When my niece, Hannah Miet — a journalist for the Atlantic Wire and the New York Times City Room blogs – announced that she was joining the creative crew that runs the Brooklyn-based bed and breakfast called 3B Brooklyn, I listened with interest. The concept was in some ways reminiscent of the projects that prevailed during my own young adulthood, with a few significant differences.
The Age of Cooperative Living
I came into adulthood in the 1970s, at a time when it was still affordable for artistic types to live within New York City. Case in point, my rent-controlled studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan cost me $150 a month. You’d be hard-pressed to find that kind or rent anywhere, nowadays.
While I preferred my privacy, some of my friends opted for the communal living thing. Some, claiming “bad vibes” in New York City, moved upstate, joined communes and sold organic vegetables and baked bread. Those who opted to stay in the city knew that Manhattan was the place to be, but if they couldn’t find affordable rents, downtown Brooklyn was an acceptable alternative. As rents rose in Manhattan, Brooklyn gained a coolness factor out of necessity.
Brooklyn, with its multi-storey brownstones, lent itself to the cooperative living concept. Some groups of cohabitants even tried to create a business within their living space. I remember a group of people living in downtown Brooklyn who created a 24-hour hotline for people who found themselves on a bad LSD trip. Not sure how it made any money, though.
Fast-forward to 2010, and the New York Times reports that house-shares have become commonplace in Brooklyn. BB3 takes the house-share idea one step further, by offering a much-needed service.
The Birth of 3B Brooklyn
A group of eight 20-somethings, all of them working in the creative arts, occupy the second floor of 136 Lawrence Street in Downtown Brooklyn. When the third floor of the building became available, a set of light-bulbs illuminated their creative minds. The group decided to renovate the 1,000 ft. space, take over the lease and transform it into a bed and breakfast.
Writer Catherine Lacey, who conceptualized the project, was familiar with the B&B operation process, having worked at one in New Zealand. Still, it was not an easy task. Plumbing was blocked, lights were not working. They needed furniture, as well as an appealing décor. Fortunately, the talented group boasts an eclectic selection of skills, ranging from interior design, to bookkeeping, to repairing the things that go bump, click and crash in the night. Their work paid off. BB3 opened to rave reviews in October of 2010.
Each of the residents plays a role in the day-to-day operations of 3B Brooklyn.
The 3B Brooklyn Experience
All 3B Brooklyn guests enjoy a full, cooked breakfast, made from whole foods and fresh ingredients. Rumor has it that one of the residents makes a wicked mean vegetable fritatta! Other breakfast items might include homemade granola, homemade bread, pancakes or french toast. All breakfasts are vegetarian. If you require a vegan or a gluten-free meal, let the staff know, and they will accommodate you.
Guests choose from either of four rooms.
- Private Queen Rooms: High ceilings and an abundance of natural light embellish the two single queen rooms.
- Private Two-Bed Suite: This room boasts two queen-size beds and elegant window seating. It accommodates up to four guests.
- Bunks: The bunk room appeals to budget travelers, who don’t mind sharing a space with like minded journeyers from all parts of the globe. Comfortable mattresses, which sit on sturdy wood frames, form its beds. The room’s French doors open into the communal living room, where free Internet access is available.
All four rooms share a bath and shower, but there’s an additional toilet and sink down the hall.
It Is So Easy Being Green
True to the philosophy of green-living, 3B Brooklyn:
- Gets 100% of its electricity from wind power
- Is an EPA Green Power Partner
- Has a composting system on the roof
- Uses recycled paper products and eco-friendly cleaning products
- Furnishes their rooms with salvaged or antique furniture
Location, Location, Location
Don’t let the Brooklyn location discourage you. 3B is within walking distance of the subway. A 10-minute ride brings you to downtown Manhattan. Plus, you will want to take time to explore the local historic neighborhoods such as Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill.
Downtown Brooklyn cooperative living projects have come a long way since the 1970s. Now, instead of assisting people on “bad trips,” 3B Brooklyn helps people have the best trip possible!