Eight Out, One In at 23 Pierrepont

BHB Photo by C. Scales

As reported by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the townhouse at 23 Pierrepont Street, between Willow Street and Columbia Heights, has been sold for $1.65 million to a buyer, described as “a private investor”, who plans to convert it from its present configuration of eight apartments to a single family residence. According to the broker, John Horowitz of Marcus & Millichap, it’s an all-cash deal to close within thirty days.

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  • ashton

    I hope the buyer realizes that under city regs the rental tenants possess most of the ownership rights to the building and all he has is the responsibility of paying the taxes and keeping them comfy and happy.

  • ABC

    seems cheap by a million dollars. what am I missing?

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com Claude Scales

    Ashton: I’m not an expert on landlord-tenant law, but as I understand it, even in New York City, a building owner may refuse to renew a lease except under certain circumstances, which include the apartment being under rent control, the tenants’ being senior citizens, etc. See http://www.housingnyc.com/html/resources/attygenguide.html

    ABC: I was also surprised by the amount, which the broker says was the result of a competitive bidding process that led to a “top-of-the-market price”. The building does appear to be something of a fixer-upper, especially for someone who wants to convert it from an eight apartment building to a single family residence.

  • ABC

    yeah, well I don’t think I’d hire that broker if he thinks that 1.65 is top of the market pricing for a townhouse — in any condition — on that block.

  • my2cents

    That price seems insanely cheap for an 8 unit building. Is that a typo?
    There are apartments that sell for 1.6M here!

  • my2cents

    Also, frankly that person is a fool to convert it. A rental building like that in the heights would seem to be a cash cow.

  • robert

    it’s crazy the amount of money that is being spent on these old, small,colorless buildings that are in such a conjestive area, where one who owns a car has to spend 4 hours a day looking for a parking spot that will still earn you a ticket, and live amongst the most boorish people in the land. and the shopping in this area is such a rip off. wake up people! you’re getting ripped!

  • AEB

    Not a cash cow, my2, if the apartments are rent stabilized (or rent-controlled).

  • Lori

    To: my2cents: The days of rental buildings being a cash cow are over. Most people who buy in the heights now want a one family house. I am familiar with the house since I knew a tenant who lived there for many years. The building is is not the standard 25 foot wide – it’s narrow. I had a feeling that this was up for sale since I have seen them cleaning out a lot from there. I wish the new owner good luck with removing the tenants; it’s more difficult than he thinks, but sometimes you do have the right to want a one family house for your own use.

  • nabeguy

    I think Claude has it right..my wife and I lost a wonderful apartment in a non-rent control/stabilized building on Grace Court in a similar non-renewal situation. Fortunately, we had enough remaining time on our lease that we were able to find alternate digs. I don’t know the particulars of this building, but $1.6 sounds low enough to allow the new owners to buy out the leases if they want immediate occupancy…if the tenants are willing.

  • nabeguy

    @Robert, thanks for your input. Until your post, I didn’t realize what a drab, colorless (?) existence I was leading in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in NYC. Yeah, parking sucks, but isn’t it nice to know that the A,C,2,3,4,5,N,R all run through our little burg, providing us myriad ways to escape it? Not that I want to.

  • my2cents

    @Robert, where do you live? And why ae you reading this blog if you hate this area so much?

    Lori, thanks for the info. You have a good point there!

  • Obama?


    I highly doubt that anyone who can afford to buy an 8-family house with I assume a backyard & roof-deck for his family to frolic through will be overly affected by expensive parking & shopping.

  • Anonymous

    Not an expert on landlord-tenant law either, but my understanding is that you CAN kick tenants out if you want to convert to your own personal home. The theory is that while tenants have rights, your right to enjoy your own property is greater (I know, we can quibble with it, but that’s my understanding). The famous example was a 40-unit building in the LES that a buyer claimed he was going to use as his own home for him and his family. Of course, it was obvious BS and just an excuse to kick out all the rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants. After a nasty fight, I think eventually the buyer gave up, or was prevented from kicking out tenants in court.

    So, being able to do something and doing it are completely different. My immediate reaction whenever I hear these stories is that a buyer thinks he can kick out tenants and turn the building into market-price. The idea is… You buy the building, live it in for five years or so, then convert back to market-rate apartments. Just my two cents.

  • GHB

    Robert, I won’t even reiterate some of the responses to your earlier stupid comments. I did want to ask you a question.

    “…colorless buildings that are in such a conjestive area”

    Is “conjestive” a word? Idiot!

  • ashton

    It really is extremely difficult if not impossible to move rental tenants out of a building like this (with more than three units) unless they are willing to strike a deal. There is no way a Brooklyn judge will evict them. Now if they are willing to accept buy-outs that’s a different story but that can be a drawn-out negotiation with each tenant. That is why the price is low because it is filled with tenants who will need to be pried out with a great deal of money and difficulty. It is naive to believe otherwise. Believe me, the new owner will need to buy them out one by one. Easily another two to three million dollars when all is said and done.

  • jorale-man

    From the looks of the building it was once a single-family home before being chopped up. It makes a certain amount of sense that a very wealthy buyer would return it to that state. I’m speculating, but the rental units in there are probably small and the building probably needs a lot of work, so the owner will have his hands full regardless.

    Of course, he’d be living in our drab “conjestive” neighborhood too.

  • AEB

    One of the few ways that a landlord can get rid of tenants in a rent- stabilized apartment is to prove tat he or she wants that apartment for his or her own use.

