Will King Phojanakong find his dream house Downtown?

Chef King and his wife Annabel. Photo: Halstead Property

Chef King and his wife Annabel. Photo: Halstead Property

Chef King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn and Umi Nom Asian restaurants was looking for a bigger house for his growing family.

“As a true New Yorker I’ve been living in rentals my whole life. I think it’s time to move. The one-bedroom is getting smaller,” he said.

Two developments are giving the move a sense of urgency: One, his lease is up in July, and two, he is now the father of a 15-month-old girl named Phoebe.

“Her toys are growing as much…The walls are coming closer and closer each day,” King told Halstead Property Senior Vice President Ayo Haynes in the reality TV show “Selling New York.”

King’s budget was initially set for $1 million, but he was willing to stretch it to a max of $1.2 million. For that amount, he wanted a living space in Lower Manhattan with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a great exhaust system in the kitchen.

“Exhaust is important,” King said. He shared that his wife is always complaining that he turns up the fire too high in the kitchen making the entire house “smoky.”

The program, which aired January 24th, showed Ayo taking King to two properties in Battery Park City, and a third one on Broad Street in the Financial District.

The first property is priced at $989,000, a 1,113 sq. ft. condo with an electric stove, which King didn’t like very much. Common charge or maintenance fee is $3,400 a month. “It’s like renting a one bedroom,” said King.

A second condo in the same Battery Park City area had a cost of $1.17 million with a 1,284 sq. ft. size. King seemed to like the venting through an open window with the possibility of creating a new one through the wall. The common charge of $2,800 a month still seemed stiff for King, who crunched the numbers along with mortgage and other expenses.
Ayo Haynes explained that Battery Park City is typically a land-lease arrangement where property developers do not own the land, and so cost is passed on to tenants.

For the third property, King’s wife and daughter joined the search to view a condo in the Financial District. It’s in an elegant high-rise building – “White glove all the way,” said Ayo – with amenities such as a pool, a community recreation room, and a bowling alley.

The price is $1.22 million for the size of 1,351 sq. ft. Again, venting is a problem. Cooking smoke is simply recirculated and does not escape the room. Also, it has only one bedroom, although it shows a lot of open spaces.

“$1.2 is pretty much the max, I need money to furnish the place,” he said.

In the end, King and Annabel decided to stay put in their rental, a decision that makes sense in an uncertain economy and where owning-versus-renting remains a New Yorker’s dilemma.

Buying a house “is a big moment in life and you have to make the right choice,” said King. — Cristina DC Pastor


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