Brooklyn may be undergoing warp-speed transformation courtesy of redevelopment and a slew of slick, new residential condo buildings commanding Manhattan real estate prices, but history has won the day in Brooklyn Heights.
The Low Mansion at 3 Pierrepont Place, built in 1856-57 and long considered the best single-family residence in all of the borough, registered big on the real estate Richter scale when it hit the market Feb. 4 with a whopping $40 million list price. The record-setting list price in Brooklyn had been $32 million for an 11,000-square-foot penthouse located at 360 Furman Street in the One Brooklyn Bridge Park building.
The Pierrepont property, which occupies almost 18,000 square feet on a 9,000-square-foot lot, deserves all the attention it has received, in part because of the way it overlooks the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and boasts views of the tip of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and Governor’s Island.
Original home of Abiel Abbot Low
The mansion, loaded today with original woodwork and detail, was the home of the spectacularly successful and well-regarded Abiel Abbot Low, who made his fortune importing silk and tea from China. The businessman and philanthropist was said to have watched his fleet sail in and out of the harbor from his well-sited mansion before he passed away from pneumonia, at home, on Jan. 7, 1893 — an event marked by an extensive obituary in The New York Times.
Low’s son, Seth Low, who grew up at 3 Pierrepont Place, went on to become the mayor of Brooklyn, and then mayor of New York after the the city merged all outlying boroughs into one municipality. Additionally, Seth Low became the first president of Columbia College and spearheaded the college’s move to the Morningside Heights location.
But back in Brooklyn, the Low Mansion for another century continued to hold a special place and status with its 15 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms and luxurious garden and outdoor space. The mansion’s architect was Richard Upjohn, who designed other magnificent buildings, including the Connecticut State Capitol.
Current owner bought it for $2.3M
The mansion’s current owner, Jeff Keil, purchased the property in 1991 for $2.3 million. The former banker told The Wall Street Journal that he’s willing to sell now because his family is spending more time in Florida.
According to listing agent Vicki Negron of the Corcoran Group, the building is currently subdivided into eight apartments, one of which is a sprawling two-story owner’s unit. The leases are short term, however, and the property could be delivered empty of tenants.
Still, with its $40 million list price, that brings the mansion’s per-square-foot price up to $2,300 — about $430 over the current Brooklyn Heights average of $1,870 per sq ft. So if this trophy property is purchased by a buyer who wants to restore it to its single-family status, the $40 million purchase price is just an entry fee. But what price can you place on an historic property so uniquely situated in one of the hottest real estate markets in New York, or anywhere?