Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tudor City away!

It took me a couple of days to recover from seeing the Tudor City place - $1600/month (or is that $1650?) studio by owner. I had hyped it up into such a frenzy that I could barely sleep on Monday night. My viewing time was scheduled for 7:35 PM, but I could only make it at work until 6:30. I left work, took the 6 to Grand Central, and strolled around awhile to get a feel of the neighborhood.

And wow - what a place! First of all, Tudor City place is built above the rest of the city between 1st and 2nd Aves. So I literally climbed the stairway to heaven. At the top of the stairs was a beautiful small park, which I strolled into and sat down in. Trees, flowers, and the like made for a suburban-style setting. A crew was around filming a new Ben Kingsley movie, which only added to the idyllic setting. I felt like I was home.

I'd done some research and found out that Tudor City was originally built to be hotel-style housing - no kitchens in the apartments. I had no idea how that would be reconciled in today's world. I'd even found a floorplan of the tower and knew I was in for a long, narrow apartment. The tower my apartment was in was Prospect Tower, which has a huge neon "Tudor City" sign on top.

At 7:15, I could wait no longer. I was scared of losing the apartment. I walked though the revolving doors, announced myself to the doorman, and rode the elevator to the 15th floor. I knocked gently on the ajar apartment door and started to let myself in until **SLAM** the door hit another door. Uh-oh. I got an apology from inside - it turns out I'd hit the bathroom door.

They cleared the way and in I went - and oh my lord. I don't know what I was expecting, but this was NOT at all what I'd thought. To figure out how 300 SQ feet might look, I had measured and blocked off that space in my current living room. It was small, but felt doable. There is no way the apartment I saw was 300 SQ feet. I would guess even 250 SQ feet is being generous. When you are talking small spaces, it's a big difference.

There was ample closet space, but that is the only nice thing I can say. The renter said I sleep here and that's it. And I could understand - the only furniture was a full bed and a chair. Oh, and a runner. The kitchen had literally been built into one of the closets. Two cabinets. The mini-fridge you had in your college dorm room. A sink from the 1950s. Two burners. No microwave. No oven. No way.

The apartment had one small window which didn't let in a lot of light. It was like a cave. The bathroom looked like it hadn't been redone in 40 years. Character is one thing, but the caulk was missing in several places and the bathroom said "five minutes or less of hot water" to me.

There was a couple looking at the place at the same time as me. (I can't even imagine what they thought!) I talked to the tenant for a bit before the couple and I escaped together. If the owner paid me to live there, maybe. But I wasn't going to waste an opportunity - I headed for the roof deck.

Luckily, the movie crew was done filming on the roof, so I had no trouble getting out there and the couple came with me. We chatted politely until we walked out onto the roof and our jaws dropped.

Clear views of the Chrysler building, the Empire State spire, the East River and of course the UN. The roof itself was gorgeous too...

It was well worth the trip. If only I'd found a cool apartment too.

That night, I was disappointed and feeling a bit exasperated. Commiserating, I did a Google search for Tudor City when I stumbled upon the most wonderful thing - a site for a brokerage specializing in Tudor City rentals! I browsed the listings and could not believe it - studios for $1400-$1600 - way more in my range. This was much more realistic. I could live in Tudor City after all!

After another sleepless night of anticipation, I called the brokerage promptly at 9 AM the next morning and left a voicemail. When I hadn't heard back by 11, I called a different broker about another listing and left another voicemail.

By 2 PM I was going nuts. What the hell was the deal? I read through the site a bit more, and scrolled through the source and footer (I work for an Internet company, after all). In the footer, I found my answer - site copyright date of 2003. Sure enough, a few minutes later a broker called me back and told me that she had no idea what I was calling about. I told her about the website and she just laughed, saying that Tudor City had gone co-op in the '80s and the prices I was quoting were very outdated. A studio in Prospect Tower now goes for about $1750. Super. There was only one available now, for $1750 so that was probably out of my budget, wasn't it? Yes, it's out of my budget...thanks for reminding me.

In hindsight, it's good it didn't work out, because the lack of space would have quickly killed me. But I now have a new dream - affording a 1-br in Tudor City. Someday, baby.

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