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Friday, May 13, 2016

Fixer Upper Friday: Linden Court 2BR

A Zillow alert caught my eye this morning, because it's exactly the kind of home that I look for when I'm on the hunt for my next fixer upper. It's listed for $335,000, when most two-bedrooms of similar size in this neighborhood list for $450,000-$550,000, depending on the quality of the renovations. Given the price differential, this means the buyer of the fixer upper will have roughly $215,000 to work with to bring it up to market. That's more than ample to do what's needed: skim coat and paint the walls, refinish the floors, update the wiring, and gut renovate both the kitchen and bath. Built in 1919, the home retains some beautiful detail. Let's take a look.

The home happens to be in one of my favorite Jackson Heights co-op buildings, the lovely Linden Court, notable for its neo-romanesque architecture and gorgeous oversize windows — some with original wavy leaded glass. Designed in 1919 by architect Andrew J. Thomas (who also designed The Towers and The Chateau), Linden Court is credited with being the first co-op built in this neighborhood. Inspired by a method of urban planning called the Garden City movement, 10 individual buildings of four stories each take up an entire city block and make up a U-shape around a common private garden.

This home has already been somewhat demo'd, and walls and floors look to be in fair shape. The floors are original hardwoods that I know from experience clean up beautifully with sanding and refinishing. They don't make 'em like this anymore.

At the time that Linden Court was built in 1920, light and airflow were considered essential to good health, and architecture addressed such things, so Linden Court is known for its "sun rooms". The living room boasts two walls of windows.

The kitchen is a small galley, typical of kitchens of the period in this neighborhood, but it shares a wall with the full formal dining room, so it's possible it could be opened up, for those who favor an open floor plan. And wouldn't that be stunning?


Both bedrooms are sizable — this is no "Junior 4" — and there are ample closets throughout.

Here's a look at a finished two-bedroom, also in Linden Court, where the owner did open up the kitchen wall. They also closed off entrance to the living room from the foyer. Perhaps they will market it as convertible to a three-bedroom?

What was a galley kitchen is now open to the dining room with an island that features bar-stool seating.

Flow from dining room to living room was improved with the addition of pocket french doors. 

Here's a closer look at that sunny living room.

This home is on the market right now for $585,000, stretching the upper range for two-bedrooms in this neighborhood. Ambitious, I think, given the quality of the renovation vis a vis comparables in the area. At the high end of the price range, I'd be expecting custom cabinets, professional grade appliances, stone countertops and luxury fixtures in the kitchen. I wouldn't be expecting to see an exhaust fan venting through the top of a window. 

I'd of course want to purchase the less expensive fixer upper. The $250,000 price differential would cover the kind of high-end renovation I'd expect to see, all to my own personal taste. In fact, I'm in a fit of fixer-upper envy right this moment!

But here are some things to consider: 

All Linden Court buildings are walk-ups, there's no elevator — and these homes are on the fourth floor (renovated) and third floor (fixer upper). Generally there are working dumbwaiters to transport groceries up and down, however, walk ups are usually priced lower than comparables in elevator buildings. In addition, I see there's a monthly maintenance of $742 for the renovated home, but the fixer upper's maintenance is unlisted, so I'd want to inquire about that. Such details will not necessarily be the same for both buildings. Each building at Linden Court operates as a separate co-op, governed by its own co-op board, so things like maintenance, underlying mortgage, condition of building mechanicals and even the house rules can vary building to building. 

If you do get to take a look, please report back in comments. Happy hunting!