Best places to live in Westchester in 2013: Mamaroneck, NY

From his private terrace on the top floor of the Hawthorne Gardens co-ops, artist Piero Manrique can see everything: trees, water, Long Island, “which looks like mountains far away,” and even the distant towers of Manhattan. The terrace is a big reason he and his girlfriend, Meg Sommers, bought the apartment three years ago. “The view felt really special. It gives you a completely different perspective, being up high. You start to admire the clouds more.”

The village of Mamaroneck offers a lot of different options for the buyer, says Julie Webber, broker at Houlihan Lawrence in Larchmont, which is in the town of Mamaroneck. “You could start off by renting a condo in the downtown area, which is walking distance to the train.  You could purchase a single-family home, a townhouse or a co-op apartment. The range is pretty wide. There are neighborhoods with multi-million-dollar waterfront homes on the Long Island Sound, houses starting in the low $500,000’s, and co-ops for under $300,000.”

Manrique says there is much to admire about this historic harbor-side village, which has long welcomed immigrants. There’s the ever-hipper Mamaroneck Avenue, with its vintage—albeit cramped—movie theater (“it’s like going back in time”), shops, and ethnic restaurants. There’s the Harbor Fest street fair, when the whole community turns out for music and food. There are the mansions on the water in the Orienta neighborhood, where “you feel like you’re somewhere in Miami, not Mamaroneck.” And, of course, there’s the Sound, from which he draws inspiration for his enormous paintings: “I love our nature and the ocean.”

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Finally, there are the people who bolstered him when he arrived at 14 with his mother and sister from Lima, Peru, unable to speak much English. But he had a gift for art. Says the Mamaroneck High School graduate, “Everybody, especially the teachers, was supportive. It was a blessing for me.” Now a US citizen, he’s held fundraisers for Habitat for Humanity and the Hispanic Resource Center of Larchmont and Mamaroneck, selling his work as a way of giving back.
Manrique attended Purchase College and Parsons The New School of Design, but he returned to Mamaroneck to live. His top-floor apartment is 2,400 square feet—including the terrace—and has a fireplace and large windows, to let in the light. He would like to make it more like a loft. Stacked with paintings, the apartment is also his studio, but, when the weather’s fine, Manrique paints outside on the terrace, with its limitless view.

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