September 19, 2008

Cape Horn Lofts (540 Delancey) In General, And #401 In Specific

Cape Horn Lofts: 540 Delancey

Constructed as the Cape Horn Warehouse in 1892, and converted into the Cape Horn Lofts by Thompson Brooks and Pfau Architecture in 1997, 540 Delancey is now home to fifteen upscale “loft type” condominiums.

540 Delancy #401: Remodeled Kitchen

Purchased for $825,000 in June of 2004 and then remodeled in 2005 (sorry, no apple here), 540 Delancey #401 is back on the market for $1,150,000.

540 Delancy #401: Roof Deck

In terms of Cape Horn (and District 9) apples, however, 540 Delancey #203 did close escrow three months ago with a reported contract price of $900,000, purchased in February of 2006 for the same.

∙ Listing: 540 Delancey #401 (1/2) - $1,150,000 [] [MLS]

First Published: September 19, 2008 8:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

What's the target market for this type of place? Who does this appeal to? 1,150,000 for a 1 bedroom? Why would someone prefer this over all other choices in the city? And trying to charge $325,000 for the remodel in a down market... maybe a plugged in reader will throw some light.

Posted by: chuckie at September 19, 2008 9:47 AM

I love this building and can easily envision the target market for this property. It's in the heart of South Beach, has deeded outdoor space and sits in one of the few real conversion loft buildings. Empty nesters, couples who don't intend to have kids, wealthy singles (SICK bachelor pad - SICK!), etc, etc.

I'm not associated with the listing - i'm not suggesting it's what i'd purchase with $1,150,000 and I'm not telling you it's gonna double in value in 5 years - I am suggesting there's a viable buying pool for this property as it's an outstanding small conversion building in a great neighborhood.

Posted by: Coach A at September 19, 2008 10:00 AM

The neighborhood is this sort of weird, deserted area absolutely dominated by the din of freeway noise, in a hodgepodge of small and medium sized buildings. You really have to walk *out* of it to do anything. So as for a "great neighborhood", maybe it's better than the worst parts of Oakland, but I wouldn't go out of my way to pay 1.150 for that location.

But people can make up their own minds. You can look around using this link. Drag the photo sideways to turn and click on the blue dots to move forward.

Posted by: tipster at September 19, 2008 10:30 AM

I don't know, Tipster. It's only a couple blocks from Infinity and I don't hear people making those complaints about that neighborhood. South Beach continues to grow and develop -- there are a lot more restaurants and services than a year ago, and I'm sure there will be more by this time next year. Seems strange to compare such a nice, developing part of SF with "the worst parts of Oakland." I didn't think you lived in the suburbs, but maybe I was wrong.

Posted by: tharpo at September 19, 2008 10:44 AM

Wow, harsh comments Tipster as I wouldn't be so quick to judge unless you've lived in that neighborhood. I have and it's actually pretty great. In the past 7 years there's been no crime and I've felt completely safe there.
Having said that, I have heard that the building has it's own problems but so does a lot of buildings with such few units with a residential profile made up of such huge income disparities.

Posted by: shopgirl at September 19, 2008 11:13 AM

Nice but too much $$$ especially with the other recent comp cited at 900k three months ago, when the global financial picture was a bit less dire.

Posted by: Jake at September 19, 2008 11:44 AM

Wow, 2 properties in South Beach in 2 days! If the unit at Oriental Warehouse went into contract in a week, this should also. I love the Oriental Warehouse, but as Coach A mentioned, having the outdoor space is a major plus.

I mentioned this before, but I do think Delancey Street is the best block in all of SOMA. You are close to the water, Pier, Ferry Building and the Financial District which is moving south of Mission Street now. Plus, the neighborhood has it's own restaurants, retail and a lot of startups in the area. Plus, there's an awesome kid's park a block away and a place to let the dogs run.

Posted by: j at September 19, 2008 11:53 AM

@ shopgirl - what are these problems you're referring to in the building?

