Do you find it difficult to imagine the ugly duckling becoming a swan before lights come on at last call? In real estate, lots of people are just like you. Watching, watching, watching as HGTV’s parade of annoying renovators turn a curse into a blessing. But walk into the aforementioned cursed property and you’re reaching for a smelling salt boilermaker instead of seeing the possible blessing.
In 2004, the Hotel Zaza was built along with 37 condos branded as the Metropolitan Club (map). Today it sits in the thick of Uptown with the Rattlesnake Bar within a fang’s throw (the center pin in my Uptown map). Being a hotel, residents get all the whistles like room service, ZaSpa access and the like. There’s also Dragonfly when you need some Friday lamb lollipops washed down with a Whiskey Business or two … OK three.
There are two units on the market that offer a rare simultaneous peek at the curse and the blessing at the same time. Units 404 and 504 are identical in size (2,145 square feet) and configuration (two bedrooms with two full and one half bath) except for a minor view uplift on the fifth floor unit.
Where they diverge is that 404 is a fairly well-demolished, aborted renovation project.
Unit 505 is as built with all its walls, cabinets, countertops, sinks and appliances. Unit 404 is listed for sale at $650,000 with broker Arturo Singer. Unit 504 is listed for rent with Brandon Green of Carolyn Shamis for $5,000 per month (so it’s good the rental is move-in ready).
Walking into unit 504, you enter a large living dining combo measuring 21’ x 26 feet with an almost wall-to-wall window bank. It’s got classic features with thick crown moulding (“molding” is what’s been in the fridge too long) and a statement wood arch leading to the kitchen. Hardwoods and recessed lighting make for a good space.
Meanwhile, just below in unit 404, we see something is amiss. The heavy crown is missing and the carved wood archway to the kitchen has literally been ripped from the wall. The floors are obviously in need of a big clean and someone needs to pick up their belt before someone steps on the buckle. It’s particularly Halloween-like to see the electric wiring hanging from its ripped perch in the ceiling.
Let’s head back upstairs to the kitchen in 504’s home. Forget Dragonfly, you’ve got everything you need to whip up whatever you need. While not completely open concept, the archway gives a pretty big connection to the living room. It’s even got my fav fridge configuration, walk-in pantry and eat-in area.
Back downstairs in unit 404 and you better put Dragonfly on speed-dial until the kitchen is refitted. The (doorless) pantry is still there but that’s about it. The biggest worry should be why in cheapness’s name did the original developer not install the wood floors before the cabinetry. Now a renovator is stuck trying to match the wood … no mean feat with 13 year old flooring. More than likely the whole unit will need new flooring. But while it’s a pain, it’s an opportunity to select what you want (and probably chisel a little off the selling price).
As you can see, the drywall is a mess throughout, but don’t let that worry you, there’s nothing structural here. Re-drywalling isn’t terribly expensive. You’ve probably not seen a cross-braced stud wall. Typically they’re seen in areas with earthquakes to reduce cracking with movement. While we’re not as quake-y as California, they’re nice to have as foundations settle to minimize cracks.
Meanwhile, up in 504 you’re ready for a bath. The master has what you want … dual sinks, separate shower and tub, and a water closet. The window brings in natural light. Some folks don’t like the mirror wall, but I don’t mind them. I have both individual mirrors and wall-to-wall and I’m OK either way.
In 404, you’ll pretty much always feel like you need a bath until the renovation is done. It’s nice to see it’s still there (given the state of things elsewhere). As you can see on the mirror, there’s been damage unseen in this picture though. The water closet door appears off its hinges and if they’re not showing the vanity, it’s probably for a reason.
If you’re interested in renting 504, look at 404 and count your blessings.
If you’re interested in buying 404, look at unit 504 to see what could be. Unit 404 represents opportunity. Have your Realtor run you comps for this building and look at all the pictures to judge unit condition (likely pretty equal in this newer building). Then you can see what selling prices are (not list prices) for this building. Figure out how much the renovation will cost, add a good cushion for unforeseen costs, the annoyance, and a small profit. That will give you an idea what to pay for unit 404.
If you get a good deal, perform a well-conceived, contemporary, and quality renovation. It’s a cinch that since being built in 2004 a renovated 404 will have the newest interior in the building. That’ll go a long way when you sell. By then, buyers will be even more tired of the original Mediterranean beige and limestone palette … and this place will be as hot as Uptown.
Have a look at these units. Perhaps it’s time to stop being an armchair HGTV quarterback.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. If you’re interested in hosting a Candysdirt.com Staff Meeting event, I’m your guy. In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.