New York Observer

Labors of Love

By: Blair Golson
Published: 2/12/2003Source: New York Observer

Brooklyn Heights

31 Pineapple Street
Three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse.
Asking: $1.695 million.
Selling: $1.6 million.
Taxes: $7,003.
Time on the market: five months.


Corcoran broker Ann Doyle was in labor pains with her first baby when she got a call from some clients. Would it be a crazy idea, they wanted to know, for them to move into an investment property instead of selling it? "It was a bit of a shock," said Ms. Doyle. "But being in labor at the time, I said-between contractions-`Whatever works for you is fine with me.'" Ms. Doyle then dispensed with her fiduciary responsibilities and turned her attention to her maternal responsibilities-giving birth to a son, Jack, a few hours later. Meanwhile, her clients had some adjustments of their own to make. They're a married couple: He's a history professor at the City University of New York who has written books on the American Civil War, and she does nonprofit work from home and in Chicago. At the time, they were living in a two-story carriage house that the Brooklyn Fire Department had erected as a stable in the 1880's to house their horse-drawn fleet. The couple was also renovating another townhouse in the neighborhood. It was supposed to be an investment, but when the history professor's wife saw how well the renovation was going, they decided to trade up. "When you look at a wreck, you can be overwhelmed and not see the possibilities," said Ms. Doyle. "But as the house was coming together, the wife really fell in love with it." So the couple put their carriage house-instead of the investment property-on the market. A few months later, Corcoran broker Deborah Rieders came on the scene with an interested couple. They're both artists: He paints industrial landscapes and builds custom-made cabinets; she's also a painter, doing graduate studies at CUNY. They'd been living in a one-bedroom near Union Square-good location, but not enough space for a truly artistic lifestyle. "The wife used to work out of her closet," said Ms. Rieders. "Now she has this beautiful large room with half-moon-shaped windows right over the old stable door."