Posted by: pvc at September 19, 2008 11:55 AM

I also live in the area (8 years and counting). The weather is great, good public transport, easy freeway access, local services keep improving. I'm the right target for this unit - single, solvent, work within walking distance, follow the Giants, love being near water. Other than price, what's not to like?

Posted by: ellbee at September 19, 2008 1:22 PM

At first I thought this was the brick building at the other end of Delancy (668?), which I was admiring last night. I personally wouldn't want to live that close to 80 either. That goes for the Clocktower building too (there were three lofts going there, close to $500/sqft, which I thought was a pretty reasonable price). The loft next door to me (One Clarence #1) just went for 1.18M, and only has a common roof-top deck, so $1.15M for this place doesn't sound too astounding...


Posted by: Chris at September 19, 2008 1:42 PM

Actually I just took another look at the photos, and I really like it. If it comes down to $500/sqft like those at the Clocktower, I'd buy it tomorrow! :->

Posted by: Chris at September 19, 2008 1:50 PM

My thoughts exactly, Chris :) But seriously, if you guys will indulge me, what demographic will pick this over this one here? Both at the same price point.

Posted by: chuckie at September 19, 2008 2:06 PM

I had the opportunity to tour #203 the previous time it was on the market and this building is really special...the #401 unit has 2 stories with 2 outdoor spaces and 2 full bathrooms AND has that beautiful Butlhaup kitchen (unlike the #203 unit) so I'm pretty sure this unit will sell immediately. I wish I could afford it...

Posted by: tex at September 19, 2008 2:49 PM

I had the opportunity to tour #203 the previous time it was on the market and this building is really special...the #401 unit has 2 stories with 2 outdoor spaces and 2 full bathrooms AND has that beautiful Butlhaup kitchen (unlike the #203 unit) so I'm pretty sure this unit will sell immediately. I wish I could afford it...

Posted by: tex at September 19, 2008 2:49 PM

You guys are nuts - i rented a unit in that building for a few years and it's fantastic! The "problems" that you refered to have been fixed (a problem with the coating on the outdoor spaces which was fixed and then some a few years back). The neighborhood is booming with new life, crime is almost non-existant, and the Bay Bridge noise is completely shilded from this building by the one next to it! I looked around for almost a year to find a place to buy and finally ended up on 2nd street, but had this place been available when I was looking I would have paid 1.150 in a heartbeat! You really need to see this building and those roof-top units to understand their appeal. I'm confident they will get what they are asking in short order. Very unique place.

Posted by: Mare at September 19, 2008 2:58 PM

Seriously Tipster?? The location is PRIME - ballpark, great new restaurants, easy access to the Bay Bridge on-ramp, near downtown and the Ferry building....hey Tipster - maybe it's time you actually come to SF to see what you're talking about.

Posted by: Cmingle at September 19, 2008 3:04 PM


I love loft living. We rented a condo (at Baycrest) when we first moved to SF, but now I've lived in a loft for six months, it would be tough to go back to a condo (even one as nice as the one you listed).

What demographic am I? Married, professional, no kids planned, and "alternative". My wife is an artist. We are, basically, poster-children for loft-living! :->

ps - I loved scrolling down in that listing, and seeing the grafitti'd wall come up in the "street view!" :->

Posted by: Chris at September 19, 2008 3:17 PM

Comparing 540 Delancey to 1520 Taylor is comparing apples to oranges.

One is an interesting rehab with double height spaces, big industrial windows, and great outdoor decks. The other is a nice, but generic 2 BR condo with a great city view. One is quirky and fabulous. The other is sensible, with a little pizzaz (the view) thrown in. One is jeans and a black shirt. The other is a grey suit with a bright tie.

The two places have totally different aesthetics and appeal to completely different types of personality. Or, perhaps more accurately, to two completely different kinds of aspiration.

