10 Questions with the Brownstone Boys

We’re proud to have been featured by our friends at Bed-Stuy Local (www.bedstuylocal.com)! Check out their interview with us below and head over to their site for more!


,The Bed-Stuy Small Business Hustle – “The Brownstone Boys”

Today, we are posting our first small business profile! We plan on doing as many profiles as we can of small businesses in Bed-Stuy. If you know someone who we should profile, or if you would like to be profiled, please do not hesitate to reach out at mike@bedstuylocal.com!

Who are the Brownstone Boys? Tell us about yourselves.

We’re Barry and Jordan aka The Brownstone Boys. Jordan is in marketing for Ample Hills Creamery and a food tour guide. Barry works for a startup software company. We met about 2 years ago. Barry has owned a few apartments over the past few years with the dream of buying and restoring a classic Brownstone. Jordan shared that dream so we decided to take this adventure together.

In one paragraph, describe what it is that you are doing.

We bought a 2 family brownstone in Bedstuy. It has many original details but it’s in need of restoration. We’re excited to make it our home. We are going to restore everything that we can and modernize where we need to. We’ll have a brand new open kitchen, a large master bedroom, completely renovated master bath, a new guest bath, and new parlor level backyard access with a deck.

How did you choose Bed-Stuy?

Barry has lived in Bedstuy for the past few years. It has become his favorite neighborhood that he has lived in. Jordan also fell in love with the architecture of the neighborhood (and Saraghina!)  and ended up spending much of his time in Bedstuy when not at work. We chose Bedstuy because we love the neighborhood, the architecture is beautiful, the community feels welcoming, and it’s still a place you can buy a building in brownstone Brooklyn at a relatively affordable price compared to other neighborhoods.

What do you love about Bed-Stuy?

Aside from the beautiful architecture, we love the sense of the community. It’s rare to have a neighborhood where everyone still says “good morning” to one another as they walk by. We came back to the place this past week and some kind stranger put a holiday bow on every single gate on the street!

Did you have experience in renovations before you started this project?

Barry renovated a 2-bedroom apartment a couple of years ago, but that wasn’t nearly as extensive as this project. Jordan has been involved in several renovation projects at work but never his personal home! So we are definitely not professionals.

How is everything going? How long have you been working on the project?

We’ve only just begun! We closed on the place about a month and a half ago. We have been working with our architect on the design and DOB approval process.

What unexpected hiccups have you encountered along the way? How did you work through the issues?

The DOB has already thrown us a couple of curveballs. When we originally filed they found a document from 1936 that showed the building with a different configuration than it is now. So we had to file for a different type of approval that caused more design work and will require more inspections (and of course, more costs). We also found some termite damage in the basement that needs to be repaired. Once we start some of the demo in the place we are expecting to find some other surprises as well!

Do you work with local businesses in Bed-Stuy? If so, who do you recommend and why?

We are falling in love very fast with every single restaurant we have been trying- Grandchamps being a new favorite! We are going to try to use as many hyperlocal businesses as possible for the renovation. We pretty much need everything! Any and all recommendations are extremely helpful!

Are there still deals to be had in Bed-Stuy? If so, where?

We think so. Prices are definitely rising very quickly in Bedstuy, but it’s still possible to get a beautiful building for $1.5M or less. Just a couple of miles away in neighboring neighborhoods a similar building would be twice that. The eastern part of Bedstuy between Malcolm X and Broadway is the best bet for still finding a deal in the neighborhood.

If someone is looking to embark on the same journey, what advice would you give them?

Act fast. We think that Bedstuy prices are going to continue to rise. If things continue it will be harder to find something. Then find a good contractor and architect. It makes such a big difference to avoid hiccups and resolve them when they pop up. Also, enjoy the process!  It can feel stressful but it’s not something that you get to do many times in your life. Building your home while restoring a piece of Brooklyn history.

For people who don’t have skills in renovations which of the following would you recommend and why? 1) Buy a pricey, but fully renovated brownstone from a developer. Or 2) Buy a place that needs a gut renovation, hire an architect and general contractor, and get it done on your terms.

Our preference is obviously the latter. We don’t have a lot of experience in renovations, but we’re really looking forward to making the place our own. We looked at a bunch of developer buildings in the process of finding our home, they usually opt for taking out so much of the original detail and there are so many things that are done without a lot of thought.

Where can people find you and what can that do to help your project?

You can follow us on our blog at www.thebrownstoneboys.com. We are being published weekly in The Brownstoner and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook @brownstoneboys. We’re really looking forward to making Bedstuy our new home and hope you enjoy our renovation journey!