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A Love of Art Deco: From Battery Park to Brooklyn

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If reading The Hunt stokes your deepest hopes that someday everything in life could work out, then you, too, are obsessed with the New York Times Sunday Real Estate section. Join us as we venture into the depths of this weekend's installment.

Kirsten Abrams and Jane Bishop are both special education teachers who were starting to feel a little cramped in their 600 square foot rental at the Le Rivage in Battery Park City. Finding that this was not enough space to entertain their friends (and also have a baby grand piano) they decided to buy something, initially only looking in Manhattan. After some failed tries Downtown, they found a roomy place they loved in Downtown Brooklyn.

-Their apartment in Le Rivage was small — too small, as it turned out: a little more than 600 square feet. They put their baby grand piano “in the corner where most people would have a dining table,” Ms. Bishop said, and their dining table against a wall “where most people would put a couch.” It was a drop-leaf table, so when friends came to dinner, they flipped up the leaf and moved the table to a more central spot. Still, if one person wanted to leave the table, someone else had to move. -The apartment was right off the West Side Highway, and it was not easy to feel a sense of community.

-About a year ago, the couple decided it was time to buy a place. They had a budget of around $500,000 for a one-bedroom.

-Early on in the search, they came close to buying at the Regatta, a condo building on South End Avenue in Battery Park City. The apartments there with views of the Statue of Liberty were too expensive. But an 850-square-foot one-bedroom with a terrace appealed to them, despite the fact that the tub in the master bathroom had been removed, leaving only a shower. When they saw the place, the price was $495,000.
But the common charge and taxes amounted to more than $2,200 a month. Examining the numbers, they realized they couldn’t afford it. (That unit is now in contract for $445,000.)

-They considered the 1929 Greenwich Club on Greenwich Street, another Art Deco skyscraper, converted in 2000 to rentals and in 2007 to condos. But units in their price range were around 600 square feet, hardly bigger than their rental.
“I was thinking, if we move off the grid of Manhattan into Brooklyn, there are many neighborhoods,” she said. “Why not Brooklyn?”

-Ms. Abrams was torn. “I am willing to live in a closet in order to live in a great neighborhood,” she said, “and Jane would rather have a lot of space.”
A friend suggested they look at BellTel Lofts, the 1930 building that was once home to the New York Telephone Company, so off they went to downtown Brooklyn.
Late last summer, the couple bought a 1,050-square-foot condo, technically a studio with a home office because the bedroom has no window. Ms. Abrams prefers it that way. When she has a migraine, she would rather be in the dark.

-The listing price was $572,000; the couple paid $565,000. Because the building takes advantage of the J-51 tax abatement, monthly charges are now around $350. Ms. Bishop, a public school teacher, says her salary will rise over time, so “as we have to start paying taxes, I would have more of an income to do so.”

Downtown Brooklyn or Battery Park City for your Art Deco housing needs? Which would you prefer?

A Brooklyn Apartment Beckons [NYT]