Asians, Gay, In-House Counsel, Lawyerly Lairs, Money, Pets, Real Estate

Lawyerly Lairs: An In-House Counsel’s Housing Hunt

Julius Towers

Our latest Lawyerly Lairs column is about a gay Filipino lawyer’s hunt for a new home on the island of Manhattan. (No, it’s not about me; I’m quite happy where I am, and I don’t own any dogs.)

Julius Towers, a 36-year-old intellectual property lawyer for Colgate-Palmolive, recently relocated from Queens to Manhattan. His search was complicated by a couple of canines: Felix, a Shiba Inu, and Athena, a golden retriever-poodle cross.

What was Towers’s budget, and where exactly did he wind up?

Towers got featured in Joyce Cohen’s celebrated Sunday Times column, The Hunt. Here’s what he didn’t like about his prior home in Long Island City:

Socially, the neighborhood “lacked the right kind of energy for a single gay guy,” he said. It also lacked green space for his dogs….

On weekends, with the No. 7 train often closed for construction, he felt trapped. His building, though well appointed, well run and with a gym, seemed to him like corporate housing or a high-end dorm.

His budget would be sizable for many buyers, but modest given what he sought:

Online, he found Kay Moon, an agent at Bond New York, and told her he wanted a sunny two-bedroom condominium in a pet-friendly building with a price of $600,000 to $750,000.

Ideally, it would be near Central Park. His move away from there proved that “you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it anymore,” he said.

66 St. Nicholas Avenue

Looking for a two-bedroom condo in Manhattan near Central Park for under $1.5 million? Most folks would say, “Good luck with that.”

Luckily, Julius Towers was versatile: he was willing to head up to Harlem. After a few false starts, here’s his hunt’s happy ending:

A top-floor two-bedroom in [the prewar building at 66 St. Nicholas Avenue was] to his liking, with more sunlight and no upstairs neighbors. It was listed at $549,000. A few other parties were interested, but he decided to go for it.

As negotiations began, Mr. Towers felt lucky that the process had been so smooth. “I felt like I had caught lightning in a bottle,” he said. “If I found something I liked, I wanted to move on it. I didn’t want to look at 100 properties, because you can always find something wrong with every single property.”

Then he learned of the pet policy, which had changed after he signed the contract. He would need to pay pet rent, a total of $250 a month. “That was surprising and disappointing,” he said. Had he known, he would have looked at other buildings in the meantime.

But he eventually worked out a deal with the seller to compensate him for two years’ worth of pet rent. He paid $575,000, with monthly charges of around $700. He arrived in the spring, and set up the second bedroom as an office and library.

Nice. Leave it to a lawyer to come up with a creative solution to a last-minute problem.

It’s an attractive building from the outside, with an unusual triangular shape and a handsome red-brick facade. What does it look like on the inside? Let’s check out Julius Towers’s unit….

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