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Crazy sexy cool

A former mental asylum and a "no-tell motel" are just two of the properties being converted as buyers continue to crave unconventional living spaces.

Finally, home buyers who want to live in unconventional, converted properties have choices beyond former factories and churches. In the residential neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, someone just paid $5.5 million for a huge, renovated Romanesque Revival mansion that in less prosperous times was known variously as a “hot-sheets hotel,” “neighborhood knocking shop,” “no-tell motel”. . . you get the idea.

A poster on housing blog Brownstoner.com claimed recently to have lived next door to the property and “for years we watched the 24-hour comings and goings of the hotel’s interesting clientele.”

Brooklyn manor: hourly rates no more

According to a 2004 New York Times article, the crumbling mansion was notorious in the neighborhood as a place where misguided out-of-towners would show up with their luggage and be told the rate was $15 an hour.

Meanwhile, in Salem, Massachusetts, real estate developer AvalonBay Communities has purchased the state-owned Danvers State Insane Asylum site for $11.4 million, and will begin transforming the property into luxury residential units. The development will have 433 rental apartments and 64 condos when completed with rental apartments starting at $1,350 a month and condos ranging from $390,000 to $500,000. Formerly called the State Lunatic Hospital, it was built in 1878 in a town known as the former site of the Salem Witch Trials.

The center was closed in 1992 following allegations of abuse and neglect. Many believe the property is haunted. Interested buyers do not seem fazed by the property’s history. As to whether the property is in fact haunted will be up to inhabitants to find out—maybe a séance or intervention will be in order along with the customary house-warming party. Then again, the mystique may even drive up property values.

Lust and insanity often define today’s real estate market, so these two conversion deals should surprise no one.