On a warm and misty morning last week, the Observer met Dave Maundrell, president and founder of Apartments and Lofts (aptsandlofts.com), at 139 North 10th Street in Williamsburg for a tour of the Printhouse Lofts building, whose leasing and marketing Mr. Maundrell is managing. Built in the early 1900s, the stately brick edifice was used over the years by a printing company (get it?) and a toy factory, and has lately been converted by Greystone to 36 luxury apartments. Greystone acquired the property last year for $15.8 million, following a brief game of hot potato among parties unwilling or financially unable to oversee the overhaul themselves. Dressed in a dark blazer over an untucked pink button-down, Mr. Maundrell was in a relaxed and buoyant mood; the product, he felt quite sure, would practically move itself. (Tom Ryan, senior head of operations at Greystone, was also on hand; if the building inspired trepidation in its previous stewards, he did not appear to have inherited it.)
We moved past an antique printing press, heavy and washed tastefully in rust, that had been installed in the lobby’s concrete floor, and up via elevator to the model unit, a “1.5 bedroom,” the like of which will be offered for $3,575 a month. (Within three hours of a recent email blast, Mr. Maundrell said that he’d compiled a list of 100 prospective renters and brokers interested in the building, and he expects prices to rise swiftly; showings will begin in the next two weeks.) As in many other recent industrial conversions, “authenticity” at the Printhouse Lofts has been commodified. “The kind of people who want to be in this area, more and more, they like the loft conversions, something that has a little more soul,” Mr. Maundrell said. “Always, we want to have nice kitchens and bathrooms, but other than that, you really want to let the bones speak for themselves.”
Ceilings throughout the buildings are pitched, 12- to 14-feet high, and unfinished—or at least cleverly finished—with original timber beams exposed. Clean white trim accents dark brick walls to attractive effect, and many of the building’s oversize windows sport weathered planks for sills. Floors are oak and kitchen cabinets dark walnut, counter tops waterfall “White Blizzard” Ceasarstone. In the model unit, a tortoise shell perched strangely atop the high-end range, a decorative flourish neither Mr. Maundrell nor Mr. Ryan could quite explain. The old Suzuki motorcycle positioned jauntily in one corner seemed likewise unlikely to see much use, but does not today’s “authenticity” very often rely on the fetishized accoutrement of hardier lives? (Highly-buffed stainless steel “farmhouse style” kitchen sinks with coil spring faucets share this mode in that, with perhaps a splash of bovine blood, they would not look out of place in a meat packing facility. How industrial!)
The alcove where the aforementioned “hog” was positioned constitutes the apartment’s half-bedroom, a space that might be used as an office or, in this day and age, an infant’s sleeping quarters. The building’s most basic one-bedrooms will start at $2,525 a month and listing prices top out for now at $6,188 for a three-bedroom on the fourth floor. There are, however, a pair of duplex units on the first and second floors featuring solaria and private, fenced outdoor space, which we imagine will be alluring—and pricey—indeed.
Fog obscured our view from the finished roof deck, an expansive space available to all tenants, but we were assured of vistas taking in the World Trade Center and Gramercy Park profiles. Mr. Maundrell pointed into the near distance, to the very-much-visible and glassy form of 101 Bedford—a self-consciously Manhattan-style luxury rental building. (Its ill-conceived advertising bore the tagline: Toto…I have a feeling we’re not in Brooklyn anymore.) Lacking that building’s golf simulator, wine cellar, library and screening room, the Printhouse, Mr. Maundrell predicted, would nonetheless soon be enjoying greater popularity and—and, one assumes, rents.
Amenities, it seems, are out. “Soul” is in.