Clinton Hill Mansion Suffers Another Big Price Chop

Price increases in Brooklyn have been something to see, especially in the last few months. But clearly not everything on the market is selling like hotcakes. The bold red-and-white Clinton Hill mansion-slash-apartment house at 278 Clinton Avenue that was priced at $10,000,000, then dropped to $7,500,000, has suffered the indignity of another million-dollar-plus price cut, this time to $5,850,000, Curbed noticed. What could be the issue holding buyers back? Surely it’s not the striking exterior or convenient two-car garage. Curbed speculates the problem is that the building is divided into seven units — and there’s no mention in the listing that it will be delivered vacant. Sounds plausible to us. What do you think will get this property to move?
Clinton Hill Mansion Pricechopped Yet Again, Now Asks $5.85M [Curbed]
Clinton Hill Mansion Drops to $7.5 Million [Brownstoner]
House of the Day: 278 Clinton Avenue[Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 278 Clinton Avenue [Brownstoner]
278 Clinton Avenue Listing [Corcoran] GMAP P*Shark

24 Comment

  • In the eighties, this house contained rent controlled units. The place has changed hands since then, but it may still be an issue.

  • expert_textpert

    “What do you think will get this property to move?”

    Me winning lotto

  • The current owner needs to deliver the building vacant… as simple as that.

    • Vacant and a somewhat lower price. It’s big, but more than $5M is still excessive.

    • If only it were that simple. With an SRO designation, even if it is delivered vacant, without a certificate of non harassment, you will not be able to get any permits. Worse – there are serious legal liabilities that could chase you from prior tenants claiming they were forced out. Remedies would be financial as well as restitution — e.g. courts allowing them to move back in. Total mess. House is practically worthless with this issue unless someone comes along who knows nothing about SRO issues. Residential brokers are not equipped to deal with these issues and usually don’t understand the complexities, which are vast.

      • I have always wondered whether you couldn’t legally turn an SRO into some kind of hotel or B&B. Is the legal designation the same?

        • Again – you can’t even get a permit to do ANYTHING without the cert. Read the DOB records on this place – they can’t even get the permit to fix their boiler. Most people don’t understand the SRO problem but it is a big one. Potential reach back to every tenant that has been there since the designation started! Ouch!!

          • expert_textpert

            “Read the DOB records on this place – they can’t even get the permit to fix their boiler.”

            There are NO filings for boiler repairs. How can the DOB issue a permit if no one filed for one?

          • Read the violations section to answer your question.

            Alas most people don’t understand how the process works on the cert. You need the certificate by law. To get the cert, which is at least a 3 year process, involves going back to former tenants, potentially to the beginning of the designation, to legally prove there was no harassment. Any tenant with a good lawyer will say “there was and I want my room back”.

            Yes – the place is beautiful. But alas, it is going to be a real headache with real risk of former tenants making claims.

          • expert_textpert

            “Read the violations section to answer your question.”

            HUH?!?! Those are violations.
            I don’t understand your point. You said “they can’t even get the permit to fix their boiler.”

            If no one files for a permit, how are they supposed to get one???
            Read the filings section, there are NO filings for the DOB to disapprove because it’s an SRO [groan]

          • Apologies – The point is they can’t get any permits. Therefore they can’t fix the boiler. Therefore they get violations and fines. It’s a loop. It is confusing.

            I gotta get back to my real work. The house is great — it is a real shame about the lack of a cert. I bet it gets pulled off the market and / or sold for a vastly reduced price — $1m flat or maybe higher with clawbacks but those are only as credit worthy as the seller.

      • This is not the first large house in Clinton Hill (or anywhere else, for that matter) to go from SRO to another designation. I certainly understand why that would deter a novice, but it is possible to do. If someone is armed with the right legal advice, and is willing to wait out the process, and perhaps pay some extra bucks in order to do so, they will have one hell of a house. I’m really not seeing the “practically worthless” here. Yeah, it’s going to cost, and the price needs to be even lower, but still…

        • expert_textpert

          agreed!
          Many houses have gone from SRO to multi or single family homes.
          How was that done orangestone?

          • Most have a certificate of non harassment before the sale. If they don’t they end up like 6 South Oxford Street — shells. There is a much smaller market for sales without the cert because the liabilities are real. It is a 3 year process, at least, where the city reaches out to former tenants to determine whether or not there has been harassment. Long and complex legal process to get the cert. Normally sellers get the cert because it allows a price that, while discounted, enables a sale. Without the cert, most deals are done at very low prices to buyers who are lawyers specializing in this stuff. There is a small class of other sales to unwitting buyers who aren’t sophisticated. They usually get a nasty surprise.

            The sellers are probably hoping for a newbie to buy the place and certainly haven’t been forthcoming about the SRO issue.

          • A newbie with $5.8 million dollars.

      • expert_textpert

        “With an SRO designation, even if it is delivered vacant, without a certificate of non harassment, you will not be able to get any permits.”

        I’m not sure this is entirely correct. There are ways to around things. It’s best that someone that owns or is buying a house that is an SRO have lots of time, money, a lawyer and an architect that is very well versed in SRO conversions.

  • People – it has an SRO designation. This is a poison pill. Without a Cert of Non Harassment, the place is nearly worthless.

    http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/PropertyProfileOverviewServlet?requestid=2&bin=3055027

  • Very sad. Deluded owners = how a beautiful house becomes something that sits empty and decays into a mere shell. Some of those in our neighborhood too.

  • This house is beautifully maintained. Hardly decaying into a vacant shell.

  • Havemeyer

    So the former tenants can all still have rooms at market rate rents if they want them? Or the rent they paid based at the time that they left? I would happily have a few old guard tenants if it meant I also got to have this house.

    Now I’ve got to go buy lottery tickets, like expert and montrose.

    • Just hope that any of those old guard tenants aren’t alcoholics, drug addicts, or decide to marry some 20 year old who will inherit their tenancy and be with you for the next 60 years paying peanuts.

      You chances are higher of winning the lotto.

  • Place is huge and gorgeous, hardly what comes to mind when I think of a SRO. At the right price it is certainly worth the headache of taking on the former tenants considering the home it could be. Another argument in favor of a lower price is that this will have to be an all cash deal, there isn’t a bank around that would touch this place with it’s current C of O. I’d consider three or four years in litigation and a $1,000,000 in settlements easily worth this house at $3,000,000.