Housing trends in the United States go through ebbs and flows, but the enduring draw of the historic brownstone or rowhouse seems to be omnipresent. Pre-war housing stock in and around New York City has made a big comeback in recent years, with many properties getting loving restorations fit for the 21st century.
Neighborhoods featuring this type of housing can seem plentiful, but where should a renter interested in the trusty brownstone settle? Our latest property comparison takes us first to Harlem and then to Jersey City’s Van Vorst section to see where the best deal can be had for their needs.
Our first listing is at Manhattan’s 29 Mount Morris Park West, which lies in the middle of a block of brownstones in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park neighborhood. A triplex featuring original mahogany double doors complemented by 12-foot ceilings with original moldings and woodwork, this 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom property was built in 1909.
Historic details of the property include original oak hardwood flooring, five immaculate yet intricately detailed fireplaces, and double-height windows complete with original shutters. The 3,000-square foot property is just steps from Marcus Garvey Park across the street, and Central Park’s northern entrance is 13 blocks south. The net rent at 29 Morris is $14,000/month, or about $56/square foot.
Transit-wise, the 2, 3 or 4, 5, 6 trains are both within easy walking distance and get you to World Trade Center in just over half an hour. A Whole Foods on 125th and Lenox Avenue is nearby, and that thoroughfare along with Malcolm X Boulevard provides the area with a mix of shopping that includes large stores like Staples, Marshalls, and an upcoming Bed Bath & Beyond. Local restaurants like Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, Sylvia’s, and Harlem Shake are also nearby.
Over in Jersey City, we find 1 Hampton Court in Downtown’s Van Vorst Park neighborhood. This corner lot property, which features windows on multiple sides for great natural light, was constructed in 1880, sports 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, totaling 3,015-square feet.
Painstakingly restored by Dixon Projects, historic details at Hampton Court include iron roof cresting and pinnacles, two Oriel windows, an elaborate cornice, three mansard roofs, and beautifully replicated historic tile work on the property’s roof gables. Hardwood floors highlight sleek stone mantels and one-of-a-kind built-in bar cabinetry, while a floor-through master suite at the home’s apex features a wall of oversized windows and a massive skylight.
Unlike 29 Morris, the Hampton Court property has a full backyard to enjoy (although a garden-level apartment with outdoor space can be rented at the former property for an extra cost). The net rent at the Jersey City property is $8,360/month, or about $33/square foot.
1 Hampton Court is just two blocks from Van Vorst Park and the same distance to the Grove Street PATH station, where trains get commuters to the World Trade Center in a 7-minute ride. Both Newark Avenue and Grove Street, two retail and restaurant corridors, are easily accessible by foot from the property and feature attractions like Barcade and eateries that include Talde from Top Chef’s Dave Talde.
Both properties in our comparison are similar in space and many factors go into picking a home, but the Van Vorst Park property is more than $20/square foot cheaper. Coupled with a shorter commute if you’re heading to Lower Manhattan, it represents an attractive option for those who want to explore life west of the Hudson.
With varying amenities and designs, both homes are stunning in their own right. Furthermore, proving more or less equivalent in size and bed/bath count, the final selling point for these homes is their location. Whether or not the lure of Harlem is enough to pay almost 67% more is a question only you can answer. Which would you choose?