Visiting Hon. Kathryn Freed’s new 18th floorhome
by Margaret Mitchell
Civil City Court Judge for the Second Municipal Court District and former Councilmember Kathryn Freed is a political person through and through. Sitting on the enormous balcony of her newly renovated 18th floor Co-op Village apartment (the East River Housing design awards some 18th floor apartments with mini tennis courts), I got the feeling she was much more interested in the social hustle and bustle in the streets below than she was in showing off her place.
And, mind you, it was one of those balmy February Sunday afternoons we’ve been blessed with this winter, the sunlight was pale and gentle, the sky perfectly cloudless and all baby blue and the breeze so tender and fluffy you just knew it was making up for past storms. Oh, how we envy you, high-floor balcony owners, and how much we want to get on your barbecue list!
Kathryn Freed was born in York, PA, “but I’ve lived in lower Manhattan since 1969.” A graduate of New York Law School, she’s been active mostly on the West Side. “I helped SoHo become an arts community, with the zoning and the Loft Law. Then I moved down to TriBeCa,” where she was on Community Board 1 from ’79 to ’91 and chaired it for several years. “I helped create P.S. 234, on Chambers and Greenwich, probably the best school in the city,” and was the “mother of the Washington Market Park,” just north of the school.
In 1992 Freed was elected to the NYC Council from District 1, which at the time did not include Grand Street, “But I was involved in funding for the Educational Alliance, Henry Street and University Settlements.”
What made her immigrate to the Lower East Side?
She didn’t want to leave Lower Manhattan, but the west side wasn’t an option. “A closet there costs a million dollars.” She’s been “renting since I’ve been in New York,” residing most recently in In-dependence Plaza, a Mitchell-Lama complex that just went private. The rent was still reasonable, but bound to increase. “It just seemed silly to me to continue to rent, when I can afford to buy,” she says. “Of course I’ve been aware of Grand Street, and I started looking around, came to a couple of open houses, and met Dov and later Jacob Goldman of LoHo.”
And so she described what she was looking for and Dov Goldman presented her with two places which became avail-able at the same time, and she went for the one with the gorgeous balcony. “It’s a one bedroom. I would have preferred a two-bedroom, but I
couldn’t give up the terrace.”
Her choices for the interior included knocking down the walls separating the kitchen from the living-room. “I opened it up completely,” she says. She placed an island at a good distance from the kitchen appliances, blurring further the distinction between the living and cooking spaces. She plans to entertain at home, and, indeed, created a fabulous space for partying. One can imagine the guests gathering, drink in hand, in chatty groups that stream from the balcony to the spacious living area. She even considers erecting a glass solarium or a collapsible party tent outside, for rainy days.
She always wanted Celadon Green cabinets. Her contractor, Joe Foti, suggested a few local cabinet makers and she decided on City Cabinets on Ludlow Street. “It’s a bit more expensive, but I got the color and the style I wanted.” She also decided to use the same slab of blue stone that she picked for her kitchen counter to serve as windowsills across the apartment, enhancing the feeling of a contiguous living space.
Her new apartment is still not completely ready, so it will be a few weeks before we see her on Grand Street, brief-case in hand, on her way to Centre Street. When we ask her what she’s planning to do about transportation to work she answers, straightforwardly, “I’ll walk.”
We were impressed.