Renters: A Family of Three Prefers Stuyvesant Town to Midtown

Renters: A Family of Three Prefers Stuyvesant Town to Midtown

- in Real Estate

“Everyone kept raving about it, so we were like, ‘O.K., we’ll see an apartment.’ And the first apartment they showed us was like this,” said Ms. Carey, gesturing at the spacious living room and open kitchen of their newly renovated two-bedroom, two-bath unit, which they moved into a little over a year ago, paying $5,239 a month. “The open kitchen was the icing on the cake.”

The family’s living room and open kitchen.

Alex Wroblewski for The New York Times

Their housing costs now exceed what they paid previously; though they rent out their co-op, they said that the rent they collect covers little more than its maintenance and subletting fees. But then, moving to Stuy Town, as it’s often called, was never intended to be a cost-cutting move.

“This was a quality-of-life decision,” Mr. Carey said.

Ms. Carey nodded. “After I visited a few times, I just kept thinking, ‘This is incredible.’ We love the apartment. We love the community. After we moved in, there was just more and more: the Easter egg hunt, the farmers’ market, summer movies.”

“They even have an ice-skating rink,” Mr. Carey said.

“We feel like we live in a park,” Ms. Carey said.

Name: Joe Carey, Julie Beaumont Carey and Tommy Carey

Age: 49, 40s, 7 Occupation: Mr. Carey runs his own firm, Carey Strategic Communications. Ms. Carey is a principal at Liz Robbins Associates, a government affairs consulting firm. Rent: $5,239 a month, all inclusive with the exception of an $80-a-month air-conditioning fee. The Careys pay more than they did when living in their one-bedroom co-op, but they have gone from one bedroom to two and some 750 square feet to about 1,250. Healthier lifestyle: Since moving into the complex, Mr. Carey, who works from home, has abandoned a habit he cultivated in Midtown East: popping over to a cigar lounge, where he took advantage of the Wi-Fi and quiet atmosphere to power through the last few hours of work with a cigar. Friends following suit: One family of five they know moved to Stuy Town from 32nd Street after seeing the Careys’ apartment. Others tell them they wish they had known about the enclave sooner, like the couple who reluctantly moved to the suburbs and came to visit recently. “The wife was like, ‘If I’d have known about this, I never would have left. You even have a wine fridge!’” Mr. Carey said. “She was tearing up and just kept looking at her husband like, ‘Why did we move out there?’”

Neither was familiar with the complex before hearing about it from other parents at the school, which is within walking distance. Ms. Carey, who works for a government affairs consulting firm, had spent many of her 20 years in New York on the Upper West Side, from which she commuted frequently to Washington. A mutual friend surreptitiously set her up on a blind date with Mr. Carey, who worked in the Clinton administration and now runs a firm specializing in crisis communications.

A complex of apartments built in the late 1940s, Stuy Town passed six relatively uneventful decades as a middle-class refuge. Then, in 2006, Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock Realty bought the complex for $5.4 billion — the biggest real estate deal in American history at the time — and defaulted on their mortgage four years later. After several years of limbo and the settlement of a lawsuit over illegal rent overcharges, the Blackstone Group and Ivanhoé Cambridge paid more than $5 billion to take the complex over in 2016.

The recent history has produced a fairly wide age and income range among the tenants. “It’s a more diverse community, and that’s one of the really nice things about it,” said Ms. Carey, adding that longtime tenants often ask to step in and look around, curious to check out what the most recent round of renovations looks like.

She said that she and her husband have seen a variety of apartments in the complex as well, from modest one-bedrooms last decorated when their occupants moved in right after World War II, to a sprawling five-bedroom duplex cobbled together from two units. They have found that Stuy Town residents seem to have a penchant for neighborliness, whether inviting new tenants in for something to drink or taking in their dry cleaning while they are out and leaving a card to let them know.

Another thing residents at the complex are known for, of course, is staying put. And though the Careys have spent only a little over a year there, in this regard, they are already true Stuy Towners.

“We’ll stay as long as possible,” Ms. Carey said. “At least the next decade. We joke about moving back to Midtown when Tommy goes to college.”

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