“I am not going to throw away my valuable time sitting in the car or stuck on a subway,” he said. In Birmingham, his drive to work took just 14 minutes in the early morning hours; the same trip home, in traffic, consumed an hour.
Last winter, the hospital referred him to Steve Hallerman, an associate broker at Citi Habitats, for help with the hunt. Mr. Hallerman, familiar with what was available in the immediate area, nudged Dr. Cerfolio’s four-block range up to 10 or more blocks. And one Sunday, Mr. Hallerman took him out to see some options.
“The budget was $8,000, $10,000, $12,000, whatever,” Mr. Hallerman said of the monthly rent. “He didn’t know what he would get for his dollar. It is like buying a car: I will show you a Volkswagen and a Tesla. He was unfamiliar with Manhattan, and I wanted to give him a feel for different buildings.”
Dr. Cerfolio rejected some buildings partly because they had unimpressive gyms. One building’s demographic skewed too old. Another’s skewed too young.
He liked a four-bedroom with two balconies at the Future, a condo, for $12,000 a month. “I thought if my kids come, they could have a private room,” he said. But the view wasn’t ideal, as it was partly obscured by neighboring towers.
At $9,000 a month, a beautiful three-bedroom on a low floor at the Abbey Condominium, a former church parish house near Stuyvesant Square, had no views and lacked amenities. And in any case, Dr. Cerfolio’s taste tended toward modern buildings. He also didn’t relish a 20-minute walk to work on cold winter mornings.
But just north of the hospital, on First Avenue, the American Copper Buildings were rising: two copper-clad towers connected by a skybridge, in the shape of a crooked “H.” Dr. Cerfolio loved the unusual exterior, gleaming in the sun.
Although construction was still under way, Mr. Hallerman later visited the buildings and “knew this was perfect,” he said.
Dr. Cerfolio scrutinized the website and visited in the spring. The West Tower was already open for renters, while the East Tower won’t be ready for leasing until later this year.
He chose a two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit — one of three, out of 761 units, with a terrace — for $14,100 a month. The view is of the East River and Queens in one direction and the Empire State Building in the other.
His new home is far smaller than his Alabama residence, but the transition was not difficult. “My kids were out of the house and my wife had passed away, so I was looking forward to a new phase,” he said.
The building amenities, including a pool and gym, should be ready later this month, according to the developer. Until then, Dr. Cerfolio has been working out on his terrace nearly every morning.
The building has smart elevators, so his wait for an elevator is brief. And his efficiency in getting to work is unparalleled.
“The median time is two minutes and 20 seconds,” he said. “I can go in under two if I go really fast.”