From the time Niall Dennehy arrived in New York, he was booked every night. It was because of Dublin, his hometown.
“Friends of friends and family members all started saying, ‘You must meet this person,’ and it became like serial friendship dating,” he said. “That can be great when you first move to the city. You don’t know all these people really well but you know people in their circles and that gives you a connection to them and you start to form your own groups.”
Mark Stokes stood out. A fellow Dubliner, he had arrived in New York six years before Mr. Dennehy. Technically, they didn’t know each other back home but that didn’t matter. “We’re Irish, we all know each other,” Mr. Stokes said. “Dublin is so small — everyone’s a mutual friend. When an Irish person I know moves over, I get in touch. It can be hard to find your feet — and to find your friends.”
Mr. Stokes took Mr. Dennehy for a bar crawl in Hell’s Kitchen, shortly after Mr. Dennehy arrived in January of 2022. “It was our first time hanging out one-on-one, Mr. Stokes said. “It helps that we can drink at the same pace. But it’s also important that we can sit together and, because we’re Irish, talk without that feeling of, ‘Oh I need to explain this context and this background.’ There are a lot of things that you just get.”
Mr. Stokes knew he would wind up in New York by the time he was 15. “I had no plan or any idea how to make it happen,” he said, “I just knew that’s where I’d like to live.”
After a brief stint in London, his job at an advisory firm for chief executive officers brought him to New York in January of 2018. Mr. Dennehy arrived on a work visa from his tech firm. If their fast-forming friendship was made up of one part memories of Dublin, the other part was a shared connection to New York.
“It’s hard getting here,” Mr. Dennehy said, “and it’s hard staying here — all the visa work and hoops you have to jump through. But if you put the effort in, the city will give you a lot more back.”
Mr. Stokes appreciates not just that the city has so much to offer but that he routinely feels welcomed. “In London you had to be in the circle to get the invite to the party,” he said. “Whereas in New York, you can just go out, end up meeting someone and god knows where it’s going to lead. It’s usually fun and you’re always going to get a good story from it. A friend invited us to a fashion week party.” Those kinds of encounters wouldn’t happen in Dublin, Mr. Stokes said.
Mr. Stokes and Mr. Dennehy found themselves spending a lot of time in the West Village — and, eventually, they were looking for one-bedroom apartments in that neighborhood when both of their leases came up for renewal. But seeing how small the spaces were that fit within their respective budgets made them second-guess their allegiance to the neighborhood. “You have the West Village at your doorstep,” Mr. Stokes said, “but you don’t have anything behind the door.”
Facing the reality that neither of them would be able to get what they wanted on their own, they decided to find a two-bedroom to share and started considering other neighborhoods. They knew they wanted an apartment that felt like a home, with enough room to put their feet up at the end of a long night out — and enough room for a washer and dryer to do laundry the next morning. Most importantly, if they were going to share an apartment, they wanted the layout to preserve a sense of privacy for each of them.
A friend who worked in real estate public relations suggested a dozen new developments where they might find the space and amenities they sought, and the two friends set aside a mere three days to find the perfect place.
“It was a military operation,” Mr. Dennehy said.
$7,250 | Downtown Brooklyn
Niall Dennehy, 31; Mark Stokes, 32
Occupation: Mr. Dennehy is a global strategy and operational lead for a tech firm; Mr. Stokes is a managing director with an advisory firm for chief executive officers.
On the Brooklyn Tower vibe: “There’s something different about this building,” Mr. Dennehy said. “It’s not like every other high-rise.” He’s particularly fond of the main entrance through the old Dime Savings building. “The bank is phenomenal, and it really anchors this building in the neighborhood.”
On design aesthetics: Mr. Dennehy describes his taste as modern and Mr. Stokes’s as colorful. “Mark likes every color under the rainbow, so that presented some challenges,” he said. To which Mr. Stokes retorted: “Cream and brown, cream and brown, cream and brown — that’s what he likes.” The two friends claim to have visited nearly every furniture showroom in the city to find options they could agree on. Finding a sofa — an event now known as “sofa-gate” — was hardest of all. “Eventually we found a navy that worked,” Mr. Stokes said.
Armed with spreadsheets on their iPads and an established ranking system for each possibility, Mr. Stokes and Mr. Dennehy began their hunt for a two-bedroom apartment with a whirlwind tour of viewings.
One of the last apartments they saw was in the Brooklyn Tower. After feeling unsure about the first unit they saw with two bedrooms stacked right next to each other, they viewed a second layout with two bedrooms on opposite ends of the apartment, each with an en suite bathroom.
“I remember walking in and thinking ‘this is it,’” Mr. Stokes said, “and looking at Niall, hoping he was having a similar thought process.”
His friend wasn’t an easy read in the moment. “We had a process,” Mr. Dennehy said. “It’s easy to get excited early on so I was trying to keep my poker face.”
He did admit, however, that as soon as they walked out, “We both got a little giddy.”
In May, when the two roommates showed up with their moving truck, finishing touches were still being put on the lobby and they realized they were the first to move in. “When we arrived, there were no tenants,” Mr. Stokes said.
Yet there was a familiar lilt to greet them at the entrance. “The first doorman we met was Irish,” Mr. Dennehy said. “We thought, OK, here we go. The world is so big and yet so small.”
The staff, which was just settling into its role in an empty building, was eager to help with the move. “Everyone was very excited,” Mr. Dennehy said, “It felt like the whole staff was inside our apartment within the first hour.”
Maintenance workers even offered to take their boxes down to recycling. “They said just leave them outside the door and we’ll get them,” Mr. Stokes said.
“They were excited, which made our excitement more,” added Mr. Dennehy. “When you’re the first in, you get that sense. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that experience again in my lifetime. It’s been really interesting for us as the first residents. There’s been a real evolution and a real sense of energy in the building. It’s been cool because we’ve lived through the journey of the building.”
At the end of each day, when Mr. Dennehy’s head finally hits the pillow, he leaves his bedroom window blinds open. He likes to fall asleep to the view of the Empire State Building and the Manhattan skyline.
“This building provided an anchor,” he said, “and a feeling of, ‘Oh, maybe we are making it here. Maybe it is possible.’”
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