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Jane Benson, 43, and Lucas Cooper, 46A Sculptor and an Owner of ROIR, a Music Label
Live with: Their baby twins
Jane: The building drew us to this block.
Lucas: It used to be a day-care center, a dry cleaners.
Jane: We realized I was paying rent for a studio, Lucas was paying rent for ROIR, and we were obviously paying rent where we lived. We were spending so much money on rent. So we started looking around. We wanted one floor to be my studio and ROIR, and we needed a tenant to pay for the building. A lot of the real-estate agents just thought we were investors. I mean, we don’t look like investors, but they thought we were just going to buy it and do whatever with it. And the real-estate agent said, “Oh, you actually want to live here?” “Yes, we want to live in the building we buy.” And he said, “Oh, I know a brilliant place.”
Lucas: It was pitch black out when we saw the building.
Jane: We only saw one floor — the first floor — and we said, “We’ll take it.”
Lucas: In the back of a car, we signed some document.
Jane: In the pitch black.
Jane: Especially with the twins arriving — and that wasn’t planned — we would never have made it work without this building. And we saw this place before everything went nuts here. Three years ago. The prices now, there is no way we could do it. We hope to be here a long time.
Lucas: In terms of our setup, we’re great. But in terms of the babies, we have to figure it out. Schools are important.
Jane: When we bought the building, there were two floors rented. One of the floors hadn’t been paying rent for nine months, and the other tenant had been paying rent but stopped. So that made me nervous. And it seemed like the landlord had no rights.
Lucas: We made a deal with the previous owner.
Jane: We said we wouldn’t take the building unless he dealt with the tenants.
Lucas: And he agreed to it.
Jane: We got really lucky there. It seemed like it was going to be a long, long process, but in the end, it only took four months. All of the sudden, the judge told them they were out. And of course we’re very sensitive to that because these are people’s homes, but when people aren’t paying, it becomes a little different. If they’d been good tenants, we could have kept them. You don’t want to displace people.