The Times calls the phenomenon a “struggle for light and air.” And indeed, while New York City architecture is lauded for both its design and innovation, the decades-long race to build bigger and taller has taken a toll on the cityscape, particularly in the form of shadows. While any recent criticism of the effect has been directed towards the tall towers rising along Billionaire’s Row, as The Upshot’s interactive map reveals, New Yorkers on the whole spend most of their time cutting through long stretches of shadow. The map documents thousands of buildings across the five boroughs, denoting age, height and the resulting shadows cast at ground level over the course of one day, down to the minute, during all seasons. As seen above, tall-tower haven Central Park South is cloaked in darkness 24/7 during the fall, winter, spring and summer months—but then again, if you peruse the map, you’ll see a lot of other blocks are too.
As the paper points out, New York City’s latitude and orientation (the grid is 30 degrees off of true north) gives way to a skewed sunrise and sunset, where in the summer the sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest, and in the winter the sun rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest; incidentally, the standard east/west sunrise/sunset is an outlying event that happens only the equinoxes when day and night are of approximately equal duration. As such, the angle and length of a building’s shadow will vary significantly depending on the time of year. Moreover, neighborhoods that exist in shade in the winter can also be soaked in sunlight in the summer.
Parts of the West Village exist primarily in the shadows during the winter but are bathed in sunlight during the summer months
However, according to research provided by Claudio Silva and Harish Doraiswamy, engineers at New York University, “on average, most neighborhoods in Manhattan are covered in shadow for at least half of daylight hours.” And this has considerable implications.
As the Times writes, “Sunlight and shadow shape the character and rhythm of New York’s public spaces … In most parts of America, sunlight is not debated the way it is in New York, where the city’s thirst for living space, working space and economic growth has turned the sun into a virtual commodity.”
We see this as New Yorkers often opt to skip over dark “side streets” sandwiched between more major thoroughfares like 14th Street, 23rd Street, or 57th Street, as well as with rents where smaller, independent retailers (and to be sure, sometimes big chains) will set up shop along darker corridors to save cash.
From its beginning in the 1830s, when Samuel B. Ruggles began to develop Gramercy Park in Manhattan, centered on a private two-acre green space, the neighborhood was meant for the moneyed class. It has expanded through the years to include blocks bordering the East Village and the Flatiron district, but the name still carries prestige.
Christopher Kremer, 28, cares about none of that. Last year he bought a 550-square-foot studio in a 1960s co-op on East 21st Street and Third Avenue for $549,000. “I just like the convenience of it,” he said. “For me, time is money.”
Mr. Kremer, a history teacher, walks to work at the High School for Health Professions & Human Services on East 15th Street. To afford his monthly mortgage of just over $2,000, he said he was cooking more and has stopped contributing to a retirement account that is separate from his teacher’s pension.
“New York City real estate seemed like a safe way to invest my money instead,” he said. “Because of the area, I don’t ever envision a problem reselling this place.”
Those more interested in privacy and status, and who have substantially deeper pockets, may gravitate to the blocks surrounding the gated Gramercy Park itself. The 19th-century architecture invites reveries of characters from Edith Wharton novels leaving their cards at imposing mansions.
7 GRAMERCY PARK WEST, #5D A two-bedroom two-bath condo with a key to the park, listed at $2.5 million. CreditSantiago Mejia/The New York Times
Arlene Harrison has lived on the park since 1971 and is the president of theGramercy Park Block Association, which has about 2,000 members.
“I know who’s moved, who’s cashing in on the value of their apartments,” she said, adding that in recent years the escalation has been “quite shocking.”
“Apartments that were $1.2 million or $1.3 went for $5 million, all cash, and you better put in a bid by tonight,” she said.
Only those with the right address — in the buildings that face the park — get a key to the meticulously landscaped Gramercy Park. A sign posted inside forbids music, alcohol, smoking, dogs, feeding of birds, ball playing and Frisbees.
“I’m the enforcer of the rules,” said Ms. Harrison, a retired special education teacher who described her age as “ageless.” She starts each morning at a window table at Maialino, Danny Meyer’s trattoria in the Gramercy Park Hotel.
