A Visit to the Firehouse #25 Penthouse

Everyone I bump into someone looking for a condo on Capitol Hill I tell them to check out unit #12 at 1406 Harvard Ave, also known as Firehouse #25. The reason I’m so quick to recommend it is its screaming value, 2,307 square feet for $425k. Down nearly $200k; it first hit the market for $612k this April. And of course, I have a weakness for exposed brick, tall ceilings and vintage buildings in the Pike-Pine corridor.

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Now there must be some sort of catch right? This is the same place that was on the market for $1.2 million back in spring of 2007. And while the market has dipped since 2007, it has not dipped that much!

The catch is that this unit has seen much better days. To get a sense of the before and after, check out these listing photos from 3 years ago and compare them to the listing photos today. And here are the photos I took when I finally visited the place in August with an agent who shares my fascination with condos.

Gone are the fancy light fixtures, stainless steel appliances (including wine fridge), the vintage belt fans, the fancy shower, the 1,200 bottle wine cellar racks…

What’s left is the very outdated kitchen style, worn floors and lots of wear and tear.

Even after visiting the place I still think this is a very unique space and a steal at the current price. What makes it special?

But you’ll need to do some work:

Actually if I bought it, I’d just gut the whole place and start from scratch. I guess that’s why it is $425k and there haven’t been any takers yet. Or maybe its the what looks like water damage in the common areas.

Graph of appraisals

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About Matt Goyer

I'm the publisher of Urbnlivn and a real estate agent. I love lofts, floating homes, new construction and mid-century moderns but will help you buy or sell just about anything.
Get in touch to:
• Understand the market
• See homes for sale
• Sell your home

Contact Matt matt@urbnlivn.com / 206-618-1600

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  • anonymous

    Dues of $943, perhaps? And taxes < 6K.

  • anonymous

    >6K, I mean.

  • Guest

    Thank you for this write-up! $425k is quite a low price, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’re looking at $1500 a month PLUS principal and interest, not to mention any special assessments.

  • Yes, those monthly fees are high when you’re looking at just the current list price, but on a per square foot basis I don’t think they’re out of line.

  • Guest

    I checked this place out. I loved it, but there the high dues make it difficult to afford, and there is an assessment to replace the roof. This unit’s tab would be around $60,0000.

  • Ace

    Definitely an interesting foreclosure. The most recent sale I could find for the Firehouse was in July 2008 at $402 a square foot.

    Is that retrofitted earthquake reinforcement in the ceiling of the upstairs rooms?

    If the HOA can’t agree on or afford the necessary roof repairs, they are going to be in for a miserable winter because the forecast is WET.

    Despite it being cheap, I think an older building like this is a potential maintenance challenge. I bet the HOA has spent a ton on upkeep.

  • Jimbob

    Great looking condo in theory, – but the reality would be that it would swallow your money faster than Vegas. Huge HOD’s, huge taxes and a $60,000 assessment for the roof.. – the romantic in me would love to take the gamble, but even Vegas seems less of a gamble than this one. – Thanks for the post and the photos though.

  • EconE

    $60,000 for roofing just for this unit?

    That’s crazy. My dad reroofed a 5k sf house plus a 2k sf garage/guest house with firefree shingles that were nicer than these…


    for $70,000

  • Rx

    Delisted last week – I assume it was sold?

  • Pingback: Results of Firehouse Auction?()

  • 213loftcompany1

    gotta be honest 425K does not scream great deal to me.