One-Bedroom Co-op in 1958 White Brick Building


Location East 57th Street

Price $225,000 ($1072 maintenance)

Square feet 800

Occupants Victoria Bevan (industrial designer, cosmetics company); Jae Choi (industrial designer, agricultural vehicles)

Let’s get this straight. You could not afford to buy anything in Williamsburg, so you had to settle for East 57th Street? Tina Brown lives on 57th Street! Sutton Place is a block away—that’s where Uncle Scrooge would live with his money room if he had a New York apartment. Of course this is not a maisonette with a fireplace, but still . . .
[Victoria] In Williamsburg, everything cost half a million, huge 4000-square-foot lofts.

Mr. Minsky at Corcoran Realty said, “The Brooklyn trend is for big space.”

I must have looked at 50 places total, East Village, Lower East Side. There you could find a place for $225,000, but it would be a studio with a plastic wall. I finally found this last spring. My boyfriend, Jae, helps with the cost.

We almost had to have the interview in your boyfriend’s car, because there is only one block where he can park from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., so if he gets home early, he has to sit in his car until six.

[Jae] Yes, well . . . [Victoria] Jae’s from upstate New York. I’m from Norfolk, England. I moved with my parents to L.A. as a teenager because of my father’s job. I can never say where he works. No, he’s not a spy—though my sister and I call him Double-0 Bevan, you know, 007. I came to New York to go to Pratt seven years ago. That’s where Jae and I met. We used to live in Long Island City. That apartment was crumbling. It’s nice to be in a place where part of the wall is not falling down, and to have a 24-hour doorman. [Jae] At first, but then it’s the same guy, same questions. After a while, I just want to go in and out without somebody saying hello. [Victoria] I don’t mind.

You’re sitting side by side on your 1960s cobalt blue Steelcase sofa, surrounded by Eames chairs and looking just like global nomads in Wallpaper magazine! Look at these waist-high windows, low ceilings. A classic white building, so ’60s, early ’70s—the heyday of this neighborhood, so Bloomingdale’s, so Halston toga dresses . . . What are the demographics of the building?
There are not many twentysomethings here, which is what we are.

You have these glittery views and can see that red tram to Roosevelt Island that dangles 250 feet over the river and is always full of tan, middle-aged people holding tennis rackets because there’s a big court over there, plus all those brown brick-and-concrete apartment buildings. So many shops are shuttered on Main Street, a utopia that didn’t quite work. There’s so much to say about Roosevelt Island, but back to your neighborhood—you’re near the Bridgemarket area underneath the Queensboro Bridge with the 19th-century cream-colored tiled vaults, which was a produce market at the turn of the century and in 1973 was going to have an American Cinémathèque designed by I.M. Pei, but no such luck. Anyway, now there’s the Food Emporium . . .

I’m always there . . .

. . . Oysters, perfect apples, miniature shopping carts for children, and it’s next to Terence Conran’s shop with rubber vases and his restaurant for 300 people like all his huge ones in England with big stairs, big portobello mushrooms. Really, why should you live in Williamsburg? By the way, why did you decide to look in this area?

My dad, Double-0 Bevan, was in town in a hotel on 57th. He knew how miserable I was trying to find a place. He said, Let’s look around here. I said, But none of my friends live here and where will I eat and I’ve never gone out in the evening here, and he said, Don’t be ridiculous. He found this. He said, This is a great apartment. He was right. If I ever need to make a decision, he’s the one I call. [Jae] Though we do go to Williamsburg a lot to visit our friends.