Back Half Sells at 17th St.

By Dave Fratello | March 20th, 2014

When the cute front house on a half lot at 124 17th (2br/1ba, 880 sq. ft.) sold last December for $1.540M, it left an open question: What about the back unit? Both had been on the market at about the same time.

The back unit is 125 16th Place (2br/1ba, 850 sq. ft.) a slightly smaller home and not quite as cute as the Spanish 2br in front. But it has something 124 17th didn't have: A garage.


This home, we're told, is subject to a height restriction for at least 10 more years – a voluntary arrangement worked out by a prior owner at some point, no doubt with a neighbor looking to protect views.

And this 1200 sq. ft. lot is further precluded from being merged with the front lot (124 17th actually has 1500 sq. ft. of dirt) thanks to a separate deed restriction.

So, suddenly, what looks potentially promising on paper – 1/2 of a prime property just waiting to be built up! – isn't. It's "what you see is what you get."

So what was that going to be worth?

They launched at $1.700M last October and ran 3+ months trolling for a buyer.

At long last, they've closed the sale, and for more than you might have expected: $1.499M.

That's for a 2br beach cottage that, in a best case, can't be improved much for 10 years. And if that no-merging-lots restriction remains in place, this property can never be brought to its highest and best use.

It's no surprise, really, that this one came in below 124 17th, which we had called "a fresh and cozy little 1936 original with updates, including a very nice kitchen," with ocean views and even a private back patio.

Really these two properties worked out to be about even, with 16th Place coming close, despite the smaller square footage, because of the greater (eventual) potential for the plot. 124 17th can never be built bigger because of its "landlocked" status with no parking.

The back story to these 2 sales was that last year, both homes were under contract, simultaneously, to a builder, in a sale arranged off-market. The $3.2M combined asking prices for these, after they later went public, is suggestive of what the builder was offering. But the builder lost interest (obviously) when the development restrictions came to light. Still, both owners became sellers right after, opening the chapter that's now just been closed.

So, $1.5M for two small homes by the water, each challenged in their own ways.

If what you're really looking for is a little beach cottage, and you'd like an ocean peek, the same square footage as both of these, ultra high style and a real garage, you put up $500K more than these and take 137 15th (2br/2ba, 890 sq. ft.), which is newly at $1.999M after a big price cut today.

There on 15th, it's easy to see the appeal.

In fact, Dwell magazine already wrote a big love note to the house.

It looks like they're aiming to make this one happen this year, so we won't rule out a new record of sorts for a little cottage – just in time for Summer.

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