It seemed like a smart idea at the time. The apartment was lovely — new construction, three bedrooms, three and a half baths, nearly 2,000 square feet on the Upper East Side. The asking price was $2.995 million. A year earlier it would have gone fast. But this was early 2009 and the economy was in tatters. Offers were pathetic — the best, $2.2 million. Forget it, the owners said. We’ll rent the place.