“When I see someone I know, I run out with my clipboard,” she said.
One change coming to the neighborhood is Gramercy Square, a condominium development on the site of the Cabrini Medical Center, which closed in 2008. The four-building, 223-unit complex runs from East 19th Street to East 20th Street, midway between Second and Third Avenues.
“They’re putting in gardens, so there’s going to be green space all around it,” Ms. Harrison said. “That’s a positive impact.”
Sales at Gramercy Square are expected to start at the end of the year, and the apartments to be ready for occupancy by late summer 2017. Asking prices will start at $1.215 million for a studio, $1.3 million for a one-bedroom, $2.225 million for a two-bedroom and $3.375 million for a three-bedroom, according to the marketing department at Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, which is handling sales.
“We think of Gramercy Park as the four blocks that face the park,” Ms. Harrison said, “but these days everyone’s trying to get a Gramercy Park address.”
What You’ll Find
An air of grandeur pervades Gramercy Park’s historic district, lined with Italianate and Greek Revival facades, some of which date to the 1840s. Its designated blocks are irregular, belting around the park from East 21st Street to East 18th Street and cinching in Irving Place, where the low-rise, ivy-covered mansions have a charm of their own.
By one popular definition, the boundaries of the wider Gramercy neighborhood run from East 14th Street to East 23rd Street and from Park Avenue South to First Avenue.
A 21st-century high-end development is a seven-story, seven-unit condominium at 355 East 19th Street, expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of the summer. A three-bedroom on the third floor is listed at $2.925 million; the penthouse, with a 780-square-foot terrace, is $3.495 million.
133 EAST 15TH STREET, #1C A two-level loft with a sleeping alcove in a prewar co-op, listed at $825,000. CreditSantiago Mejia/The New York Times
What You’ll Pay
In the first quarter of 2016, the median sales price of a co-op in Gramercy was $666,500, down 2 percent from the first quarter of 2015, according to Gregory J. Heym, the chief economist for Terra Holdings. The median price of a condo, however, rose 38 percent to $2.13 million.
On June 22 a search on StreetEasy.com found 104 properties for sale, ranging from $409,000 for a small studio co-op a half-block from Gramercy Park to a two-bedroom condo on Gramercy Park West for $2.5 million.
As for rentals, Guy Goldman, a founder of Loftey, a real estate start-up based nearby, said the park “adds a bto the market.” A small one-bedroom that included a key to the park recently rented for “an astronomical” $6,500 per month, he said. More typical rentals in the neighborhood were studios ranging from $2,500 to $3,500; one-bedrooms for $3,500 to $5,000; two-bedrooms for $5,000 to $7,000; and three-bedrooms for $6,000 to $9,000.
What to Do
Nonmembers are admitted to some events at the National Arts Club at 15 Gramercy Park South. An online calendar lists art exhibitions, performances and lectures.
The Gramercy Theater, at 127 East 23rd Street, and Irving Plaza, at 17 Irving Place, showcase mostly rock and hip-hop artists. The Vineyard Theater, at 108 East 15th Street, is an Off Broadway nonprofit company dedicated to taking risks with new plays and musicals.
4 LEXINGTON AVENUE, #ML A one-bedroom co-op with full-time doormen, listed at $519,999. CreditSantiago Mejia/The New York Times
Those without a key to the gated Gramercy Park can amble over to shady, egalitarian Stuyvesant Square or to Union Square, where the Greenmarket is open year-round on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Elementary school students are zoned for Public School 40 Augustus Saint-Gaudens, at 319 East 19th Street (main entrance on 20th Street), which serves about 630 students from prekindergarten through Grade 5. According to the city’s School Quality Snapshot, 73 percent of students met state standards in English in 2014-2015, versus 30 percent citywide; 81 percent did so in math, versus 39 percent.
Middle School 104 Simon Baruch at 330 East 21st Street serves Grades 6 to 8 and has an enrollment of about 1,120 students. Last year 53 percent met state standards in English versus 30 percent citywide; 61 percent met math standards versus 31 percent.
