Featuring Debbie Baum:
Gregory Rittiner headed for New York after his 2014 graduation from Northwestern University, where he studied French literature and vocal performance.
Mr. Rittiner, who is 28 and originally from New Orleans, moved to a Murray Hill high-rise with a friend, sharing a converted one-bedroom in which the dining room served as a second bedroom. He signed with a modeling agency and taught French.
But the neighborhood felt too corporate. “There were people going to their job and then coming right back and shutting their door — slam, click,” he said. “It wasn’t my vibe.”
After his roommate left to get married, the gregarious Mr. Rittiner, craving a career with a flexible schedule that allowed for travel, landed a job as a flight attendant. He put his stuff in storage, left for training in Atlanta and, a year and a half ago, returned to New York, where his base was John F. Kennedy International Airport.
As a fluent French speaker, he became a “language of destination” flight attendant, flying primarily to and from Paris, Nice, Brussels and Dakar, Senegal.
When he came back to New York, Mr. Rittiner moved into a dorm-style crash pad in Kew Gardens, Queens, a neighborhood known to airline personnel as Crew Gardens, for its proximity to J.F.K. and La Guardia airports.
“I lived with flight attendants and pilots of all different airlines,” he said. “People were always coming and going. There were eight bunks in one room. It was cheap. I think I paid $200 a month.”
But he needed his own place. For help, he contacted Debbie Baum, an associate broker at the Corcoran Group and the mother of a friend from Northwestern.
Mr. Rittiner thought he would rent, and considered a studio — a little more than $2,000 a month for a little less than 300 square feet — on the Upper West Side, a neighborhood he enjoyed. But his parents, who were eager for an investment and who visit the city often, decided they would rather help him buy a nicer place. So he went in search of a one-bedroom condo in his other favorite area, Lower Manhattan, which had easier access to J.F.K.
With a budget of around $1 million, he hoped to find a place with a sunny, unobstructed view in a doorman building, with a nice common terrace and, ideally, a washer-dryer. His choices, all of which were on the Lower East Side and had 24-hour doormen, included:
150 Rivington Street
A one-bedroom in this glassy new building had floor-to-ceiling windows and a little less than 550 square feet.
The asking price was $1.065 million, with monthly charges of around $1,550.
The bedroom had a sliding-glass partition, and the kitchen had a large peninsula.
The building had a gym and a 1,570-square-foot rooftop terrace.
196 Orchard Street
This building, also brand-new, was still a sales office when Mr. Rittiner visited. He was able to examine the floor plans and finishes.
A one-bedroom with around 650 square feet was available for $1.275 million, with monthly charges of around $1,735. An Equinox gym occupied the second and third floors of the building.
The rooftop terrace was huge, with a turf lawn and covered lounging area.
Constructed in 2000, this building had a one-bedroom available on a low floor with a little more than 600 square feet.
The price was almost $1.15 million, with monthly charges of around $1,680.
The unit had a private terrace of around 175 square feet, surrounded by foliage, and the building had a common terrace on the second floor.
His Choice: 196 Orchard Street
Mr. Rittiner found himself drawn to the newest of the new. He liked the building’s exposed concrete and industrial feel. “It was new property — how do you compare?” he said. “It just blew the others away. It was an easy yes.”
The enormous rooftop terrace was great for inviting friends over.
“We were picky with the floor plans,” Ms. Baum said. “We went through all the windows and where they faced.”
Mr. Rittiner chose a relatively low floor with a view that takes in street traffic, high-rises and the bell tower of the Most Holy Redeemer church. “I see the real New York — the old and the new,” he said.
He picked a layout with no kitchen island or peninsula. “Being limited space, it is nice to have the open feel,” he said. His living area has room for a dining table that seats four.
He had no timeline for moving, so he stayed in his crash pad for more than a year while construction was completed. He arrived last winter, decorating the walls with works by New Orleans artists. “That’s what makes me feel at home,” he said.
The creative neighborhood is far more to his liking than his former buttoned-up one. “There’s life on the streets,” he said. “People are living here, not just working. There’s more vibrancy and better restaurants.”
He also enjoys having a building with a staff. “I am very close with the concierges, which is what they are called,” he said. “Living alone, I like to have that interaction. I feel a sense of community.”
With his stacked washer-dryer, it’s easy to wash his uniform. “I come in off the trip and take out my things from my luggage,” he said. “If I have to leave the next day, I have clean clothes.”
His bathroom has a stall shower, but no bathtub, which is one thing he misses. But he stays in a lot of hotels. “I can take baths on layovers,” he said.
Copyright © 2019 The New York Times Company. Reprinted with Permission. Andrea Mohin/The New York Times
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