The Skyloft's the Limit: Trifling Tribeca Project Sells Out, But Where's the Record-Setting Penthouse?

There are bad buildings and there are blockbusters. Tribeca’s Skylofts has managed to be both. Begun roughly 15 years ago,

There are bad buildings and there are blockbusters. Tribeca’s Skylofts has managed to be both. Begun roughly 15 years ago, the converted loft building at 145 Hudson Street just sold out its second run of condos in all of two months–a turnaround time that speaks to special building but also a special condition in the city’s housing market.

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“It feels like where Tom Hanks would live in a Tom Hanks movie where he was a guy who lived in New York,” Stribling broker Alexa Lambert, who is marketing the building, told The Observer. “You know in the movies where they show the apartment and it’s like, ‘Yeah, right, nobody has that.’ It’s like the idea of what living in New York looks like.”

The building has suffered its share of setbacks in getting to this point. The first set of condos, 22 in total on the 11th through 14th floors, came on the market in 2002, when the city was still recovering from 9/11 and the tech crash. Then it was revealed that the massive duplex penthouse was a little too massive, exceeding plans on file with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (the building is located in the Tribeca North Historic District).

No worry. Developer Stanley Scott–who had worked in the building since 1966 and bought it three decades later–had the duplex dismantled and rebuilt by master glass designer James Carpenter, who did the facade at 7 World Trade Center among other project. The staircase alone cost $1 million to manufacture, but when it was all done, the 7,493-square-foot pad set a new downtown record at $30.5 million when it was purchased by ex-con William Duker.

In the meantime, all that reconstruction held up closing on the second round of condos, built out on the seventh through ninth floors–everything below is a commercial condo, stocked with architects and other creative types. Deposits were refunded and it was not until this spring that the units came back on the market. “I think I was pregnant when we started this property, and now my son’s shaving,” Ms. Lambert joked.

Still, thanks to a shortage of inventory in one of the city’s most sought after neighborhood, the two-, three- and four-bedroom lofts were snapped up in short order. Ranging in price from $3.5 million to $7.3 million, they are on the high-end even for this tony corner of the city. Ms. Lambert credits the finishes, including oak floors and gigantic casement windows, all while the building has no fancy amenities to attract buyers.

“I think people are willing to pay up for something they love,” Ms. Lambert said. “The market for mediocre properties isn’t the best.”

Granted there were only nine units to sell in that nine month period, and even Ms. Lambert acknowledges she did not break the coveted $2,000-per-square-foot threshold that now seems to be the barrier for the most luxurious buildings. Prices averaged just under $1,900 a foot. But with hundreds of prospective buyers, the sell out still speaks to a paucity of product. (Ms. Lambert declined to identify any of her buyers, but she said there were “no investors, no speculator and no foreigners,” mostly just bankers and well-to-do professionals as well as some family money.)

“Given the amount of development in Tribeca over the past decade, it’s amazing the lack of inventory right now,” said Bruce Ehrman, a Stribling broker who specializes in the neighborhood but was not involved with the project. “People are just circling and circling and snapping up whatever they can, because there’s not much out there, especially product of this quality.”

Market guru Jonathan Miller was less charitable with the building’s two-month sell out. “That is good,” Mr. Miller said. “I’d look at that and say that looks like a reasonable absorbtion rate. And it’s certainly better than in recent years, so their timing appeared to be good.”

One of the units is rethinking its timing, though. Early last month, that penthouse came back on the market for a $45 million, a bid to make Mr. Duker a tidy profit while skyrocketing him back into the record books, his purchase having since been surpassed at the $31.5 million Super Ink penthouse.

After only 17 days on the market, the crystalline penthouse came off. In a true sign of market madness, had it sold so fast? No, listing agent Leonard Steinberg of Prudential Douglas Elliman informs us, nor has it been rented. “It will be back late this year or next,” he said without explanation.

So things are swell in Tribeca, but not yet out of control.

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

The Skyloft's the Limit: Trifling Tribeca Project Sells Out, But Where's the Record-Setting Penthouse?