Cops by the Sea

They were detectives. I said, How can you build property so small from scratch?

 Location Throgs Neck
Rent $1,500 [market]
Square feet 850 [one-bedroom duplex apartment with balcony in new house]
Occupant Atta Young [salesperson, Hickey Freeman rap music producer]

A lot of cops own houses around here, you said. I went to seven or eight places before I saw this. All are NYPD-related. Nothing but detectives or sergeants around here, every house. My landlord is in the department. Schuylerville is on the way here, where the cop was in the funeral home.

The cop was the one gunned down after he tried to stop a man charged with breaking into the house next to his to steal Valium. The man with him was in A Bronx Tale and some Sopranos episodes. The whole area around the funeral home was a sea of NYPD. I saw the ad for this apartment last summer—just the wording the landlord used—all new. I grew up in Harlem, then the Bronx. My father's a dental technician. My mother's a hostess in the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. I've worked at a number of high-end stores: Armani, Burberry, Versace. It's about people skills. You get to expand on your outlook. A lot of athletes come to Hickey Freeman. In August, when I got this, so many signs were out, so many new houses. I saw one apartment, the smallest rooms I've ever seen in my life. I said, How can an adult live here—maybe a teenager. And it's a duplex.

Atta Young
photo: Cary Conover
Atta Young

Who were the owners? A couple—they were both detectives. I said, How can you build property that small from scratch? Do you really expect to rent these rooms at $1,200?

You're so brave to say that to police detectives. I did it in a nice way. The staircase was so small, barely one person wide. I said, How do you get furniture up the stairs? She said, We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Were the detectives smart, like if they were on a case? Well, they were really serious people. It was a two-unit building. They lived next door. They got to face the water. All the new houses are a million.

There are also a lot of two-story, old, red brick ones, with big plastic snowmen in front. I visited the B. Brown jewelry store near the Westchester Square subway stop. Horseshoe window, Speidel display case with ID bracelets. Where the bookkeeper sits, there's a tray with liquor bottles, Dewar's, with the pourers on top, bowls of hard candy. I guess to celebrate a sale. My favorite restaurant is Tosca with the palm trees outside.

Everybody thinks they're in Florida here. In summers, you really feel like you're on a beachfront. Read any real estate listing, you'll see Country Club Drive. Everyone wants that waterfront.

Laundry was hanging outside the back of a house on Country Club Drive. Zoning is a big issue around here. I read that Throgs Neck was one of the NYC communities recently downzoned to keep the character of the neighborhood. Downzoning is all the rage—more than 40 rezonings have been in process since 2002, city officials say. In the three years before, there were only eight. You said that you're married. Where is your wife? At a friend's house. She had arthroscopic surgery. My cats aren't here either. They have gingivitis. I checked them into the animal hospital. I met my wife when I used to work in the Warner Bros. Studio Store on Fifth Avenue. She and her friend were taking their first trip to America. She's Swiss. I was the first person she met. I'm at the front of the store. She spoke only fluent French. I took six years. I was able to communicate on a decent level. On the last day, her friend sent my wife to ask me if I liked her. I said, I like you. In 1998, we got married. We moved to Parkchester. You know what Stuyvesant Town looks like? You move that to the Bronx. The landscaping was incredible. It was the best deal at the time. It got worse, new people moving in.

Can you see the water from this apartment? The landlords face the water. I face the front. I don't get the water but I get the balcony.

 
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