Welcome to the latest installment of our ongoing interview series, Meet the Neighbors! Barbara Godson has been working in city real estate for decades since coming to New York even longer ago from the United Kingdom. A doyen downtown, Godson knows every building inside and out, as well as all the streets she traverses daily on her bike.
Where do you live?
I live in the Village in a two-bedroom corner apartment on the 31st floor of the Georgetown Plaza (60 East 8th Street) Although the Georgetown Plaza is a postwar building, it has nine-foot ceilings and we have the most incredible sweeping Western views: I never tire of watching the dramatic sunsets or the boats sailing past. When we bought the apartment it had only one bathroom and we knew our 41 year marriage would not survive that! We demolished the existing bathroom and sacrificed the tub and a closet (which we added elsewhere) to build a new bathroom and add a powder room.
How is work these days? What is your latest deal?
Because I have been a broker for almost 30 years I am always busy. Not as busy as I was when the market was on fire, but I wouldn’t want to work at that intensity level permanently. I have just closed on a townhouse in the West Village and am about to close on another, also in the West Village.
What was the best meal you’ve ever eaten in New York?
The best meal I ever ate was at David Bouley’s restaurant at 165 Duane Street. The restaurant has been closed for many years (it is now an Italian restaurant) but I have never forgotten the meal. We ordered the tasting menu and each dish was tastier than the last. As we sat savoring the deliciousness, we could hear all the diners ooh-ing and aah-ing as they ate.
What was your first apartment like?
I am English and grew up in a seaside town, Westcliff-on-Sea, about 35 miles from London. My first apartment was in London — in Notting Hill Gate. But this was before Notting Hill was trendy. In those days it was quite hairy. The rent was 12 pounds a month, about $24. We’re talking a long time ago!
What is your recession war story?
I don’t have a recession war story. I was very lucky. However like most brokers during the recession, I kept the wolf from the door by doing rentals. Since the renters I was working with were referrals they were loyal — not the norm unfortunately — and I got to see many rental buildings that I didn’t know.
How do you get around town?
I go everywhere on my bicycle. I have an oversized basket so I never suffer from aching shoulders.
What is your favorite building in the city?
My favorite building is the Jean Nouvel condo at 100 Eleventh Avenue. I recently sold a large unit in the building and was blown away by the views. You feel you are almost hanging over the Hudson. What is so very special about the building is that Jean Nouvel planned the windows to frame the buildings that it looks onto. So the windows are different shapes and sizes — always at right angles thank goodness. It sounds weird but it totally works and is really dramatic.
If you weren’t a broker, what would you be?
If I wasn’t a broker I would be a filmmaker. Before I came to the United States, I worked for 10 years as a freelance film editor at Shepperton Studios. I am currently writing a script (who isn’t?) and one day I would like to make it into a film.
What is your dream home?
My dream home is a house on the ocean. I don’t like swimming pools and I am learning to surf. The only caveat is that it must also have a private tennis court and be within two hours of Manhattan.
You just won the lottery. What store do you stop by and what do you buy?
I would take myself to the fanciest sports shop and buy the latest ski equipment and a really snazzy ski outfit — maybe even two! My current ski boots are twenty years old, but so comfortable, and I look like a refugee from the Salvation Army on the ski slopes since I hesitate to spring for expensive ski wear as we ski only about four or five times a year.
If there was one thing you could change about New York, what would it be?
If you had asked me that a few years ago, I would have answered more bike lanes. But the bikes lanes are amazing in New York — you can now cycle around the entire island of Manhattan. I would ask for a tennis court to be built either in Washington Square or Union Square.