London Terrace is 710 unit co-operative building in Chelsea on the northeast corner of 10th Ave and 23rd St. Shareholders can enjoy the benefits of a full-time doorman, gym, indoor swimming pool,planted roofdeck, storage, bike storage, laundry and parking. Some of these amenities are subject to availability and separate fee. Pets, subletting and pied-a-terres are allowed. The complex is in the heart of the Chelsea art gallery scene, steps to the Highline park. Relatively convenient to public transportation and easy access to the West Side highway and the Lincoln tunnel. The building was built or established in 1930.

A review of large apartment buildings is advantageous as the large number of units virtually guarantees activity every year so we can observe price changes over time, as a microcosm of the city itself.

(A view of London Terrace facing east)

For data I pulled from Corcoran’s TAXI system, which gave me 272 records dating back to 1991. StreetEasy only went back to about 2004, about 142 records. PropertyShark offered a pitiful 32 records.

For those not familiar with New York co-ops, PPSF is not an official measure and therefore co-ops for sale will either not mention SQFT or will say “approximate SQFT”. TAXI appears to have much more complete SQFT data versus StreetEasy and PropertyShark. Even then, about half the records from TAXI were excluded due to a lack of actual selling prices, or lack of SQFT.

Our data then consisted of 126 observed transactions dating from February 1994 to October 2012. The properties involved were of a variety of lines, layouts, and features so we took a simple PPSF measure and graphed the results.

Unit 17D was the highest priced unit in our data, sold on 10/11/2012 for $4.5 million, which also features the highest monthly expense (maint + taxes) of $5,971. The unit features 2,300 interior SQFT with a 1,000 SQFT wraparound terrace. PPSF came out to $1,957/ft and MPSF about $2.60/ft. The median PPSF paid for a unit in 2012 was about $895. The lowest priced sale in 2012 was $355,000 for unit 9D, listed at 400 SQFT or $888 PPSF.

London Terrace graph 1

At first glance it would appear that there were 5 or 6 “outliers” though that is simply a snap judgment. A quick look at these units, all of which appeared to have sold for over $1500 PPSF, does not yield a singular explanation. Three of them are on the “cozy” side (400 to 550 SQFT). Of the larger units only two appear to have private terraces. And these 6 transactions took place in 5 different years.

While these “outliers” are real transactions and should not be ignored, removing them gives us a slightly more consistent and less volatile trendline.

London Terrace graph 2

The appearance is that there was a sharp pull back following the financial crisis of 2008. PPSF appeared to bottom around 2010 and has seen a sharp recovery. Whereas the median PPSF in 2012 was $895, the low in 2010 was either unit 8B at $391 PPSF or unit 14E at $479 PPSF. Unit 8B sold at the low price of $215,000 and then resold two months later at $440,000 so one can speculate what the back story may have been. Unit 14E appears to have been a private transaction which closed at $387,553. The highest sale of 2010 took place in between those two deals, when unit 17BC was sold for $2.8 million, or $1,750 PPSF which shows how difficult it can be to look at a narrow period or small number of deals and extrapolate from there.

It will be interesting to review other large apartment buildings in the same manner and compare the results.