The men, both in their late 40s, declined to negotiate. They decided instead to hunt for a two-bedroom in a new rental building nearby. This time, they wanted outdoor space of their own. They aimed to maintain a good view, though “exactly what that meant was undefined,” Mr. Erdreich said. Their budget was up to $5,000 a month.
They were bedazzled by the just-opened Via 57 West, abstract and geometric. “It was like you are going into a concert hall, with a big staircase going up,” Dr. Slater said.
The available apartments and their terraces faced the interior courtyard. To their surprise, they loved the view, all sharp angles and lush greenery, rather than a distant horizon. But they were not happy with the closet space or the prices, with two-bedrooms ranging into the $6,000 and $7,000s. They’d have to downsize to a one-bedroom.
They headed to some other rental buildings in the low West 40s, but the neighborhood was filled with commuters and tourists. The view, looking down, was “a wasteland of parking lots and Port Authority stuff,” Dr. Slater said.
Every evening, they surfed through StreetEasy and found their interest piqued by the rental towers in Downtown Brooklyn, an area they were unfamiliar with. So one warm fall day, off they went for a look.
The buildings there seemed different from one another in quality and design, but two-bedrooms were not all that different in price. Most hovered around $5,000, with assorted concessions of a free month or two.
It was easy to narrow their choices to City Tower and the Ashland, which felt to them like the highest-quality buildings.
At City Tower, the available two-bedroom apartment included a massive terrace of nearly 1,000 square feet. “What are we going to do with so much space?” Dr. Slater said. “We could bring in 150 seats and a rolling screen and show outdoor movies.”
They needed no more than a place to sit outside. Besides, a terrace was cold and windy for part of the year. The space felt as much a liability as an asset.
The building’s location, above a shopping mall, was convenient but congested. “We were picturing hoards of people — and not the most restful way to come into your building every night,” Mr. Erdreich said.
The two-bedroom they saw at the Ashland had no outdoor space. The debate boiled down to too much terrace or none at all. The latter won, mainly because the views were beyond compare.
“Seeing the entirety of Manhattan — it took our breath away,” Dr. Slater said. “If we are looking at these stunning views all day, we can do without a terrace.”
They arrived earlier this winter, paying more than they intended. The rent is $6,121, with two free months on a 26-month lease, making for a “net effective” rent of $5,650, more than if they’d stayed put. They have so much space they had to buy a new couch.
They are on one of the highest floors of the 53-story building, which opened last summer. The Ashland is more than a third leased, said Nancy Holland, leasing director for the building’s developer, the Gotham Organization. The company is currently offering two free months on 14-month leases and three free months on 27-month leases.
The two men find the building friendlier than Mercedes House, with more conversations among neighbors. Their cellphone service isn’t quite up to par, though, with a dead spot in the kitchen.
They have faced some usual new-building issues, including elevators being briefly out of commission. “I was debating — should I try to walk up 50 flights?” Mr. Erdreich said. He decided to wait.
All that’s missing is a neighborhood barber shop they like. “It has surprised us how little we miss living in Manhattan,” Mr. Erdreich said.