Tour the 19-Bed Crown Heights House That’s Trying to Disrupt Brooklyn’s Rental Market

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Would you pay $1,950 a month to co-live in this Crown Heights townhouse?

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

The space at 1162 Pacific Street  is the first co-living location launched by Common, a Brooklyn-based startup offering month-to-month rentals and an atmosphere of creative community. The brainchild of General Assembly cofounder Brad Hargreaves, Common is to living as General Assembly is to working — it’s a place where renting a bedroom among interesting people is supposed to be as easy as renting a desk in a bustling co-working space.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Common’s partner real estate investors snapped up the Crown Heights building for $4,000,000 in June. Ironically — in hindsight — the listing for 1162 Pacific Street described the four-story townhouse as “anything but common.”After some light renovation work, its first official residents moved in on Sunday. But Hargreaves made sure to beta-test it first.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

“I wouldn’t release a web product without testing it. So we’ve been living here,” Hargreaves told Brownstoner as he gave us a private tour of the space, admitting, “Some of the final work kept me up last night.”

One might imagine a “co-living space” to be something like a hippie commune. Or a hipster SRO. When Brownstoner first wrote about Common’s shared-housing model, more than one Brownstoner commenter were dubious. But the building is surprisingly normal.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Built around the turn of the last century, the four-story multifamily limestone and brick townhouse has 19 bedrooms and a basement living room that used to be storage. Each “suite” — aka each four- or five-bedroom apartment — has a living room, two bathrooms and a kitchen.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

“We gave everyone keycard access to all the suites,” Hargreaves told us, pointing out the electronic reader on the door. “We think of it as 19 people sharing four kitchens, not four people on a floor sharing one.”

Community is the main selling point of Common, and Hargreaves took pains to point out the amenities that would get housemates together: Sunday-night potluck dinners at the basement table, an event series, group vouchers to local eateries.

Residents are paying between $1,800 and $1,950 in rent for their own bedroom and access to shared common areas. The monthly fee also includes everything from utilities, management fees and WiFi to a cleaning service and an unending supply of coffee, tea and toilet paper.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

More than 300 people applied to live in the building. While Hargreaves wouldn’t give any specifics, he told Brownstoner that half of them were new to the city, saying, “We’re onboarding them to Brooklyn.”

The furnishings are a combination of modern and “Hudson Valley Americana” — chosen to make the building feel more like a home and less like an institution. The walls held groupings of framed prints and paintings, the work of local artists.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

The spare, neat bedrooms feel like something you might rent on Airbnb — somewhat anonymous, but comfy looking. The lighting is great. “We found these LED Edison bulbs,” Hargreaves enthused, like a kid showing off a new toy. “They’re energy efficient and warm!”

The home also has a garden and, come spring, a roof deck with views of Manhattan towers peaking out above the Bedford Armory across the street.

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

The Armory runs a controversial homeless shelter nearby but its proximity didn’t deter Hargreaves, who told us: “This is a great neighborhood. The kind of place where people say ‘hi’ to you on the street.”

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Co-Living Startup Common Crown Heights

Common 1162 Pacific Street

Above, the building’s floor plan after it was renovated by Common. The company added three bedrooms. Floors 2-4 are identical, so just the second floor is shown. In case you’re wondering, it’s all perfectly legal. The work was permitted, and Common’s month-to-month agreements are by the apartment, not the room — in compliance with New York City’s housing laws.

[Photos: Barbara Eldredge]

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