Amy and her husband John were looking to combine two small apartments in a classic Art Deco building in Union Square. The couple had shared a relatively comfortable space in Astoria Queens for several years but the toll of a daily 45 minute commute to their jobs in lower Manhattan, along with a chance at easier access to nearby schools and daycare for their five-year-old meant they were very open to the possibility of moving into Manhattan.
“We are well aware of the irony. Most people, when their family is growing, look to move out of the city. We went in the other direction completely,” says John with a smile.
When Amy spotted a listing for a one bedroom and studio apartments in Union Square on Streeteasy.com she was excited at the possibility of making a new home among the hubbub and urban clutch of chic coffee shops and quaint bookstores that have come to define this burgeoning neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Plus the location was literally blocks from her place of work.
“We knew from the start that we actually needed a three-bedroom apartment. So when I saw the listing, we pounced. We have a five-year-old, and at the time I was pregnant with twins,” Amy told us.
The couple immediately saw a chance to expand their nest. Combining the one bedroom with the studio apartment next door should give them enough space to create a decent sized three-bedroom apartment. Surely a rare find in what’s quickly becoming one of the pricier areas of Manhattan.
Amy and John's real estate broker, Jared Blumberg of Bold New York, knew there were some obstacles to overcome before going into contract on both apartments. “Putting a deal like this together on the brokerage side, with two sellers, each with a broker, and us, was more complicated than your normal transaction. But, the finished product was more than worth it!” said Blumberg.
Dealing with the building's co-op board was a bit more tricky however. Amy and John’s proposed renovation request would be only the second time in the building's history that a tenant would be allowed to combine apartments, and there were concerns about messing with the buildings aging electrical system. Plus John and Amy would be the only family in the building with three small children. However after some initial wrangling, cooler heads prevailed and the couple was given permission to proceed.
Working closely with Bolster architect Agustin Ayuso the couple was able to realize their vision. The project would require decommissioning the kitchen in the old studio space and breaking through a wall to connect the two apartments. The new spaces were transformed into two kids’ bedrooms. And to finish, the floors were upgraded and the walls freshly painted.
The end result lived up to Amy and John’s vision of a spacious, well-lit three bedroom with dedicated rooms for their three kids, a comfortable living room and a master bedroom that they could hide away in.
The project was completed for $350K. The entire renovation took just four months to complete and the family is settling in nicely. There have been a few noise complaints, but ironically the trouble makers are the three college age tenants upstairs that insist on having a weekly fantasy football party. Amy and John are taking it in stride. “We live in Union Square!”
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