6sqft’s series “My sqft” checks out the homes of New Yorkers across all the boroughs. Our latest interior adventure brings us to the Long Island City condo of Stephen. Want to see your home featured here? Get in touch!
No, that’s not a typo. Stephen Fox’s home really measures 5,400 square feet. And slightly more than half of that space comes in the form of two terraces–a lower one equipped with a grill and dining area and a huge rooftop area with more room to play and entertain than some city parks. Both spaces boast views of the Manhattan skyline, as well as a front-row seat to the ever-evolving Queens neighborhood of Long Island City.
After first purchasing a unit in the building, a former 19th-century factory, in 2006, Stephen and his wife Julie later snagged a larger apartment. The couple, who both work in finance, then bought the unit next door, combining them to make for an even more palatial home. They now share the light-filled space with their two children, three-year-old Mason and two-year-old Logan. Stephen recently gave 6sqft a tour of his home, shared what it was like to settle down in LIC, and told us how he’s seen the neighborhood change over the last decade.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Long Island originally and my wife Julie is from Philadelphia. We both work in finance, which is how we met. We both love sports. My wife played tennis at Lehigh University and I played soccer at Miami (Ohio) University. We have two little boys Mason (3 yrs old) and Logan (2 yrs old). They are the loves of our lives and we couldn’t be happier to raise them in Long Island City.
How did you end up in Long Island City?
I grew up on Long Island, and I lived in San Francisco for four years and then I moved back to New York. I lived on the Upper East Side for a year. Then I was looking for an apartment and my real estate broker, I owe it all to her. At that point in time, about ‘06, everything was 1,500-square-feet for condos … so I said, “what else do ya got?”
She literally didn’t even tell me the area. She said to take the E train to the stop after 53rd and Lex and get off. I walked across the street and basically put on a hard hat. I bought that weekend. There was nothing here. There was nothing here.
My wife was living on the West Side of Manhattan, in Hell’s Kitchen around 53rd and 8th, andworking in Weehawken at the time, so she could take the ferry. She moved across two rivers, obviously. You could imagine- things happened pretty quickly. We moved in after six months, got engaged after nine months, got married after two years, and had our first and second children.
How did you convince Julie to make the move?
I remember when her lease was expiring. She goes, “so uh… I’m looking.” And she was thinking about buying a place at the time. So she’s like, you know, I could renew. And I’m like, “Oh! Um. Okay?”
She said if I renew, then you’re going to be coming over to my house, I’m not just coming out to Long Island City. So I asked, “Do you want to move in?” And she said yes. We both knew, this is it. So that’s how it really worked. It wasn’t me convincing her.
How did you decide on your building?
I saw the building which was still pre-construction at the time and fell in love with the space–high ceilings, industrial look, proximity to the city, and of course price. I purchased that weekend. Julie and I then purchased a larger unit in the building and were fortunate enough to buy the apartment next door and do a combination which resulted in where we live today.
Can you describe the renovation process? Did you run into any issues?
The process was surprisingly smooth. Our biggest issues were getting the permits from DOB to do work, but overall we loved our decorator/architect, Tom Morbitzer of AM/MOR Architecture and our contractor, Cristian Bredice of Artec Construction. They worked together and helped create our dream home. I would highly recommend both, although I know they’re both extremely busy.
What is your favorite view from the apartment?
Our lower terrace. Having dinner at the table watching the sun go down behind the Manhattan skyline with a bottle of wine. Nothing better and never gets old.
What about when you first moved in?
You could see the Upper East Side on this floor, on the fifth floor you could see up towards the Triboro bridge. Nothing was here. I actually started counting the skyscrapers. You’re talking 20 skyscrapers that have literally just gone up. Every single one of these buildings, there was just dirt lots.
So you’ve seen a lot of growth in the retail and commercial areas.
Out of control. We bought in ‘06 and moved in either ‘06 or ‘07. Then the credit crisis happens. Everything was put on hold. We didn’t even have a pharmacy here. The only grocery store was maybe Key Foods down the street. There was nothing. Court Square Diner. That was it.
So the fact, there was no one. When I say no one… you get out of the subway. No one. Even during the day, it was dead. And now weekends is where you really see it. Here, it was a little bit confusing because, during the day, you have Citi Bank.
But now you see on the weekends, these people aren’t working, these are all residents. You’ve always had MoMA PS1. So the view, if you look directly south at the second tower from the 5Pointz building that went down, those are the two that went up. This left one was a direct shot at the World Trade Center.
What’s ironic for me is I worked at World Trade Center on September 11th, that was my office. You always were able to come here, have a cup of coffee and look down there. And remember. Now what’s crazy is that these are “twin towers” basically. For me, it’s pretty reminiscent of the twin towers. I actually like it.
Do you have a favorite room?
We love every room, but with two kids under 3, the bedroom to get some quality sleep would probably rank highest on the list.
Aziz Ansari, Clare Danes and Noah Emmerich acting out a scene in Stephen’s apartment (“Master of None” Season 1, Episode 5); Via Netflix
You told us about two TV shows that filmed at your apartment. Can you tell us how that all started and what it is like?
“Master of None,” the Netflix show with Aziz Ansari, and “Elementary,” the CBS show with Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller.
With Silvercup studios and Kaufman studios in the area, they are always looking for film friendly buildings and unique apartments for different scenes. At first, we were nervous to have it take place in our home, but fortunately, both crews were extremely professional and didn’t damage a thing. Very good experiences on both.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in the area?
I would say Levante is number one. Pantry– it’s a very clean place, it’s where you can get a good sandwich. They have breakfast, lunch. Not really a sit-down place, but it’s a laid-back vibe. They’ve got some pretty good sandwiches. I like Maiella on the waterfront, we like that Italian place Il Falco, LIC Market, and Sapps, a sushi place.
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Tags : stephen fox
Neighborhoods : Long Island City