Admission is by application and interview at School of the Future at 127 East 22nd Street, serving about 730 students from Grades 6 to 12. For the middle school, priority is given to those who live in District 2, including Gramercy. Last year 53 percent met state standards in English and 61 percent in math. There is citywide competition for the high school. Average SAT scores for the class of 2015 were 533 in reading, 534 in math and 522 in writing; citywide averages were 444, 466 and 439.
Midtown Manhattan is about 10 minutes away via the 6 train stop at 23rd Street and Park Avenue South. At Union Square, options include the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q and R. The L runs along 14th Street. Buses serving the area include the M1, M2, M3, M101, M102, M103 and M15 running north and south and the M14A, M14D and M23 traveling crosstown.
On Gramercy Park South is the Players, a clubhouse for actors and art patrons founded in 1888 by the celebrated actor Edwin Booth. After Booth’s brother John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865, he retired from the stage for around nine months, said Alfred Pommer, an author of “Exploring Gramercy Park and Union Square” (Arcadia Publishing, 2015). “Then he wrote a public letter of apology and went back to being as popular as ever.” In Gramercy Park, a statue of the actor depicts him as a brooding Hamlet.
From the “Le Palais Bulles” in the South of France, to a $350 million penthouse in Monaco, to a $250 million spread at 220 Central Park South, the are more properties listed above the $100 million mark than ever before. And that poses a problem.
A record 27 properties with nine-figure prices are officially for sale, according to Christie’s International Real Estate. Last year, there were 19 homes with similar asking prices and about a dozen in 2014. And according to the New York Times, if you added “whisper listings,” the actual number of nine-figure listings worldwide could top 50.
“When you have a record number of homes for sale at a price point of $100 million or more, that tells you these homes aren’t selling,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., told the Times. “It’s not as deep a market as some might hope.”
According to Christie’s, only two homes sold for over $100 million last year: a 9,455-square-foot house in Hong Kong purchased for $193 million by Jack Ma, the chief of Alibaba, and a $132 million townhouse in London. Two other nine-figure listings sold last year (a $700 million Texas ranch and a $100 million home in Dallas), but the actual sale prices were not disclosed.
To many, this looks like a bubble that could soon burst. But many in the industry remain hopeful.
“I don’t think it’s a sign of a bubble,” Dan Conn, chief executive of Christie’s International Real Estate, told the Times. “It’s a sign of growing wealth in the world and the quality of some of the new construction.”
Still, even below the $100 million price mark, the market for luxury homes is on the decline, according to a Real Deal analysis. Luxury sales volume is down a stomach-churning 25 percent in the first 20 weeks of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Just 449 contracts at or above $4 million were signed so far this year, compared to 597 in the first 20 weeks of 2015, and 552 in 2014. [NYT] –Christopher Cameron
Uptown on Thursday morning, one major museum owned up to serious financial problems. Farther downtown on Thursday afternoon, another celebrated serious financial progress.
The bad news at the Metropolitan Museum of Art — ballooning deficits, possible staff cuts and a hold on the planning of a new wing dedicated to Modern and contemporary art — stood in sharp contrast to the jubilant word from the Museum of Modern Art that the entertainment mogul David Geffen had donated $100 million toward an expansion and renovation.
But both developments spoke volumes about the current state of the art world, where Modern and contemporary art dominate the action these days — in auction houses and galleries, as well as museums. Everyone wants in, including a revered institution like the Met, which is striving to play catch-up even as it is struggling to pay the bills.
“The audience for contemporary art has grown exponentially in the last decade,” said Tom Eccles, the executive director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard, adding that the sector’s attendant money and glamour make it “a honey pot” and “the Hollywood” of the art world.
The Met has stiff competition in the Modern and contemporary realm, especially at home. MoMA is expanding and renovating; the Whitney last year opened a widely acclaimed new home downtown; the Guggenheim has multiplied around the world and the New Museum has helped lead an art surge in Lower Manhattan. In addition, the new Broad Museum in Los Angeles is drawing lines around the block since it opened last fall and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is about to open its new building next month.