    I speak from personal experience about this. Years ago my landlord claimed he wanted my then-apartment for his family. A battle, complete with lawyers, ensured. The landlord produced plans for the renovation of my apartment.

    A judge ruled in favor of the landlord, but, I managed to delay things, hoping to push an ultimate showdown beyond my 62nd birthday, at which point, by law, the landlord wouldn’t have been able to evict me no matter his arguments.

    At some point a (non-munificent) settlement was struck. I moved elsewhere. Two days after doing so, I read in the New York Observer that my former building had just been sold to the actress, Julianne Moore.

    A New York story, or what?

  • ashton

    If this house were delivered vacant, with no tenants, it would have fetched closer to five million dollars.
    If getting rid of the tenants was easy, or even possible, don’t you thnk the seller would have done so?
    In Brooklyn, you can tell a judge what you like but they are never, ever going to rule in favor of the landlord. If people could evict rent regulated tenants by saying they need the space for their own family and showing blueprints, don’t you think everyone would do that?

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    Dan Squadron is trying to pass a bill that would restrict landlords to one dwelling as opposed to mass evictions for personal use.

    I don’t think this bill has got to a vote because of Republican objections.

    Fact is, mass evictions are legal under the law. Of course, enforcement depending on the judge is another matter. I remember reading about a building in Manhattan on third street where the court ruled in favor of the landlord. Not sure how it was resolved.


  • Karl Junkersfeld
  • Reggie

    AEB and Karl speak from fact and Ashton seems to speak from emotion. I have an above-average understanding of “L&T” law, including personal experience with this very issue.

  • DrewB

    Ashton I think you are confusing eviction with non-renewal. Two very different things. Eviction, kicking someone out while still under terms of the lease, is very difficult in NYC. Non-renewal of lease is a different matter all together. Unless the apartment is rent controlled, the owner has the option to refuse a renewal of the lease and live there himself.

    I would also point out that there is a MAJOR distinction between rent controlled and rent stabilized. Very few apartments in this hood qualify as “Rent controlled”, which is the more difficult to remove tenants from. Some do qualify as “rent stabilized”.

    You might find this helpful:

    “To qualify for RENT CONTROL, a tenant must have been living continuously in an apartment since July 1, 1971. When vacant, the unit becomes rent stabilized, except in buildings with less than six units, where it is usually removed from the program.”

    “Since the passage of the Rent Regulation Reform Act of 1997, RENT STABALIZATION has been restricted to apartments where the legal, or stabilized, rent was under $2,000 per month. The unit would become deregulated once the rent goes above $2,000 and is either vacated or if the household adjusted gross income is over $175,000 for 2 years”

  • ashton

    OK geniuses, why did this beautiful building in a prime location sell so cheap?
    My guess is that there are one or two seniors who have rent-controlled apartments who are there permanently and two or three near seniors who are rent stabilized who will never leave. These folks do not need leases. They do not even need to pay rent half the time.
    I must live in a very different city than the realtors on this page who tell their clients that it will be “no problem” to get rid of renters by simply not renewing their leases. As if this were Florida. How could there be any rent control or rent stabilized apartments left if all a landlord had to do is refuse to renew a lease? Honestly you all are in a different city than me. There are folks in my building who have not paid rent in years, who have been in and out of court for years and years who manage to postpone eviction by paying a small amount of what they owe, and who are still living in their apartments, without a lease, happy as clams.

  • curiouser

    “ashton”, would that be 2 Grace Court you are talking about?

  • ashton

    no. does that go on there?
    it happens all over the heigths.
    look what happened at 100 Clark Street.
    the renters had to be hauled out by the department of buildings minutes before they commenced emergency demolition.

  • nabeguy

    ashton, by your own words, you’re guessing. I’m not saying that your argument as to the low selling price of this building doesn’t hold water, just that it’s based on speculation, not facts None of us knows the condition of the building or the financial state of the seller, both of which may be mitigating factors. In any case, given human nature, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the tenants forgo the prospect of a lengthy eviction proceeding that will only incur court expenses which will substantially cut into whatever settlement they may get.

  • nabeguy

    BTW, my understanding of 100 Clark/1 Monroe Place was that it was completely rent-controlled, and therefore subject to a whole different set of rules.While the owners may not have welcomed a demolition-by-neglect order, they certainly didn’t do anything over the years to maintain the property.But, given that the property taxes and cost of basic services (heat, hallway lighting etc.) were far in excess of the rental income, it’s certainly no surprise. Think South Bronx circa 1975.There’s certainly no defense for their non-action, but it does explode the myth of rental properties as cash-cows.

  • ashton

    nabeguy, what I find infuriating are certain posters who state unequivacally that renters are easy to get rid of if one follows certain easy steps.
    When others like myself disagree based on long hard experience we are labeled “emotional” meaning what? stupid women?
    Any developer or realtor that says that emptying a building like this can be done in less than ten years, is just being mendacious. period. Do you think someone would sell a 5 million dollar property for 1.6 million because they are lazy?
    Sure, I will sell it to you for 1.6 million, You then wait until the leases are over kick everyone out and resell it for five million a year and a half later. It really doesn’t work that way.

  • ABC

    I think one reason the price was so low was the sellers used a broker nobody knows about, and it wasn’t listed on any of the usual sites like the Times or Streeteasy.

    Maybe someone got a bargain. It’s possible. You say it doesn’t work that way but there’s a bldg on the market on Prospect Park West that was bought about 6 months ago for 1.6ish and is now being sold for 3 point something, more than double. Sellers make mistakes sometimes.

    Also, records indicate the apartments are rent stabilized which really is not the same thing as your example of 100 Clark.