When it comes to New York rental real estate stories there are few basic tropes that everyone perks their ears up for: There are the absurdly expensive ones ($100,000-a-month rentals) and the incredibly tiny one (90-square-feet, anyone?) and then there are the deals—those rent controlled apartments that you will never, ever have no matter whose leg you hump. This is one of those stories. Get ready to cry.

The Times today goes to look at the rent-controlled apartments above the Cherry Lane Theater in the Village and holy crap! A "one-bedroom with exposed brick and wide-beam floors" for $750 is impressive, no? Try again! The guy across the hall pays $331.76-a-month in rent. Did we mention the four-bedroom and open living room apartment he rents has "11-foot ceilings, exposed brick walls, piles of hardcover books, and views of chimneys and water towers," and is, the Times is not wrong here "a 1,200-square-foot monument to the Greenwich Village of our fantasies?" If the apartment's 80-year-old owner weren't so keen on keeping it ("I don’t plan on dying because I don’t want to give up a rent-controlled apartment," he tells the paper of record. "I pay so little I’m almost embarrassed.") we'd be probably be hanging around Commerce Street right now...

So how come the apartments are so cheap? Rent control and nice landlords. The building has been rent-controlled for quite some time and its owner, Angelina Fiordellisi (who bought the Cherry Lane and its apartments in 1996), isn't really interested in being a landlord as much as running a theater. So the building breaks even, barely, and that's all she asks of it.

Fiordellisi's even willing to cut some deals for the non-rent controlled units. One couple pays $2,500 for a three-bedroom in the building (still a steal in the neighborhood) because one the renters grandmother was the actress Kim Hunter, who lived in the apartment for 50 years. The couple asked to keep it in the family, and they and Fiordellisi worked out a deal. "Four generations in the same apartment!" Ms. Fiordellisi wrote the Times in an e-mail. "I love it!"

She may love it, but those of us living in shoe boxes in Queens where the electric bill isn't far from those people's rents? Not so much!