Take It Or Leave It

Take It or Leave It: Do a w/d and terrace make up for the jail across the street?

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In this installment of Take It or Leave It, our renters pass judgment on a 2-bedroom/2-bathroom duplex with in-unit laundry and a massive terrace located on the border of Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn. Our panelists—who collectively boast 43 years of rental experience between them—are RentHackr founder Zeb Dropkin, freelance writer Lambeth Hochwald, and BrickUnderground’s own senior editor, Lucy Cohen Blatter.

The Apartment:

Size: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
Location: 87 Smith St. between Atlantic Ave. and State St. in Downtown Brooklyn/Boerum Hill
Cost: $4,500/month + broker's fee
Flexible Layout: No
Days on the market: 43 days
Subway: F, G at Bergen St.; 2, 3 at Hoyt St.; A, C, G at Hoyt & Schermerhorn; A, C, F at Jay St.-Borough Hall; R at Lawrence St.; R, 2, 3, 4, 5 at Borough Hall; B, Q, R at DeKalb Ave.; 2, 3, 4, 5 at Nevins St.

Pros and Cons:

Zeb: “This 2-bed/2-bath duplex sounds fancy and is priced fancy. But except for extras like a patio and in-unit laundry, the apartment looks pretty standard.”

Lambeth: “So this duplex looks pretty dreamy, the kind of apartment where every detail has been thought through. Bendheim etched glass cabinetry! Okite Bianco countertops! The price is actually a touch less than some of the other amenity-filled 2-bed/2-bath apartments in the neighborhood though you will have to factor in a hefty broker fee for this one. However, the biggest downside is the location. Sure, you’re right at the edge of the hopping Smith St. bar/restaurant scene, but this apartment may very well look right out onto the roof deck across the street where the prisoners at the Brooklyn Detention Complex work out. Also, do a quick Google search and you’ll see that a lot of other apartments in this condo building are currently for sale (some with price reductions), which would prompt me to question what’s happening here.”

Lucy: “The apartment itself looks pretty amazing. Anyone else think it looks like Jessa’s short-lived marital home on Girls? It’s nearly 1,300 square feet and seems to have all the top amenities, including outdoor space. Plus, I love that kitchen. As for the cons, the listing says it’s on the border of Boerum Hill and Downtown Brooklyn, which probably means more Downtown Brooklyn, an up-and-coming neighborhood that lacks the charm that other neighborhoods in the borough have.”

Who would this apartment be perfect for?

Zeb: “Roommates looking for the homey feel of a duplex. Owners of small dogs might also appreciate being able to use the patio as a poop deck.”

Lambeth:  “A couple that loves this place’s proximity to pretty much every subway line under the sun, who don’t care that the building appears to be in flux, and who’d love nothing more than to sip cocktails at Misdemeanor, the lobby bar in the adjacent Nu Hotel.”

Lucy: “A young family that wants a good amount of space in a convenient area, or roommates who want the same thing.”

The Verdict(s):

LEAVE IT “At the end of the day you’re paying extra for a lot of space that you may not use.” —Zeb

LEAVE IT “Too many things worry me about the state of the building.”Lambeth

TAKE IT “It might be slightly pricey, but the space is pretty great.”—Lucy

Ready to rent? Check out our How to Rent Guide...and if the apartment you like requires a guarantor that you don’t have, see if the landlord accepts Insurent, a guarantor solution from one of BrickUnderground’s sponsors.


Take It Or Leave It is a weekly column in which a panel of long-time renters weighs in on the pros and cons of an apartment that’s currently on the market.

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