The Met has been notoriously weak in Modern and contemporary art — the art critic Holland Cotter of The New York Times once called the collection “an institutional embarrassment” — and is seen as falling short of its encyclopedic mandate, in part because its longtime former director Philippe de Montebello was wary of following trends.
His successor, Thomas P. Campbell, has made improving that area a priority, which led him to take on the Breuer building, the Whitney’s former home. “It’s a significant commitment,” he said, “but we believe it’s an important one for the programmatic health of this institution.”
The Met’s current restructuring suggests that this emphasis may have contributed to the institution’s current shortfall, which the museum says is due largely to a decline in admissions and retail revenue and an $8.5 million annual debt service on $250 million in bonds issued for infrastructure work to the main building and the Cloisters. The museum has also significantly increased its digital staff.
But the focus on building its Modern and contemporary capacity has also siphoned energy and resources away from the Met’s Fifth Avenue flagship. The museum has had to be concerned with fund-raising for Met Breuer, to cover that location’s $17 million annual operating expenses over the course of an eight-year lease as well as an estimated $15 million renovation of the building. The Met has also rebranded its entire operation at a cost of about $3 million and trained 110 staff members at the Breuer, including some new employees.
In addition, the Met has spent an undisclosed amount on the redesign of its Modern and contemporary galleries on Fifth Avenue, which calls for demolishing the existing Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in the museum’s southwest corner, increasing exhibition space and doubling the size of the Roof Garden.
The Met, which has a budget of $300 million and has carried modest shortfalls for years, is now facing a $10 million deficit.
“If we do nothing — if we just carry on — 18 months from now, at the beginning of fiscal year 2018, the deficit would be four times bigger,” said Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president. “That’s not O.K., so we’re going to take action to control that.”
The museum will undergo a 24-month financial overhaul that it said was likely to include staff reductions, reduced programming and a concerted effort to increase revenue in its restaurants and retail operations.
“We’ve had increasing pressure on the budget and knew that we were going to have to take actions to get it back in balance,” Mr. Campbell said.
The museum said it would also suspend the design work on the new wing until money had been raised for the project.
The southwest corner of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It faces a $10 million deficit and says staff reductions are likely. CreditBenjamin Norman for The New York Times
Since salaries account for 70 percent of the Met’s expenses, Mr. Weiss said the museum would reduce its head count “by dozens” over the next 12 months. The Met will also freeze hiring and request voluntary buyouts, after which it may resort to layoffs.
Will the Met have to give up on its Modern and contemporary aspirations and settle for sticking to its core skill set? Can it hope to raise money for the new wing when the project is in limbo and the museum is in the middle of cutting staff?
“In a perfect world, these two events wouldn’t be coinciding,” Mr. Weiss said. “But we’ll get through these challenges.”
Meanwhile, MoMA is capitalizing on its strengths, having attracted the largess of Mr. Geffen, a leading art collector with an estimated worth of $6.8 billion, who has long supported the museum with art donations (most recently, a Mark Grotjahn sculpture) and loans (as he did for a 1996 Jasper Johns retrospective).
“When I worked in the mailroom at the William Morris agency I used to brown bag it at the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art,” he said. “It’s where I developed my interest in post-World War II art.”
Mr. Geffen’s donation will go toward MoMA’s fund-raising campaign, which includes $440 million for new construction and renovation.
“These are the kind of gifts you only dream about,” said Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA’s director.
MoMA will feature a David Geffen Wing: three floors of new galleries in a residential tower designed by Jean Nouvel to the west of the museum on West 53rd Street, currently under construction. And sometime this spring, the museum’s existing fourth-floor exhibition space will be called the David Geffen Galleries.
That means Mr. Geffen’s name will now adorn another major New York arts building in perpetuity, as it does the former Avery Fisher Hall, which received a $100 million gift from him a year ago (and which generated concerns because it covered only a fifth of the projected renovation cost in exchange for perpetual naming rights).
The gift was discussed over the past six months, Mr. Lowry said, and was helped along by Mr. Geffen’s friendship with MoMA’s president, Marie-Josée Kravis.
