The Old Downtown

By Robert Plunket April 9, 2007

The new downtown apartments are nice—but the old ones have the best views.


By Robert Plunket

In spite of a vast oversupply, a lot of people seem to be moving into a new apartment downtown. But have you considered the alternative –an old apartment downtown?


The reason is simple. They have the best views. They were built back in the '70s in the premium locations and today they still have the knock-out views the other buildings can only dream of. If you can live with their drawbacks and idiosyncrasies you can find something remarkable for under $600,000.

16B One Watergate


The first building I checked out was One Watergate, which is, as they say in the ads “next door to the Ritz.” On the 11th floor is a unit that has been updated in an acceptable though not lavish way; it has so many views I lost count: the bay, the marina, the Ritz, the bridge. It’s $599,900. On the 16th floor is a more up-to-date remodel, with coffered ceilings and better detailing, and again those killer views. It also has its own washer and dryer. It’s been grandfathered in (One Watergate doesn’t allow them in the units—a major drawback). It’s priced at $699,900. And while $100,000 seems a lot to pay for a washer and dryer, I have reached the stage in life where I no longer am willing to go out in the hall with a roll of quarters. Call Jan Nemec at 955-5382.


At the Regency down the street they do allow washers and dryers if they back up against a bathroom wall. (See Watergate? It can be done.) The Regency is that odd octagonal building, so ugly it’s kind of cute. (Mitchell Merling, that wild curator from the Ringling used to live here.) The lobby is scheduled for a renovation; see it quick while it’s still a '70s time warp.

Rooms with a view: Looking out from No. 604 at the Regency House.


The great glory of the larger Regency units is their amazing living room, 33 by 20. Unit 604 has one these. And the view! You walk in and stop in your tracks. Straight ahead is a wall of windows. The entire bayfront is before you: the park, the marina, the high rises clustered around the Ritz. This apartment is a real hard-luck story. Originally $850,000, it’s been reduced in increments until its now $599,000. Steal it! (There’s also a large three bedroom (#301) that overlooks the pool and treetops, extremely pleasant and a very good buy at $639,000.) Jaye De Forest at 504-7143.


The big drawback with One Watergate and the Regency is that they don’t take pets. How silly. All the new luxury buildings take pets. How can these old buildings, as charming as they are, hope to compete? In today’s market their no pet policy is compromising their value. Maybe it’s time to change the condo rules?
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