Finding the perfect apartment in New York City often means crowded open houses, bidding wars, and lots of competition. But for anyone with their heart set on classic NYC loft-style living, purchasing a commercial space can be a great alternative.
Commercial spaces make unique homes with open floorplans and can often yield buyers 20% or more in savings; however, going this route has its own challenges including zoning, permits, and sometimes extensive conversions.
“It’s a pain in the neck, but there is so much value to unlock,” said Robert Dankner, the president of Prime Manhattan Residential, a division of Prime Manhattan Realty, which specializes in commercial real estate. Those up to the challenge can end up in homes filled with incredible details and a lot of character. “They look like geniuses,” Dankner said.
Considering a commercial space? Here are some tips:
Do your research: Familiarizing yourself with things like the Loft Law (which protects artists already living in commercial spaces and regulates the conversion of commercial lofts to residential), necessary permits, and code violations can save you a bundle in potential fines.
Hire an architect: Even if a space is zoned for residential use, it may not meet requirements for light, air, ventilation, or other residential standards. Have an expert determine whether a conversion is even possible before you fall in love with a space.
Remember the building as a whole: In one instance it was a simple recycling issue that kept an owner from receiving her official certificate of occupancy. Whether it is an elevator that is not up to code or a fire-hazard in the basement, be aware of any requirements outside your unit.
This article can be found in its original form at NYTimes.