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He Thought He Had Bought a Great Apartment. The Ceiling Held a Secret.

It’s as if you discovered that the living room in your new apartment had been painted by Michelangelo.

Frank DiLella moved to New York City in 2002 to study journalism and theater at Fordham University. After he graduated, he rented apartments in Astoria, Queens, and in Hell’s Kitchen and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

By 2020, he was ready to put down roots and buy something.

In September, with Covid raging, he found a 650-square foot, one-bedroom co-op, near Central Park. At the time, the working fireplace was the biggest allure.

“I loved it on sight,” said Mr. DiLella, 40, the host of “On Stage,” a program about the theater scene on Spectrum News NY1. “It was cozy, warm, and had so much potential.”

Frank DiLella’s apartment before the ceiling was removed to reveal the original one.Credit…The Corcoran Group

He made an offer to the co-op board that is responsible for a row of 1880s houses in the 100 block of West 78th Street. The offer was accepted, and Mr. DiLella provided the requisite packet of documents to the board, which in his case included a reference letter from the famed choreographer, Tommy Tune, a professional friend. A final interview over Zoom with several board members followed in November.

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