Mr. Geffen, a California resident who established the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, dismissed the idea that he was shifting his philanthropy from one coast to another. “I spend time in both California and New York,” he said, “and I have a great affection for both places.”
MoMA has raised $650 million, including Mr. Geffen’s gift, which is unrestricted, meaning it can be directed at the museum’s discretion. “Through David’s generosity,” Mr. Lowry said, “we’re in incredible shape.”
In addition, MoMA continues to raise funds to increase its endowment and to cover operations during construction, when revenue is expected to decline because some galleries will be closed.
The expansion and renovation, designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, will add 50,000 square feet of galleries, giving the museum more space to present its collection and exhibitions and allowing it to improve circulation, particularly in the museum’s congested entrance.
Mr. Geffen has also donated to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Spelman and Morehouse College arts education programs; the University of California at Los Angeles School of Theater, Film and Television; the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts; and the Geffen Playhouse.
In 2013, he contributed to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the creation of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. His total philanthropic support to U.C.L.A. exceeds $400 million.
Mr. Geffen, who has no dependents, will ultimately leave his art collection, valued at more than $2 billion, to his foundation, which will give the pieces to institutions or sell them and donate the proceeds to his main causes: culture, medicine and education.
As for future substantial donations, Mr. Geffen suggested there may be more in store. “I intend to give away as much of my money as possible while I’m alive to things that I think are valuable,” he said. “So far, it’s a considerable amount of money.”
Correction: April 22, 2016
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to a gift to the former Avery Fisher Hall by David Geffen last year. Though it was for $100 million, it was not Mr. Geffen’s last donation in that amount. He later gave $100 million to U.C.L.A. to build a middle school and a high school on its campus.
Until recently, if you were looking to buy a condominium with high ceilings, your choice was limited to prewar apartments, lofts or penthouse units. Now several developers are offering new condo projects that have soaring ceilings in more than half the building, giving buyers the option of taking a unit on a lower floor with ceilings 11 feet or higher.
Unlike a kitchen that you can renovate to your liking, a ceiling can’t be pushed higher once the building is constructed, he said. The 60-story condominium at 56 Leonard incorporates ceiling heights of 11 to 19 feet in each of its 145 units.
“You can’t fake the sense of space, air and light without high ceilings,” Mr. Senbahar said.
Higher ceilings generally translate into higher construction costs, but some developers feel the money is well spent, since high ceilings can help create grander spaces. The extra height can set a development apart from the pack and be a helpful marketing tool as the city’s high-end real estate market begins to soften.
On a national level, most buyers of a standard home prefer nine-foot ceilings on the first floor, according to a 2015 survey conducted by theNational Association of Home Builders. In New York City, while prewar buildings tended toward nine-foot ceilings, most postwar buildings were built with eight-foot ceilings because it was more affordable to do so, according to Richard Lambeck, clinical associate professor and chairman of the construction management graduate program at the New York University School of Professional Studies Schack Institute of Real Estate. Apartments were compact, which also coincided with the availability of portable air-conditioning units, he said.
“With high ceilings, developers can lose an entire floor and, at the same time, add another 15 percent to their construction costs,” Mr. Lambeck said.
The need to use multiple sheetrock panels for the walls, add more bolts, and order customized doors and windows all add to the cost of the final product. Increasing the ceiling height from eight to nine feet adds an extra $4,000 to the cost of an average home, according to the home builders’ survey.
Arthur W. Zeckendorf, a principal of Zeckendorf Development, estimated that placing 11-foot ceilings in the 33 units at 520 Park Avenue was adding an extra 10 percent to his building costs, and adding 10 percent more time to the construction schedule for the 54-story structure.
Nicholas Werner, a founder of Largo Investments, one of the developers of the Fitzroy in Chelsea, where all the rooms will have 11-foot ceilings, said, “There’s no need to build a room that’s an echo chamber, but we wanted to build a home that seemed gracious and proportionate.”
Technological advancement in building materials has also made it easier for developers to expand in volume, Mr. Werner said. For example, residences at the Fitzroy will have hydronic radiant floor heating, and not just in the bathroom, where it is customarily found, to better heat the entire home, since warm air rises. Larger windows that were selected in proportion to the higher ceilings add more natural light, which cuts electricity costs, he said.
