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Stepping Out of the UWS Comfort Zone, But Only to Look

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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.

Karen Schnelwar lived in a building on 72nd Street on the Upper West Side for six years until she decided that buying her own place was a smarter choice than continuing to rent. She loved her part of town all the way on the west side, but decided she would at least look downtown in Greenwich Village. Though she liked it down there, Karen couldn't maintain the distance from her nabe. After a couple of duds both downtown and uptown, she found a winner on Riverside Drive, right by where she was renting. At least she got to see downtown on her search?

Enjoying the “non-urban feel” of Riverside Drive and the inspiring statue of a contemplative Eleanor Roosevelt across 72nd Street, she wanted to remain in her microneighborhood, preferably west of West End Avenue in the low West 70s. On a whim, she went to an open house for a penthouse apartment in a prewar co-op building on West End Avenue and 71st Street.

Her budget, for a one-bedroom with some sunlight in a prewar doorman building, was up to $600,000.

...they spent a day in Greenwich Village. The only real possibility there was a 600-square-foot one-bedroom on Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street in a sufficiently charming prewar co-op building. It was listed at $550,000, with monthly maintenance of around $1,700.

Ms. Schnelwar didn’t like the layout and declined to pursue the apartment

Back uptown, an obvious choice was Schwab House at 11 Riverside Drive, the 633-unit co-op building built about 1951. An updated one-bedroom there contained a relatively spacious 700 square feet. But Ms. Schnelwar couldn’t fathom living in a postwar building.

That apartment sold for the listing price of $599,000, with monthly maintenance of a little over $1,100.

And there it was: a 600-square-foot one-bedroom in an Art Deco co-op building on Riverside Drive cater-corner from the Chatsworth. The apartment, listed a year before at $499,000, was now down to $425,000.

Ms. Schnelwar, who now has a job in the field of brand strategy at a small agency downtown, bought the apartment for $417,000.

· Hiding in Plain Sight [NYT]