Good Deal or Not? Haunted Edition


Last week a reader asked why the prices at the Chastleton, located at 1701 16th Street, NW, were so reasonable. Their Web site says the units are available from “the upper $100’s to the upper $400’s”. Lots of info, history and pictures found here.

While the range is a bit large do you think these sound like reasonable prices for such a prime location? Who knows the haunting history?

They do have a sweet doorway:


22 Comment

  • I think the true story is a little bit less mysterious – the condo fees are very high for a new conversion. And I don’t think that $350K 1BR condos that ALSO have a high condo fee are exactly affordable anyway.

  • The Chastelton is not a condo – it is a coop.

  • I think if you dig into actual sales records, you’ll see that renovated apartments at the Chastleton all sold in the range of $550-625 per square foot or so, which is probably right on the mark for the location. For high 100ks, you’re talking about a 300 square foot studio. The highest end of the market there were 2 bedrooms just shy of 1k square ft (but only one bathroom) for 550-600k.

    Because the bldg is so big, there are a huge variety of floor plans and views. The aprtments facing R Street or 16th Street have great views, while many of the apartments face the courtyard which is pretty dark. There are also some very odd layouts and poor uses of square footage (long, narrow hallways and small bedrooms, for example). The more desireable layouts and views were snapped up super quickly, and the odder ones were discounted accordingly.

  • Well if it’s a coop, then another reason that prices would be “low” – they typically sell for less than condos because the rules are more restrictive, and they generally have to be owner-occupied. Interestingly enough the website where the sales are being advertised doesn’t say anything about whether they are condos or coops, which I found a little strange.

  • It sounds like a good deal, but I don’t know much about the haunted history of the Chastleton. The building, though, is killer and I’d totally want to tell people “Oh I live in the Chastleton, what about you?” and sound all smug. I always sigh when I walk by it and imagine living there. Not like my current digs are bad, they’re just not the “Chastleton.” At work I can’t look at any of the links so I can’t tell what the inside is like, but I am intrigued.

  • u street girl – while the building outside is indeed stunning, the units inside are not, as this building was completelt gutted years ago and then turned into apartments before converting to a coop. So unless the owner renovated the unit him or herself, you are still looking at buying a soulless coop unit. A friend of mine who lived there during the conversion bought his unit and it is small, dark and has a kitchen from the 1970s. The lobby and ballroom are still nice, though.

  • Actually all the units were renovated by the developer, not just the exterior. So they may not have period charm, but they are all nice and new and gleaming.

  • Lived there 2001-2002. Agree with anonymous — actual units are not that nice. We had a huge living room, but our bathroom was skanky to say the least. Our kitchen sucked. Even if they renovated it, I still can’t imagine it’d be worth it to buy there.

  • The reason the prices are so low is because Its a coop. This town is very anti-coop, I have actually seen realtors tell their clients not to buy coops because they are only for low-income people or they will not appreciate as much (both statements are totally false).

    Then you have other misconceptions about coops which drive buyers away like: the condo fees are very high for a new conversion. Comparing coop fees and condo fees doesnt make any sense because they dont include the same things (taxes for example).

    Interestingly enough, I have heard NYC is big on coops but shuns condos. go figure

  • Eh… I checked these out right after they (keener/squire, I think?) converted. In addition to being co-op, the units I saw were all VERY small, regardless of actual square footage, if that makes sense. Such small room footprints and very high ceilings (which nomally are lovely) made me feel like I was standing in the bottom of a milk carton.

  • Vonstallin

    I use to love this girl that lived there in 1990…ah…the memories…
    Melody I miss you…

  • Well that’s a bit of a bummer, that the inside doesn’t match the outside. I guess I’ll just have to continue to daydream about the way the units should look.

  • Vonstallin

    Oh and the studio she had was like a super sized Closet. I would have died from clustaphobia

  • this is def coop. I toured a bunch of units with a friend who was looking last fall. Some are small but the renovations are pretty standard. wood floors, granite countertops. The lobby is very nice and fancy though. Typically in a coop you pay 2/3 of what a typical condo mortage would be and 1/3 is monthly coop fees (although unlike condo fees, coop fees are often tax deductible if a portion of it is paying down the master mortgage for the coop). so your monthly payment to the bank may be 1600 but you are paying an additional 800 to the coop…so 2400 total which is typical condo mortgage. You just have to do your homework but yes its extra hoops to jump thru. My friends had to provide all kinds of personal financial info to the coop board before approval (they bought at another coop). they just never caught on in DC but their pretty standard in NYC.

  • I remember the nice thing about coops was that it allowed a fair amount of discretion in who lived in a place. Ie, coop members had more legal leeway to say “no” to folks they didn’t feel would be a good fit for the place, and to establish rules along the lines of a homeowners association. I think a condo setup basically forces you to govern only by DC law regarding tenants and such. Not that a coop allows you to violate that law of course, but you can say things like “no loud noises and gun shooting all night long.” Whereas with a condo, once the wild partiers with guns get in the door, they can stay there until time ends.

  • Agree with comments re: size. I checked these out about 2 years ago before buying my condo and they were teeny tiny. My condo is 550 sq ft and it is positively palatial compared to some of the affordable closets they’re selling over there.

  • In DC, most co-op fees include taxes. It basically evens out with condo fees and taxes, in most cases. Just for the record. 🙂

  • Like any big building, there are a variety of sizes and layouts. 300 square foot studios to 1,000 square foot 2 bedrooms. Although it would’ve been nice if they tooka couple of floors and rebuilt them into VERY big apartments, which I think the market in that neighborhood could bare (some friends got in several bidding wars on $1 million dupont apartments)

  • My wife and I looked at it and talked to sales staff about buying. Here is the short summary: It is a co-op that has been renovated very recently. The renovation was very nice but not spectacular. At each level, the units are a good bit smaller than in most large buildings–the 2br’s were like 800 sq.ft. as opposed to the 1,000 or so average we saw in other buildings and neighborhoods. Also, the underlying mortgage on the building translates to a very high co-op fee. Finally, and most significantly, owners may not rent the unit out. So, if you decide you need more space you have to sell, regardless of the state of the housing market. This last is the reason that co-ops are less attractive to most buyers.

  • The levels of renovation on the units vary widely because when it was converted, the people renting apartments had first right of refusal and some bought their units without renovation.

    The developer did indeed do an extensive renovation and notably restored the interior lobby to its original fabulousness. I had been in the building numerous times during the restoration process and it was quite a transformation.

    Somebody else may have mentioned it, but the building is in the James Goode book, “Best Addresses”.

  • If you look at smaller condo buildings in Logan, your $400k can get you up to 200 more sq. ft. In addition to the high fees at the C, the parking costs are also silly. For $10k at time of sale, you can buy the right to rent a space. Continue to pay your rental fee religiously, and you will have the option to buy that space once the underlying lease is paid off. You have no way of knowing what your total costs will be and no way of adding those costs into your mortgage as you could when purchasing a space outright.

  • Wow, this sounds like a great place to stay away from for a lot of reasons.

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