New York City’s richest homeowners just can’t get enough square footage but they’re willing to go to some pretty great lengths in order to try. The result of the city’s wealthiest real estate buyers’ hard work and extensive renovations conducted with an eye toward wider, more open spaces in their homes is a new trend dubbed “Frankenmansions” by New York Magazine’s S. Jhoanna Robledo. Frankenmansions are, as the name suggests, a single-family residence cobbled together via renovations and sometimes even long passageways or other circuitous routes to create a supersized home within a city known for its microscopic living spaces with astronomic price tags. A Frankenmansion is born when the future homeowner either purchases multiple buildings at once in order to renovate them into a single home or when they buy out the neighbors, usually to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. In both cases, NYC must approve the assembly of the Frankenmansion before demolition and reconstruction can begin.
A number of celebrities who live in New York have put their design skills to the test – or at least hired a personal “Igor” to do it for them – by attempting to create these huge “mansions” in the city in existing properties. Sarah Jessica Parker and Madonna, for example, both paid tens of millions of dollars just to grab the properties they needed to create their behemoth homes. SJP purchased her two townhouses from the nonprofit United Methodist Women (UMW) for $34.5 million. At the time, the properties were not connected although they are immediately adjacent. Once SJP was done with the renovations, her 13,900-square-foot mansion held nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a 2,100-square-foot private garden. Another nonprofit, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is clearly hoping to replicate the UMW’s success. They recently listed their two adjacent townhomes in the Big Apple for $19.75 million. This set of townhomes already has a doorway joining them together.
If the townhome route seems too simple to you, then you might prefer billionaire John Stryker’s approach to the Frankenmansion. His new residence, which will certainly be unique when completed, is presently a set of three buildings that formerly housed an ice cream factory and showroom. If Stryker’s plans are approved by the city, the front will stretch 41 feet from one end to the other. He has already employed an entire team of architects to plan the project, which promises to preserve at least some of the original aspects of the historical buildings included in Stryker’s purchase. Even though they were “arbitrarily excluded” from the local historic district when it was originally established.
As more and more wealthy buyers begin to snap up multiple properties with an eye to creating Frankenmansions, more buyers begin listing their properties with these types of purchases in mind. However, there is likely a limit to how many residences of this type New York City will approve in any given area (this may be part of the reason Stryker’s proposal is still under consideration), so investors looking to fund a mega-purchase of this type, specifically in order to sell again to a future Frankenmansion owner, should be aware of other construction and approved plans in any area.
You can read more of Carole’s coverage of this and other topics at www.selfdirectedinvestor.org.
About the Author
Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as vice president of research and analysis at the Self-Directed Investor Society, helping investors “declare independence from Wall Street.” Contact her at email@example.com or visit sdiradio.com.