Take It Or Leave It

A brand new Harlem two-bedroom with two gardens—and an 18-month commitment

By Lucy Cohen Blatter  | November 26, 2014 - 12:59PM

For anyone sick of ramshackle walk-ups, this Harlem two-bedroom on the ground floor of a new elevator building may be the answer. With two outdoor gardens and two bathrooms, this $2,995-a-month rental also has a dishwasher, washer/dryer, storage, and big closets in the bedrooms. Plus, you won't pay a broker's fee, and it's just a couple of blocks from the 125th Street transit hub. 

So why has it been on the market for two months and seen a $200 reduction in the rent? It might be because it's below ground (read: dark). It might also be because the landlord is looking for an 18-month lease, rather than the usual year-long stay. That's a benefit and a downside for tenants: your rent won't budge for a year and a half, but the lease will come due in the summer months—the busiest season in the rental calendar, and a time when landlords typically raise their prices. This landlord might be looking to do the same when the lease comes up. 

We asked our veteran renters—including RentHackr founder Zeb Dropkin, freelance writer Lambeth Hochwald, and myself—to weigh in on whether it's worth it for this week’s Take It or Leave It.

Size: 2-bed, 2-bath
Location: 145 West 123rd St. (between Lenox and Adam Clayton Powell)
Cost: $2,995/mo, no broker's fee
Flexible Layout: No
Days on the market: 60 Days
Subways: 2,3, 4,5,6, A,B,C,D at 125th St; B, C at 116th

Pros and Cons:

"This spacious apartment would certainly appeal to anyone who likes their place to feel brand new. It's not overflowing with charm, but it's modern, with nice finishes. Also, there's no broker fee! On the downside, it appears as though the entire apartment is either ground level or subterranean, which means you're not going to get a lot of light. And the kitchen storage space looks small—you'll probably need to invest in some more pieces if you have more than a little bit of kitchen gear. Also, no photos of the bedrooms? Seems slightly suspicious." - Lucy

"At first this place seems amazing—a two-bedroom, two-bath duplex with two private outdoor spaces for under $3,000 and no fee! The negatives aren't too bad: the only shower is downstairs, you're paying a premium for the new place, and the rent is going way up in 18 months​." - Zeb

"This cavernous no-fee duplex in a 12-unit newly constructed Harlem building, wedged right next to a gorgeous church, boasts two outdoor spaces, plenty of room to spread out and a kitchen with Caesarstone countertops. Here’s the only trouble: The place feels a bit like a whitewashed basement, the windy staircase makes it a non-starter for couples with little kids and the windows aren’t so generous—which might be why this has lingered on the market for so long and why the unit has experienced a massive piece drop since it was first listed in September. I’d also want to know why this is being offered as an 18-month lease. Why not 12?" - Lambeth​

Who would this apartment be perfect for?

"A couple of roommates or a small family who value modernity more than light. It'd also be great for people who like to entertain, especially in the summer." - Lucy

"Roommates or a couple that will enjoy the outdoor space to the fullest, and can manage around one shower without any issues. Dogs could be very happy here." - Zeb

"Two pals who want to check out Harlem living and who could knock it with Red Rooster just around the corner and a Whole Foods opening up on 125th and Lenox Avenue in 2015." -Lambeth

The Verdict(s):

TAKE IT "If you can get over the lack of light, and you really want some outdoor space. " - Lucy

TAKE IT "But only after verifying what's missing from the pics, like what's the yard look like? And be prepared to move or pay a lot higher rent in 18 months. " - Zeb

TAKE IT "Provided you're not a natural light fanatic, don’t need a doorman and can deal with a shared bathroom for shower purposes." - Lambeth

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