Retired ad executive and current antique dealer Claudia Moran bought this 1887 Montrose Morris-designed mansion at 247 Hancock Street in Bed-Stuy in 1990 and began a lengthy renovation project. But, as it turns out, part of the house was renovated by someone else—six years ago, furniture designer Ben Erickson, who was living across the street at the time, offered to renovate the mansion's top floor under the condition that he could live there with reduced rent. Moran took him up on the offer and they worked out deal for Erickson to pay $1,250/month for a five-year lease. (Apparently, the market-rate value was $2,250/month, although it's unclear how they arrived at that number since the apartment was basically unlivable before Erickson got his hands on it. But anyway, it seems like it worked out fine for both parties.) The entire house is now on the market for $6 million.
Apartment Therapy sat down with Erickson, as did Brick Underground, back in June, to talk about his process for renovating the apartment. The initial renovation took him about four months, after which he was able to move in and start refining things. He ended up raising the ceilings to 12 feet, put in a slate floor in the kitchen, and added a walk-in closet, built-in bookcases and custom millwork. Altogether the job cost him $60,000 ("I didn't pay full price for anything," he tells Brick Underground) which happens to be the exact amount he saved on rent.
Now that the house is on the market, Erickson has to move out. But he's hoping to repeat the process elsewhere. Six months ago, he emailed a bunch of friends, family, real estate people, and design blogs, looking for a new Brooklyn property owning willing to hammer out a similar deal.
· Ben's Renovated Brooklyn Penthouse [Apartment Therapy]
· This Brooklynite Wants Cheap Rent--And He's Willing to Renovate for It [Brick Underground]
· 247 Hancock Street coverage [Curbed]