His One-Two Punch
Kick-boxing champ flips co-op apartments and comes out a winner
by Margaret Mitchell
After a decade on Wall Street, you’d think Chris Kwiatkowski would know better, but real estate fever turns even the savviest heads. So when Kwiatkowski outgrew his one-bedroom apartment in Amalgamated Dwellings – his Grenadian-born girlfriend moved in and closet space became a scarce commodity – he began to look for larger digs, which he promptly bid on before the .rst place was sold.
Their spacious Seward Park two-bedroom, with sweeping midtown views and ample light, is saturated with color, texture, and an eclectic mix of art, souvenirs and memorabilia that Kwiatowski’s accumulated in his years of travel. One of the more remarkable decorative items is an oversize prize .ghter’s belt, commemorating his victory as 2004 Am Mur Thai TriState Kick-Boxing Champion. Growing up in Buffalo, New York, Kwiatkowski “didn’t even know what the Lower East Side was.” He came to New York for college, and friends introduced him to the neighborhood. After a stint as a renter at Stanton and Ludlow, he purchased a one-bedroom corner apartment in the Amalgamated complex.
Kwiatkowski found his current home before he put the one-bedroom on the market. Besides offering much more space – 1050 square feet and a huge terrace, compared with 750 square feet – the new place was also a shorter walk to the F train. Proximity meant better investment value. If history was any guide – the onebedroom’s appreciation “vastly exceeded” his stock-market investments – buying the two-bedroom would help him “build a nest egg” for the future. Turning the pro.ts from the sale into the purchase of a new, primary residence meant that Kwiatkowski could avoid paying the hefty capital gains tax. As a bonus, “I’ll be able, in due time, to sell this place and pay back my loans,” says Kwiatowski. (His predictions appear correct: the twobedroom unit has doubled in worth since he .rst bid on it, in April 2004.)
Exchanging one home for another seemed great in theory, but the execution was far from easy. “There were a lot of issues,” he says. “First was trying to put my one-bedroom on the market as quickly as possible.” LoHo brokers Dov and Jacob Goldman worked both sides of Kwiatowski’s deal, with Dov negotiating the purchase of the two-bedroom and Jacob the sale of the smaller space. “I’m a competitive person,” Kwiatkowski explains, to which some might add, and also a gambler with nerves of steel. “Luckily, one week after I went to contract, I got my asking price.” The gamble paid off, and the deal was on.
Then, unexpectedly, “The deal fell apart at the 11th hour.” But “LoHo came up with the second buyer quickly, and that buyer went through co-op approval in three months,” says Kwiatowski, who’s getting a masters in real estate development at NYU.
Kwiatowski’s practical education has taught him a few things. “Many people have good ideas, but are slow to act,” he says. “I ‘pulled the trigger.’ Having enough guts to actually go through with the idea was the smartest thing.” Still, there’s a cost. “You mortgage a bit of your future, especially when you’re as thinly stretched as I was. It takes some inner strength.”
Sitting on the sofa facing his uptown view, Kwiatkowski admits both comfort and relief. At home in his home and at ease in the world, he has zero regrets: “Knowing what I know now, I would still do the deal again.”