and the wall to the bathroom is made of clear glass bricks.
A three-bedroom duplex condominium in Harlem at 203 West 122nd Street with a variety of outdoor spaces is on the market for $1.5 million. It is listed by Peter Denby, a broker with Halstead.
There are two north-facing balconies, one off of the master bedroom on the lower floor and one off of the media room on the upper. The sliding glass doors in both rooms are like floor-to-ceiling windows, providing wide vistas of the rooftops of Harlem.
Up another flight of stairs is the 1,000-square-foot roof terrace, which, like the one-car garage at the building’s base, is exclusive to the owner of the apartment. Because the building is six stories high, the views are largely unobstructed.
On the ground floor of 838 Greenwich Street, a drab brick building on the southernmost boundary of the meatpacking district, is an apartment similarly well appointed and enhanced by copious outdoor space. The two-bedroom triplex is listed at $1.45 million, and is an amalgam of two adjacent triplexes.
Enter on the middle floor, where there’s a large kitchen, a wet bar and two bathrooms — one with a whirlpool tub, one just a shower. Two bedrooms are on the floor above. Head downstairs to a living room and dining room, each with large sliding glass doors leading out into the garden.
The combined triplexes also mean combined outdoor space. Though the Siamese configuration of the apartment is slightly odd (it has four working fireplaces), the conjoined gardens are a boon. The brick wall that once lay between the spaces has been partially knocked down; the uneven sections that are left, moss-covered and set against a backdrop of a thick wall of ivy, conjure a secret garden.
“It’s very rare to have outdoor space that’s that large and that peaceful,” said Debra Kameros, an executive vice president of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who listed the apartment.
Given its location between Horatio and Gansevoort Streets, at the tip of the meatpacking district’s cobblestone maze of clubs, tipsy street traffic can be an issue. So can noise.
But the walls are high — so high in fact that they almost conceal the several-stories-tall honey locust tree that rises straight out of the private patio.
Your own tree. What would you pay for that?