“I don’t plan on dying because I don’t want to give up a rent-controlled apartment.”

January 23rd, 2012

Says an 80-year old man–living in 1,200 square foot rent-controlled apartment in the West Village for five-decades–who pays only $331.76 a month. He says, “I pay so little I’m almost embarrassed.” Embarrassed, but rational.

In New York City, there is no shame in forking over thousands of dollars a month to live in somebody’s basement or crawl space. This unfortunate hiccup in the magic of the city makes the 16,000 remaining rent-controlled units in Manhattan mouthwatering in almost any context.

Cheaper apartments than the ones above the Cherry Lane do exist in the five boroughs, and a few of them even rent for less than three figures. But Mr. Warwick’s apartment, which has four small bedrooms built up around a wide-open living room, isn’t just cheap. It is also a fabulous apartment.

With 11-foot ceilings, exposed brick walls, piles of hardcover books, and views of chimneys and water towers, it is a 1,200-square-foot monument to the Greenwich Village of our fantasies.

His home is nestled on Commerce Street, a windy little road that stood in for Paris on the series finale of “Sex and the City.” A two-bedroom apartment in that area rents for an average of $4,745 per month, according to the brokerage Citi Habitats. And just down the block at 17 Commerce Street, a 2,200-square-foot federal style town house is currently for sale for $4.975 million.

Have I blogged about how I hate rent control?