Over the past 15 years, freelance photographer Simon Russell and his wife, Ann Delilkan, worked hard to make a home out of their small basement-level apartment on MacDougal Street.
When "Men in Black" filmed in their neighborhood, Russell took the leftover shrubs and trees to plant his own garden. And when the couple had children, they put up curtains in the wall-less 850-square-foot room to give the kids their own space.
But the mostly co-op building was about to go condo, and when their landlord told them earlier this year they'd have to cough up $2,250 a month if they wanted to renew their lease, Russell and his wife decided the tiny space was not worth the money. They launched a citywide search, and it ultimately led them to a larger, one-flight walkup apartment for just a slightly higher price in Williamsburg, one of Brooklyn's swankiest destinations.
"When you look for a place, you want that sense of home," Russell said. "It's not just four walls and running water. It has to have a little something; a little edge."
For decades, the northern section of Williamsburg was known as a getaway spot for Manhattan artists who sought large and cheap studio spaces after they were priced out of their neighborhoods. But for the past several years now, the blossoming art scene of Williamsburg has begun to attract more than just artists. Condominium developers realized the area's potential and yuppies fell in love with Bedford Avenue's chic bars and boutiques.