Forget sprawling penthouses; the single-family Manhattan mansion is having a moment

August 15, 2012 11:30AM

The New York City mansion is having its moment, again. The Wall Street Journal reported that the past few years have seen rising numbers of purchasers interested in acquiring apartment buildings, where tenants may or may not still be living, to turn them into single-family homes.

As The Real Deal reported in June, townhouse sales are on the upswing; between early January and mid May this year, more single- to three-family townhouses in Manhattan have closed sales than during the same period of time during the three years prior. The Journal said that 76 permits were filed with the Department of Buildings last year for renovations on Upper West Side buildings — a large share of them were for conversion and single-family use.

“If you’re looking for a single-family house,” Wolf Jakubowski, a Brown Harris Stevens broker, told the Journal, “the chances of finding one is so narrow that you make your own.”

However, there are challenges to undertaking such a project. Although many of these properties were originally built as single-family residences, they were later converted into individual apartments, meaning new walls, plumbing and electrical installations. The cost of purchasing one of these buildings in prime neighborhoods such as the Upper West Side, can cost more than $10 million. Renovations can cost an additional $3 to $5 million. It’s pricey, to be sure. But with $100 million listings coming to the market, it’s a comparative bargain. [WSJ] — Zachary Kussin