Vickey Barron, an associate broker at Douglas Elliman, said she started to notice clients’ asking about ceiling heights about five years ago. “I now have clients who will give up having a pool or other amenities in a building, but will not budge on ceiling height,” she said. “Buying a home is an emotional thing, and that ‘wow’ factor a high ceiling provides is something you can’t replace.”
Lori Goldstein, a fashion stylist and creator of the LOGO clothing line, is one such buyer. After living in a Chelsea loft for almost 15 years, she is set to close on an apartment at 10 Sullivan Street, a new condo complex on the southwestern edge of SoHo that has ceiling heights of 11 feet in all 22 units in the tower. In addition, four townhouses in the complex have 11.7-foot ceilings.
“I can’t stand being claustrophobic,” Ms. Goldstein said. “There’s something about a room that’s taller than it is wider.”
To show potential buyers how one feels in an expansive room, some developers have taken the extra step of finding a showroom large enough to build an exact replica of a room with such height — no small task in itself.
Joseph A. McMillan Jr., the chief executive of DDG, one of the developers behind a new condo building at 180 East 88th Street, said he looked at 30 to 40 commercial spaces before finding one on Third Avenue and East 64th Street where he could build a room with 14-foot ceilings.
“It’s impossible to explain” the impact of ceiling height, he said. “You have to experience it.”
It took the developers behind 20 East End Avenue, where units will have 11-foot ceilings, about a year to find a commercial space for their showroom, according to Nicole Siciliano-Trazzera, the sales director at the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, who is marketing the new building. “It’s been the best sales tool,” she said. “The reaction is utter amazement.”
Homes with large rooms and high ceilings are often sought by buyers with art collections. Every livable room at 180 East 88th Street will come with art rails that hang a few feet below the ceiling. Not only are the rails convenient for hanging art, but they also help bring one’s sight line just a bit lower, making you feel more grounded in a room that is extra tall, Mr. McMillan said.
And sometimes it’s all about the view. When designing the Gibraltar, a new six-story condo building going up at 160 West Street in Greenpoint,Brooklyn, the architect Joseph Eisner said he wanted future residents to enjoy the views of Manhattan and the East River from the living room, which will have 11.3-foot ceilings.
“I didn’t consider lower ceiling heights, because I wanted the cleanest, freest feel,” so common areas feel larger than they are, Mr. Eisner said.
How to incorporate a sense of space in home design has always been part of the discussion for architecture students, said James Garrison, an architect and adjunct associate professor at the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture. “Sure, you can have bragging rights when you have high ceilings, but people can really feel space,” he said. “And the way you design a room with height can bring a hierarchy to how certain rooms are utilized.”
Ashwin Y. Verma, a founder of Siras Development, which is building theSoori High Line on West 29th Street, where about 80 percent of the 31 condos will have 13- to 18-foot ceilings, says new condo construction will incorporate higher ceilings from here on.
“I think the market is moving toward” measuring rooms in cubic feet, he said. “As a developer, the New York market is one of the few places where you can change the story on architecture like this and still get rewarded.”
Correction: March 25, 2016
An earlier version of this article included a picture caption that misstated the location of a showroom. It is for 56 Leonard, not 180 East 88th Street.
The couple, who plan to marry next winter, later moved to a three-bedroom rental in a house in Bay Terrace, Queens, which they shared with Ms. Bucolo’s younger sister, dividing the monthly rent of $2,100 evenly among the three of them.
Ms. Bucolo, who is now 29 and has been a hairdresser since her teens, took the Long Island Rail Road to her job in product development at Bumble andBumble in the meatpacking district, while Mr. Denis, now 30, drove toMercy College in the Bronx, where he was working toward a graduate degree in physician assistant studies.
But once he began working as a physician assistant in the neurosurgical care unit at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., on Long Island, Ms. Bucolo said, “We wanted to treat ourselves and fill that craving of being in the city.” Knowing that they would eventually settle on Long Island, they wanted to have “that New York City lifestyle,” she said, while they could. Besides, she was tired of commuting, which she had done since she transferred to New York University: “I would rather walk anywhere than take a subway or a cab.”
