Two-Bedroom Loft in Renovated Former Factory with 15 Units


Location DUMBO

Rent $3800 (market)

Square feet 1700

Occupants Lauren Feeney (advertising associate, New York Review of Books); Cameron Hickey (freelance Web designer); Rachael Cole (lead graphic designer,; Genevieve Maull (import/export coordinator, Mondadori Press)

This is a place for millennium swells! Miles of shining floors the color of a palomino horse, and a bidet. Oh to be rich, and wear a $1000 terry-cloth robe, slide over to that stainless-steel refrigerator, pull out a bottle of champagne, and drink the whole thing at once. Of course, it takes four of you to afford all this.

[Lauren] Cameron found it a month ago. He was riding his bike around, and thought DUMBO was too expensive in general, but after seeing 100 other places just as expensive but not as nice, we decided to just fork it up. We found two roommates. Still, it’s shockingly fancy for us.

Lauren, you had a Williamsburg basement where every time it rained, the apartment flooded with water from the toilet. Who else lives in this building?

Three people from Holland who own a fancy furniture store, a couple from Italy. [Cameron] A guy who’s young and independently wealthy and . . .

The oldest tenant, former furniture designer Richard Mauro, said 30 years ago the basement was full of wigs and thousands of toothbrushes because there was a guy who bought up drugstores that went broke. He told me, “On the first floor were the Brigham Extruders, who used to extrude plastic for belts on bags, three wonderful men who had survived a concentration camp together so they formed a family of their own.” Manny Berstein was on the second through fourth floors with his Shades of Beauty, a lampshade factory. Mauro said he’s the only one left from the building’s early days. But he said he’s not lonely: “Are you kidding? I’m living in the lap of luxury with a million-dollar loft.” He and six other tenants bought the building and renovated it a year ago. He’s also a real estate broker now. You’re right next to the Manhattan Bridge, that 135-foot-high, looming brick giant, so out of human scale.

[Genevieve] It’s so sinister.

Everything is big in DUMBO. Even the name is a big elephant. The olives in that bowl are huge, too. Just an aside—we’re sitting around this table with wooden napkin rings shaped like avocado slices and there’s ravioli and vodka and Genevieve is serving green salad. Genevieve is from San Francisco, and why is it that everybody from San Francisco is always attractive and always believes in quality of life and always takes extra time to make coffee? Then they put the coffee in a beautiful cup. Then they write a poem. Anyway, Lauren grew up in a slightly Tudor Philadelphia suburban house, Cameron was raised in the back of a Chicago costume shop—big Pooh heads and gladiator outfits—and Rachael came from a small mill town in North Carolina. Are you all overcome by the space in this loft?

[Genevieve] When people are here, the space sucks them in and you really don’t feel their presence. [Cameron] I don’t know how I feel. Look at the windows in the building across the way. It’s where they keep all the voting machines in Brooklyn. I’m here all day working at home, I see these things. [Genevieve] We all have different roles. Lauren and Cameron are like the parents of the household. [Cameron] Lauren and I do have the master bedroom. Rachael does have a number of toys. Genevieve has a Babar doll. [Lauren] Like, Cameron doesn’t play computer games all the time. [Genevieve] Cameron is the best househusband on the planet. [Cameron] We had a big party. On Sunday morning I said, Go have brunch while I clean. You’re getting in my way.

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