In 1981, President Obama was a Columbia political science undergrad living in a modest apartment where heat and hot water were scarce, and he sometimes fled to an all-night university library to keep warm. According to an ex-girlfriend’s description in “Barack Obama: The Story,” Barack’s bedroom there smelled like “running sweat, Brut spray deodorant, smoking, eating raisins, sleeping, breathing.”
Now Obama’s former abode from his lean year at 142 West 109th Street inMorningside Heights, New Yorkis on the rental market again.
“It’s a charming little apartment,” said sales associate Zak Kneider, who represents the property. “It’s your typical third-floor walkup with a bit of charm that a million other new Yorkers are [living] in.” For the non-city dwellers, “walkup” means the building doesn’t have an elevator.
The residence sounds pretty…collegiate, but the apartment’s new rent cost might seem less so. The two-bedroom, one-bath apartment is listed with Citi Habitats for $2400. When the apartment was last on the market two years ago, the rent was $500 less a month, at $1900.
“I believe it’s fairly priced,” said Kneider. “$1,900 was a little underpriced, and that was two years ago and market was a different place at that point in time. We’re dealing with a completely different rental market. Two years ago, owners would pay [renter] fees, and there were incentives of 1 to 2 months free. That’s nowhere near the case now. The inventory is not there.”
The railroad-style apartment in this pre-war building does have some attributes in its favor other than its presidential pedigree: it has built-in bookshelves, exposed brick walls, high ceilings, large windows, hardwood floors, a marble bath, and the appliances were all updated right before the last time it was listed.
Does an historic apartment like this draw in the looky-loos who have no legitimate interest in renting? You bet it does.
“Everybody under the sun is calling. I do feel horribly for the tenants,” Kneider said. “They’re calling him and trying to come in and he’s going to be moving… one of the most stressful things in life. [When gawkers call about the apartment] he’s saying no, but some people don’t [listen to] the outright no. “