So in the fall, all three prepared to move — Ms. Bucolo’s sister to live with a friend on the Upper East Side, and Ms. Bucolo and Mr. Denis to their own Manhattan apartment.
Their budget was $3,000 to $3,500, and to keep costs reasonable, they didn’t mind downsizing to a studio, as long as the building had plenty of amenities. “The city is not a place where you are staying in your apartment all the time,” Ms. Bucolo said. “I know friends who are paying $1,900 for a one-bedroom that might as well be a studio.”
She found a listing for a one-bedroom near the Queensboro Bridge. She wouldn’t be able to walk to work, but Mr. Denis could easily drive to work over the bridge, which requires no toll. When they visited, however, they found an apartment that was tiny and “unlivable,” she said.
Mr. Denis added: “I was second-guessing my agreement to move to the city.”
Ms. Bucolo liked the Caroline, which opened in 2002 in the Flatiron area on West 23rd Street; a friend who used to live there had gushed about the roof deck. Hunting alone while Mr. Denis was studying, Ms. Bucolo contacted Marilyn De Amorim, a saleswoman at Mirador Real Estate with a listing in the building.
Studio prices there were in the low to mid $3,000s. But the only vacant studio was already rented, Ms. De Amorim told her. Ms. Bucolo didn’t want to wait for another vacancy, so Ms. De Amorim took her to a building nearby, True North Flatiron 27 on West 16th Street, which had been remodeled a few years earlier. Prices there were in the high $2,000s to low $3,000s.
Ms. Bucolo found the studio she saw “really new and crisp-looking,” but didn’t like the rectangular layout, which had a kitchen she found obtrusive. “If I am on my bed, I am seeing my kitchen,” she said. “Everything was in one room, and you could see everything.”
She was equally ambivalent about a 1960 building on East 18th Street south of Gramercy Park, where studios were in a similar price range. “This didn’t have the newer finishes she was looking for,” Ms. De Amorim said. “It’s nice to be the first to cook in the kitchen and take a bubble bath in the bathtub.”
So Ms. De Amorim suggested they head north to a new 45-story residential tower with lots of amenities, One Sixty Madison. The building was north of NoMad, at 33rd Street, in a commercial area not far from the Empire State Building. But it was sufficiently close to work for Ms. Bucolo, and she loved the gleaming interior and the amenities, which included indoor and outdoor rooftop lounges.
She visited a furnished model and a few empty studios, returning with Mr. Denis a few days later. “We loved that no one had lived here before,” she said, “because I am such a clean freak and germophobe.”
They walked around the neighborhood to check out the parking situation. Parking right outside was allowed only from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., but that worked well with Mr. Denis’s irregular schedule and 12-hour shifts.
Last fall, the couple moved into a studio of about 500 square feet on one of the lower floors, for which they pay $3,490 a month, with one month free on a 13-month lease. The amenity fee, which includes access to the rooftop, the gym and an elevated park that wraps around the fourth floor, is $1,000 a year for two.
“We weren’t really concerned about a view,” Ms. Bucolo said. “We have the rooftop.”
The kitchen is separate from the living space, with its own little hallway. And the ceilings are so high — even in the bathroom — that they require an extra-long shower curtain.
Now Mr. Denis has a drive of around 20 minutes, by way of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, which does have a toll, but “I’m surprised at how easily I’m able to park,” he said.
Ms. Bucolo, who is often laden with bags filled with hair products, groceries and wedding-planning paraphernalia, sometimes uses the rideshare serviceVia to get to work, but walks home when the weather is nice.
They are thrilled to have a washer and dryer in their apartment. Mr. Denis wears scrubs at work, so he has plenty of laundry, and so does Ms. Bucolo: “I cook a lot,” she said, “so I have a lot of dish towels.”
And although Mr. Denis has an earlier schedule than Ms. Bucolo does, he keeps the bathroom door closed and is able to dress in the large closet to avoid waking her.
“We don’t even notice that it is a studio,” she said. “We feel like we are in a hotel room.”