A Gowanus Rental Charms With Amenities


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THE RENTERS Brady Donnelly and Alexandra Hirsch.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Three years ago, Alexandra Hirsch moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, taking in a friend as a roommate. The sunny two-bedroom was nicely redone inside. “It was stereotypically perfect Brooklyn,” she said.

Ms. Hirsch, 28, an interior designer for an architecture firm, met Brady Donnelly through her roommate. Mr. Donnelly moved in a year ago, and later the roommate went off to travel.

The apartment was in the thick of hipster Brooklyn, atop the restaurant Five Leaves, on a corner near McCarren Park.

“It was really busy, really central, a hectic and young place to live,” said Mr. Donnelly, 29, who owns a digital creative agency, Hungry.

“There were so many tourists eating at Five Leaves, if we were walking our dog, Hudson, it felt like we were entering a crowd,” he said. “It’s like you are on display.”

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CROWN HEIGHTS Unhappy experience with a top-floor unit ruled out a place on Dean Street. And the dog would not like the stairs.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Friends who lived nearby started moving elsewhere in Brooklyn. The couple’s top-floor apartment had leaks after storms. “I once had every single pot and pan out holding water,” Ms. Hirsch said. They were also concerned that Hudson, an Old English bulldog, would eventually have trouble with the stairs.

The catalyst for their departure, however, was the rising rent, which was pushing $4,000 a month. They didn’t need a second bedroom. “We were basically paying for a storage room,” Ms. Hirsch said.

Last summer, they began the hunt for someplace smaller and cheaper, between $3,000 and $3,500 a month.

The couple wanted to stay in Brooklyn, and hoped for a sunny, dog-friendly one-bedroom in a charming brownstone, with few stairs for Hudson. Condition was important so “we wouldn’t have to worry about coming home to a leak or something broken,” Ms. Hirsch said.

Ms. Hirsch took charge of the hunt. They considered a top-floor two-bedroom on Dean Street in Crown Heights, for just $2,800 a month, but were leery of the stairs and another potentially leaky top floor. “It would be moving laterally, aside from we would be spending less,” she said.

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WILLIAMSBURG 347 Lorimer, a renovated clothing factory, got a lot of things right. But the area was unprepossessing.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

Everything Ms. Hirsch visited seemed lackluster. “To make the move is a big deal,” she said. “It’s expensive and it takes a lot of time. There was nothing that made us want to jump when we saw any of them.”

After viewing 347 Lorimer, a renovated clothing factory in Williamsburg, the couple changed their approach. They liked the conveniences offered by the amenity-filled building, though they moved on because the neighborhood seemed desolate.

“Once we started thinking about ease of life, we started liking the idea of a new building with all of the amenities,” Ms. Hirsch said. “It will help us get through our day better.”

They had seen ads for 365 Bond, rising on Bond Street near the Gowanus Canal. The neighborhood seemed interesting and convenient. The building offered extras they knew they would use — a dog-walking service, a valet for dry cleaning, a rooftop, common rooms and a gym on-site rather than several blocks away.

Ms. Hirsch visited by herself, and was overwhelmed by the scale and sprawl of the building. “It’s like you are moving into a hotel,” she said. She was surprised at her interest.

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GOWANUS The amenities were a definite draw at a new building on Bond Street near the Gowanus Canal.

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Sasha Maslov for The New York Times

She summoned Mr. Donnelly. “I couldn’t tell if my anxiety was excitement or a bad anxiety,” she said. “I needed another opinion.”

His opinion was they should jump on it. “It was hard to come up with reasons not to,” he said. “They roll out apartment openings in groups, so we didn’t know if the next batch would fit within our budget.”

Ms. Hirsch preferred a boxy layout facing the street with a big kitchen that included a peninsula. Mr. Donnelly preferred a longer, narrower corner unit facing an interior courtyard.

But the apartment with the big kitchen had just been rented, so Mr. Donnelly got his wish.

The building’s 430 units are around 70 percent rented, said one of the leasing agents, Aster Thomas, a saleswoman at Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

The couple’s rent is $3,580 a month. They received one month free on a 13-month lease, making their monthly layout equivalent to $3,305. They arrived late in the summer.

As they expected, the building has made their lives easier. Delis and bodegas abounded in Greenpoint, but “the grocery store and gym and day care for the dog were so widely distributed that it was hard to get to them,” Mr. Donnelly said.

They no longer need worry about “how do I get to the gym and back without missing a morning meeting,” he said. The building “takes some of the stress away from the decision-making part of your life.”

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