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Seeking Space to Cook & Entertain in 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.

Reginald Johnson was used to having enough room for his love of cooking and entertaining when he lived in New Rochelle, but when he decided to move to Brooklyn he learned he would need to compromise. His desire for a spacious living area with room to entertain and hold his many books coupled with the need for an equally spacious kitchen led him to look in Williamsburg but he eventually ended up in Downtown Brooklyn. Of course, there were handfuls of roadblocks including delayed occupancy dates and other goodies. It is The Hunt of course, what do you expect?

-For a price in the low to mid-$400,000s, Mr. Johnson wanted a home in a relatively small building where he could meet his neighbors. He needed not only a spacious kitchen but also a living area big enough for working and entertaining. -In almost every apartment, he deemed the living space too small.

-He thought he had finally found his home at the Keap Street Lofts, a 13-unit building with an ideal location. “It was on what I call the first outer ring of Williamsburg,” Mr. Johnson said. That meant within walking distance of the main drag, Bedford Avenue.
He was happy with the 780 square feet but less so with the quality of the appliances. He planned to gut the kitchen.

-The asking price was $445,000. In December 2009 his offer of $417,000 was accepted. Then, delay followed delay. The next spring he was told that the building’s certificate of occupancy would be issued by the fall.

-Meanwhile, he lived like a nomad, either staying with friends or taking monthlong sublets, always thinking he would close soon, soon, soon. By now he had negotiated the price to $402,000; “I thought it was too good to pass up,” he said.

-Increasingly annoyed, he began looking at other places. He was later able to cancel his Keap Street contract.

-He liked a one-bedroom at Warehouse 11, a 120-unit building near McCarren Park. The building had dropped prices so much that Mr. Johnson believed the resale value would be good.

-His first and final offer was $390,000. The developer countered with $395,000. Neither would budge. “I think really in my heart I didn’t want it,” Mr. Johnson said. The unit later sold for $410,000.

-But nearby in Downtown Brooklyn, prices at be@schermerhorn caught his eye.

-He chose a “one-bedroom plus” apartment with 843 square feet, listed at $439,000, satisfactorily furnished with GE Profile appliances and a water line to the refrigerator. His unit, with an extra windowless room, is bigger than a typical one-bedroom but cheaper than a two-bedroom.

-His new home cost $420,000. Monthly charges are just under $700.
He moved in last fall, within three weeks of signing the contract. The compromise was no washer or dryer in his unit.

· Space for Spices, Gadgets and Guests [NYT]