It’s the invasion of the suburban grandparents!
Two Westchester millionaires are selling their $1.7-million mansion — complete with a swimming pool, plenty of extra bedrooms for the grandkids and five lush acres to run around on — and moving to a nondescript, 1,700-square-foot apartment above a dry cleaner on Smith Street.
“We’ve been in the suburbs seeing more chipmunks than people for a while. We’re ready for a change,” said Mimi Miles, who, with her husband Jeff, recently bought 285 Smith St. on the corner of Sackett Street in Carroll Gardens for $1.6 million.
The Miles decided last year to flee their tony Croton-on-Hudson nest — selling the seven classic cars that lived in its double-decker garage — and move to the city, where, Jeff Miles said, “we would have less to take care of.”
“I sold three Porsches and got a Subaru Forester that I can park on the street,” added Miles, a 63-year-old semi-retired perfume industry chemist.
A generation ago, people from swank enclaves like Croton-on-Hudson — where it is not unheard of for a person to commute to a Lower Manhattan office via helicopter — wouldn’t have pulled over for a cannoli on gritty, Godfather-run Smith Street, much less lived there.
Even five years ago, following the street’s evolution into a trendy restaurant row, a couple like the Miles would have been far more likely to settle in Brooklyn Heights or Park Slope.
Certainly, the Miles are far from pioneers on the ever-upscaling restaurant row, but they do represent just how far the street has come since the restaurant row’s founding father Alan Harding opened the street’s first stylish bistro, Patois, in 1998.
Hip Smith Street has grown up — so naturally, it’s now attracting the grown-ups.
“Ten years ago the buildings were [cheap enough] that someone [young] could come in,” Harding said. “Now, the buildings are $1.5 million and there aren’t that many people with that kind of money.”
Mimi Miles said she and her husband chose the brick, three-story building after looking at homes in Park Slope and visiting Williamsburg with their 26-year old-son.
“Park Slope is too settled and Williamsburg is too young,” said Miles, who described herself as “a woman of a certain age.”
For the Mileses, Smith Street was the ideal middle ground.
“Smith isn’t done yet, but it’s not too much either,” she said.
Not everyone agrees. In fact, the Mileses’ move almost sounds like a new verse tacked onto the end of Life in a Blender’s just-released Smith Street dirge, “What Happened to Smith?” The catchy pop tune laments the loss of the street’s mythically gritty image, the identity that once kept homebuyers like the Miles away.
“Now they live there — and I live somewhere cheaper and commute back for shows,” said Don Ralph, frontman for the Brooklyn-born band.
Meanwhile, those who remain on the block say that they will welcome the new neighbors.
“In my experience, Smith Street has been a place for thirtysomething creative types with some money and a taste for the finer things,” said Lara Fieldbinder, owner of the indie fashion boutique Dear Fieldbinder at 198 Smith St.
“But there’s room for all kinds.”
There goes — or here comes — the neighborhood.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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