Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Journey to the Fortress Astoria

So my roommates and I recently moved out of our ridiculously fantastic Chelsea loft. My three roommates, who I've known since college, had lived there for nearly 13 years (I had only been there less than 3), so we had managed to pay a reasonable amount for a space that was over 2,000 square feet and occupied the entire floor of the building. Our elevator opened directly into our apartment; it was a quintessential yet unique New York apartment experience. The building had been sold at the beginning of the year and the new landlords finally got around to handing us our walking papers. Either that or we could pay over double the rent (they were raising it to $7,700!)

Since that wasn't going to happen, we negotiated an extended term of occupation with the new owners to give us some more time, and commenced a rather exhausting, two and a half month search for a new place that would accommodate the needs of four, rather fussy middle aged men. To make a long, LONG story short, we came across a few great, near misses, a great many not-even-closes, and a large number of fair to middlings. (I'll be making a video of our apartment search in the near future.)

During this time, a friend of mine, Wendy, predicted that we would end up finding our apartment in the final two weeks before we had to move. "Everyone in New York finds their apartment in the last two weeks," she assured me.

Meanwhile, those final two weeks approached and panic began to set in. Negotiations on a GORGEOUS Harlem townhouse fell through because of a rather shifty pair of landlords who kept changing the terms of the lease and didn't know anything about the place, as they had never lived there. The roommates began to make alternate plans - one had begun to suss out one-bedroom apartments and the rest started looking at three-bedrooms/two-bedroom combinations. My personal emergency exit plan involved me shoving most of my things into storage and taking my camera and computer around the world for a couch surfing tour (not the worst plan in the world, actually - part of me was kind of looking forward to it).

But, lo and behold, in the final two weeks, success: we happened upon a converted, duplex office space in Astoria, a neighborhood we had all grown fonder of during our various apartment searches. The building was three floors, with a storefront on the bottom level and two levels of "office space" above that. Apparently the original owners had built it to be an office, only to find out afterwards that it wasn't zoned for office space. It sat vacant for years while they tried to change the permits, and finally earlier this year they sold it to our current landlord (who is a story in and of himself, for another time) who made a few minor adjustments to convert it to a residential space.

We all fell in love/confusion when we first saw the place. It was huge, for one, but more importantly it was unique and quirky enough that it matched up with who we are and where we are in our lives. Plus, a backyard!

More later, but for now, check out some pictures of the place.


A said...

good hunting, shya

CodenameMJ said...

I'm saddened. The old place was fabulous. But, this place looks kickass too.