I often go up to Washington Heights, an area where I lived many years ago, just to walk around. On one recent trip, I decided to take a look into the lobby of my old apartment building on Cabrini Boulevard to see if there had been any changes.
When I looked at the buzzers, I was shocked—my former apartment, as I had known it, didn’t even exist anymore! Instead of two separate listings for “A-61” and “A-62,” there was now a single combined listing for “A-61/62.” A look online at a real estate website confirmed it—the combined unit had recently been for sale as a six-room apartment.
There are definitely instances where apartment owners want to enlarge their apartments by combining it with an adjacent apartment. Sometimes the owners are so anxious to do so that they offer to buy out the owner of the next-door apartment. Owners have been known to wait for years and years until their next-door neighbor moves out to get the ball rolling.
It doesn’t have to be next door, by the way—it can be two units on top of each other, stacked into a duplex with stairways connecting the formerly separate floors.
Though the practice of snapping up adjacent units to make vast living spaces may have slowed a bit in the wake of the recession, it's something that's been going on for a long time in the city—albeit not in huge numbers.