Posted by: salarywoman at September 19, 2008 3:28 PM

I'm confident that nothing in that building has sold for 500/sq ft since the Carter administration but good luck. Dare to dream...

Posted by: HappyOlder at September 19, 2008 3:40 PM

glad you're so excited about the building but as a renter , you wouldn't know half the stuff that was happening there. If you're a midrange buyer, then this is the place to be but for a highender, look for a building with better professional management.

Posted by: shopgirl at September 19, 2008 4:20 PM


> Nov 24, 1997 $490,000 (~= $400/sqft)

Clinton, not Carter... ;^>

And *if* you believe zillow (and face it, who does?), valued at $584k in Jan '03 ($475/sqft).

Yup, I dare to dream! 461 2nd St #457 (The Clocktower) is asking $999k ($550/sqft).

Posted by: Chris at September 19, 2008 4:29 PM

The other "penthouse" unit in the building is due to close for $3,200,000. Why is this such a shock? It is a HOT building in a HOT hood.

Posted by: know it at September 19, 2008 6:10 PM

I know the management company representation was a little weak, and I'm fully aware that the decking problem was dragged out about 2 years too long, but I was reading all the homeowner's meeting minutes (as well as attending most of the meetings) and the building is really a great place and there were no issues outside of the ordinary for a building of that type/size - I'd still buy there in a minute because it's such a unique building on a quiet street in a neat neighborhood.

Posted by: Mare at September 19, 2008 6:11 PM

I'm not sure were talking apples to apples when comparing that 540 Delancey building with the Clocktower, but if it works for you - great! This side of town is a really great place to live and it's clear you feel the same way!

Posted by: HappyOlder at September 19, 2008 6:21 PM

Chris, salarywoman... I kinda understand what you are saying. Clearly, someone loved this place before and someone is going to love it again. I brought up the Nob Hill property just as an example.

One more time, for anyone who might want to play, here's a link to 10 properties in South Beach within about a 1/3 of a mile of this place listed between $1.0 and $1.2 million. This is the only 1bed/2bath, everything else is 2bed/2bath. Is there anyone on the site who would pick this property over all the others? Thanks in advance to all who play :),2&min_price=1000000&max_price=1250000&max_listing_approx_size=1500&v=3&lat=37.784893282306335&long=-122.39123582839968&zoomLevel=15&market=sanfrancisco

Posted by: chuckie at September 19, 2008 7:33 PM

chuckie: Played the game, and you're probably right, at least for me (although this place is much *nicer* than some of those nasty white boxes like The Lansing, but I'm a sucker for value).

You know what really surprised me? The level of stuff available at that price point is singularly unimpressive. $1.2M for some of those places seems like highway robbery.

Posted by: Foolio at September 20, 2008 7:55 AM


Put your target a little lower and you would have hit my favourite in the area.

Just doing a very quick "picture scan", and not digging into too much detail - Delancy would certainly make my short list, while many of the others wouldn't... A lot of those places seem to place a lot of value on view, and I would be *really* nervous paying over the odds for a view in the northern part of that area, knowing that it could be totally eclipsed over the next few years. I think 88 King and 88 Townsend would make the short list, but that might be it.

My problem is - I can afford a $1.2M home, but I already have a $600k home in San Jose, and I just want to add another $600k home in SF to the mix. That kind of limits my choices somewhat (!), although things are getting closer, eg:

Posted by: Chris Tann at September 20, 2008 9:50 AM


Played the game. "Thanks but no thanks" for the Met, Lansing and The Palms! Neither of the 3 are ideal.

For the Watermark is ok, but the outside is hideous and the inside feels like a box. The area around it is great. Same goes for 88 King. The Brannan and 88 Townsend are nice. If I'd had to pick between all these, i'd take the Cape Horn Lofts or Oriental Warehouse. The unique building with the impressive and open inside is nice. The location for both are great. To expand your list, you can show me links to the Berry Street Boxes and I'll still pick these 2.

