Transitions

From Murray Hill to Sutton Place: I left Dullsville and noisy neighbors for more excitement and walkability

  • Buying a co-op meant lots of paperwork and dealing with rejection
  • But jumping on a pandemic-era price drop pays off big time
By Kelly Kreth | October 7, 2022 - 9:30AM

For Patty, the best part of her new one-bedroom co-op in Sutton Place is the private balcony. "What lovely breezes off the East River!" she says.

Tired of noisy neighbors and living in a "no man’s land," Patty decided to sell her place and find a new one during the pandemic when prices were dropping. Several board rejections later, she landed in a Sutton Place dream home, complete with her own balcony. Here’s her story.

I was born in New York City and raised on Long Island. Most recently I was living in an 850-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment on Madison Avenue in Murray Hill, where I had spent the last 16 years. It's in a white-glove co-op building with a great staff and laundry in the basement.   

The location is convenient for commuting—I own a modeling agency called IconicFocus Models with two partners. It's easy to catch buses on Madison. It's also midway between the LIRR and Grand Central. So I had no problem getting to my office in Sutton Place.

On the other hand, I did not like having noisy neighbors. I also felt like I was in “no man’s land” due to the lack of good restaurants, movie theaters, and other opportunities for social activities. And no grocery stores! When shopping for food I’d have to just carry a few items at a time because it was usually a long distance away.


[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series “Transitions” features first-person accounts of what it’s like to move from one New York City neighborhood to another. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]


Suffering a few co-op board rejections

I had already been thinking about selling and moving for a few years before Covid hit, so when I heard that home prices were declining, I figured it was time to act on that idea and buy elsewhere. I enlisted my friend, real estate agent Nancy Donahue of Keller Williams NYC, to help me sell my place and find another. She advised me to be realistic with pricing my home for sale and I took that advice. She sold it in just 49 days, even with a ton of inventory on the market! I then had to find a short-term rental to live in for two months before it closed.

Nancy also showed me about 10 places to buy. The buying process is work! I had to keep showing my bank account records, letters of reference, proof I wasn’t a felon…It got to the point I dreaded picking up the phone knowing it’d be a request for more paperwork.

But Nancy calmed me down and kept me level-headed throughout the process, despite being rejected by co-op boards, including for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in UN Plaza (that was out of my price league) and a smaller co-op in Sutton Place that I had the resources to buy, supported by great reference letters from world-class foundations and museums. (At least 30 people helped me with references. I sent them all bottles of olive oil from Carolina Gramm Olive Oil in Ojai, California.) Even still, a friend predicted I wouldn't pass muster and he was right. I could have appealed the decision but figured the board members just weren't on the same page as me.

Scoring a balcony in a full-service Sutton Place co-op

Finally I found “The One!” in the same Sutton Place neighborhood. It’s a fabulous one-bedroom co-op with thick walls—I never hear a single neighbor. And the best part is my balcony. What lovely breezes off the East River! There's also a beautiful roof deck, landscaped meditation garden, and new gym as well as a laundry room, private storage available for rent, and bike storage.

Fun fact: Our building’s facade was used for the opening scene in “How to Marry a Millionaire,” the 1953 movie starring Marilyn Monroe.

I bought the apartment for a bit less than what I sold my other apartment for, leaving me enough funds to finance a renovation, which will be handled by Heidi James Fisher of Studio LXIV and her team. Basically we'll be updating the electrical, flooring, closets, millwork, and kitchen and bathroom. Once that's complete the fun part can happen: decorating!

Meanwhile, the management team is great. Our super really cares about the building and its tenants. I had a plumbing issue with my shower, and he even called me from his vacation to be sure all was ok.

Being close to everything—even work

The neighborhood is the best! I’m close to everything, including my office. I can run down the street for a newspaper and groceries! For a bigger grocery shop, I love Trader Joe’s—and that it’s under the bridge. I'm also near Whole Foods, D’Agostino’s, and Morton Williams. I don't even have to leave the area for doctor appointments.

I love walking around the area and seeing all the cute dogs. Plus the crosstown bus stops right on my corner and the uptown bus is just two blocks away.

A few of my favorite places include Tal Bagel, Madison Restaurant, and Under the Bridge Restaurant along with the Ideal Cheese Shop.

DNY Hair Salon on First Avenue is the best; ask for Zoya for hair and Tammy for manicures.

My new go-to workouts are the 9 a.m. exercise classes led by Jeff Martin Fitness in Sutton Place Park on 56th Street (weather permitting). 

What I don’t love: The bicycle delivery people who don’t stop for pedestrians.

Bonus: Entertaining with a view

My family and friends love the place now and will love it even more when it is finished. I've already hosted a few luncheons on the balcony facing the river and to watch the fireworks on July Fourth—we had the best seats in town!

I am very happy with my decision to move to Sutton Place and plan on continuing to explore the vibrant area.


 

 

 

Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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