Morning Bulletin: Met Opera Sells Pianos, Real Estate Oddities, James Baldwin’s Rowhouse Makes History Again

Beacon Paint & Hardware on Amsterdam and 78th gave out breakfast as school returned. Photo by Lisa Alpert.

September 16, 2019 Weather: Cloudy, with a high of 77 degrees.

Concerts, films and many other local events are on our calendar.

James Baldwin’s former home
on 71st Street was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. “The remodeled four-story rowhouse stands at 137 West 71st Street, just around the corner from the flagship Gray’s Papaya location. The house served as Baldwin’s New York City residence from 1965, when he purchased it, until his death in 1987.” We last wrote about it here.

The Metropolitan Opera hosted a sale of 80 Yamaha pianos this weekend. “It’s quite a sight: more than 80 pianos on display at the ‪Metropolitan Opera House…Each year, the world’s largest piano maker, Yamaha, loans about 50 pianos to the Met for rehearsals, recitals, auditions, and performances. Every few years, Yamaha sells them, usually at locations around New York City. But for the first time since World War II, the pianos are being sold at the Met.”

An Upper West Sider asked the Times how to protect himself from gawking neighbors with a direct view into his bedroom. “Mr. Aventajado suggests using plants like ferns, ivy and succulents (particularly a cascading one called string of pearls). Leave enough space between the shelves and the window pane so you can still open and close the windows, and also have enough room to install a roller shade behind the plants to darken the room at night.”

Borough President Gale Brewer is reportedly considering running for her old City Council seat representing the UWS, but she hasn’t made up her mind.

Central Park West gets some love from the New York Times real estate section. Here are recent prices: “The average price for the 19 one-bedroom co-ops sold during the first seven months of 2019 was $934,000, while the average price for the seven one-bedroom condos sold in that period was $1.3 million, according to Claire Groome, a broker at Warburg Realty. In all, 71 co-ops and 23 condos were sold, with average prices of $2.92 million and $3.41 million, respectively.”

Meanwhile, rents for studios and one-bedrooms are jumping to 11-year-highs while luxury apartments can’t find buyers.

NEWS | 13 comments | permalink
    1. Lisa says:

      The people (and dog) at Beacon Hardware are so nice!

    2. chuck D says:

      Can anyone explain why condos are so much more expensive than co-ops? I can’t imagine that there are that many people who are put off by the board approval process/financial investigation that the market for similar homes is at a 40% markup.

      What gives? Thanks.

      –A renter

      • Leon says:

        The co-op process is not fun. But more importantly, co-ops usually have very strict rules about subletting. Condos are much more flexible. Personally, I don’t think this is worth a huge premium, but it is definitely worth something.

      • EricaC says:

        I don’t know that it is worth as big a discount, but in addition to the easier entry, you can sublet your apartment without jeopardizing the tax status of the building, so most buildings are a bit less restrictive (which means you suffer less risk of having to sell in a downturn), and you also don’t have the same risk of having to cover your neighbor’s common charges if they don’t pay – there is a catastrophic risk if enough people don’t pay, but if just one or two don’t pay, their shortfall can be covered by foreclosing on their apartments and selling them, rather than forcing everyone else to pony up.

        (Presumably someone will correct me if my understanding is wrong …)

        • Sue says:

          The costs need to be covered if people fail to pay whether one is in a co-op or a condo, the smaller the building, the more it’s going to hurt.

          The big difference is that in a condo, you can put a lien on the resident that’s not paying, but you CAN’T remove them form the building. You have to wait until the apartment is sold to recoup the maintenance they failed to pay. However, in a co-op, a resident can be evicted for failure to pay and the apartment sold by the building.

          This happened in my co-op building and in a neighbor’s condo townhouse.

      • Chrigid says:

        I think you can use a condo as collateral, but not a coop.

    3. Kathleen says:

      Yes, the people at Beacon Hardware are so nice! When I saw the photo of the store I was afraid it was closing. So few of these great small mom & pop stores left. I love the ones that are. What a lovely gesture!

    4. B.B. says:

      Tale of two cities.

      Luxury market is glutted with new development. Piled on you have new federal and state tax laws, DT and his administration’s hate against China, trade wars, and a host of other issues causing foreign money to reconsider buying in New York City much less USA in general. That being said South Florida real estate market is still rather hot IIRC.

      As for studios and one bedrooms it is a supply and demand issue. Developers of new construction largely have favored “family sized” apartments (those with two, three or more bedrooms) for various reasons. One of which is such units command higher prices. Another is to address the real need of families choosing to live in the city.

      Landlords of existing studio and one bedroom apartments have been busy reconfiguring/joining to create the larger (again family size) units they believe market wants.

      Result is a shortage of what was once a staple of NYC real estate; studio and one bedroom apartments. What is out there is largely already occupied and if RS people don’t move. That drives up rents for the little market rate studio or one bedrooms that exist.

    5. Juan says:

      If you don’t want someone looking in your window, close the blinds. Or move to an apartment where it is not possible for someone to look in. It is an unfortunate reality of apartment dwelling (as well as house dwelling in many places). This is yet another reason why many people pay a premium to face a park.

      Or just sit there and stare back at them and see how long they last.

    6. Coolest Gale Brewer returning to her roots?
      We love her here on the Upper West Side.
      She is a great neighborhood supporter living legend A/K/A…”Everybody’s mother on the UWS”.
      Gale my friend, you’ll have my support.

    7. Oona says:

      Sure do hope Gale Brewer comes back as our council person. I will refrain from saying how useless Do Nothing Rosenthal’s Office has proven to be, except to say people in her District have resorted to going to an outside counsel person for assistance.

    8. Elizabeth Inserra says:

      The piano sale was not open to the public without restriction. I went and was asked if I was buying and if I had a representative. The woman at the “registration table” said, twice, we can’t just let people in because this is The Met. I decided not to do the whole supervisor thing and you know they have art exhibits here and regular people enter, and just left, but it was not a public event such as you might think at an auction house, etc. The Met might want to consider whether they should revise their promos if they ever have another. I was quite disappointed and found myself thinking that Lincoln Center will never really learn what inclusion is.