Posted by: j at September 20, 2008 10:24 AM

man for 1.150 it would be nice to have some sort of view. especially being in South Beach.

Posted by: Ryan at September 20, 2008 10:39 AM

Seriously, the person who complained about the neighborhood is a moron and obvioulsy knows NOTHING about South Beach. I lived there for 5 years (bought a unit at the Oirental Warehouse) and could not be happier with my choice of location.

The appeal of South Beach is unbeatable:

- Great weather, always sunny

- Easy access to highways (3 minutes onto Bay Bridge, 101/280) - great if you work in South Bay or Oakland

- Close to the water, ferry building, farmer's market, tons of nice restaurants...

- Nice, CLEAN neighborhood with virtually no bums

I sold my loft earlier this year and relocated to the East Coast. If and when I move back to SF, I would choose South Beach again in a hearbeat. Delancey Street is the best street in SOMA (and in my opinion, the whole of SF).

Posted by: GW at September 21, 2008 1:09 AM


461 2nd, #C112 is an interesting apple. Here's the link to the previous sales in 5/3006 for $622,000.
Will be intersting to see if they can get the $639,000 they are asking now.

Looking around some more, I do see that larger 1/1 lofts are a valid niche. I am now very curious how quickly it sells and at what price.

Posted by: chuckie at September 21, 2008 2:18 PM

i dont think this is a bad neighborhood, but i do think it is boring and soulless. Also, think the unit is about $300K overpriced.

Posted by: spencer at September 21, 2008 6:54 PM

Unless I'm mistaken, the "recent comp cited at 900k three months ago" is a single level, one bathroom, no outdoor spaces unit on a lower floor...not really an applicable comp to this unit.

Posted by: Smarky at September 24, 2008 9:17 AM

Just to be clear, we're not suggesting 540 Delancey #203 is a comp for 540 Delancey #401, but simply that #203's recent sale was an "apples to apples" transaction unto itself (purchased February 2006 for $900,000, sold two years and five months later for $900,000).

Posted by: SocketSite at September 24, 2008 9:51 AM

Did anyone catch this? 540 Delancey #402 closed for $3,100,000?

Is this correct? Wow! $3MILL. Anyone have pics of this unit?

Posted by: j at December 9, 2008 1:07 PM

Just looked it up and #402 is only 1245 sf. All for $3.1M.


Posted by: j at December 9, 2008 1:10 PM

3.1 mil is not just for unit 402.

Posted by: auden at December 9, 2008 1:37 PM

or atleast, unit 402 in its 1245 sq ft form.

Posted by: auden at December 9, 2008 1:39 PM

@ auden ...

huh? can you explain? how big was unit 402 and is there any pics online? i'd love to see the layout since #401 is amazing and more than 1/2 the price.

Posted by: j at December 9, 2008 1:51 PM

This is a beautiful condo/loft. Unfortunately the price still seems too high to justify. I love the area and particularly like this unit, but believe the price should be significantly lower. It came on the market too high this summer when prices were weakening, and the reduced price this winter is still too high for this market. The lofts and condos that have sold in the area are down about 20% from what they would have sold for a couple years back. Unfortunately for the seller, but I believe this property should be listed in the high 8's or bottom of the 9's, then it would sell, likely with multiple offers. (I'd probably be one of them.)

Posted by: loft cat at February 5, 2009 2:07 PM

3.1M was for the combined units 402 & 403. 2bed, 4bath, almost 3000 sq/ft. Huge, wraparound balconies with another 1500 sq/ft of outdoors spaces on 2 levels...unbelievable place.

Posted by: Michael at March 8, 2009 3:12 PM

402/403 sold again in 2011 for around $3M... An absolutely fantastic space in a great building...

[Editor's Note: The Penthouse Atop 540 Delancey Completes Its Two Year Trip.]

Posted by: Hans Metzger at June 3, 2012 8:48 PM

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