Pools, Golf and Bowling: Right down the hall!
Sometimes, it’s not enough to be attractive. To lure buyers and keep them happy, top buildings often have to entertain residents, too.
Many listings are, for better or worse, judged for the breadth and quality of their amenities — the gym in the basement of an exclusive co-op, or the summer camp’s worth of tennis courts, swimming pools and golf simulators in a shiny new condominium. Being able to practice golf swings in front of a virtual fairway may not come cheap, whether the resident has to pay for the privilege through additional fees or inflated common charges. But channeling your inner Arnold Palmer may be less of a drain than you think.
With so many buildings investing in on-site recreation, more perk-laden listings are out there than prospective buyers may realize, according to a search of recently available New York City apartments on StreetEasy.com andNYTimes.com. And if buyers are willing to consider the Bronx for a massage room, say, or Brooklyn for a robotic garage, they might find their must-have amenity at more reasonable prices. But even in Manhattan, you can buy a home with amenities for less than what these properties typically cost, and even for less than the average sales price over all, which was $1.9 million for condos in existing buildings in the third quarter, according to the Corcoran Group. For existing co-ops, Corcoran puts the average price at $1.3 million. However, you may have to head for once-industrial, transitioning edges of the island to find them. Indeed, in a bid to get people to consider fringe areas, developers often lard their more remote condos with whiz-bang extras.
“It seems like for every block you travel away from the middle of Manhattan, you will find buildings with more and more amenities,” said John W. Chang, a Re/Max agent who has a one-bedroom listing at the Atelier, a condo at the far reaches of West 42nd Street with a private basketball court, a playground and a rooftop ice-skating rink.
“The idea seems to be to create a mini-city with so many amenities that people feel like they never have to leave the building,” Mr. Chang said.
Of course, not all promised amenities are what they are cracked up to be. Listings sometimes suggest that pools are under the same roof when they are really a few blocks away. Sometimes phrases like “rock climbing” are merely click-bait, dumped into online ads to generate more hits in searches when there is no place to belay for miles.
But if buyers absolutely insist on doing the backstroke an elevator ride away from their apartments, and can’t afford a multimillion-dollar townhouse with a rooftop pool, possibilities exist.
Of the more than half-dozen choices of amenities on Halstead Property’s website, the most popular is “pet-friendly,” according to company officials, with “attended lobby” a close second.
But the most indulgent amenities often are not listed in easy-to-check boxes and may require a little more persistence to find, such as knot-loosening back rubs that can relieve the stress of the daily grind.
At Skyview-on-the-Hudson, a sprawling 1960s red brick co-op complex on Arlington Avenue in North Riverdale, the Bronx, residents can stroll across the property to a private clubhouse where a massage room awaits alongside a gym that offers Pilates classes. Though the co-op’s maintenance fees cover gym membership, massage sessions are extra, usually starting at around $80, according to Elite Pool and Fitness Management, which runs the facility. At $140,000, a studio at Skyview was among the lowest priced apartments with massage access recently for sale in the city.
For a massage that doesn’t require leaving the building and is in Manhattan, buyers might consider the Downtown Club, a 45-story, 280-unit condo tower at 20 West Street in the financial district. The building was once the Downtown Athletic Club and the home of the Heisman Trophy and, according to old floor plans and photos hanging in hallways, once had squash courts, rooms for checkers and chess, and even a golf course with tiny bridges and greens.
Today, on the seventh floor near a large gym, is a cozy massage room equipped with a towel-warmer and a stereo system for those who prefer to have their shoulders kneaded to New Age rhythms. There are no fees to use the facilities. Residents, however, are on the hook for the actual massage therapists’ fees.
Amenities tend to evolve. When the condo opened, for instance, it offered free breakfast, which is no longer the case, according to Kevin Geloso, the founder of KG Properties of New York, a brokerage. “Sometimes amenities seem like a good idea at the time, but they’re not used as often as expected,” Mr. Geloso said.
In late November, Mr. Geloso listed a 44th-floor corner studio at the Downtown Club with a windowed kitchen and views of the Statue of Liberty that rival those from a tour boat. At $675,000, the listing was among the least expensive of about 70 units for sale with massage room access in existing buildings in Manhattan, with the priciest a shoulder-locking $12 million.
Outdoor pool season may be a distant dream, but that doesn’t mean swimmers have to hang up their Speedos.
Condos and co-ops throughout the city offer indoor pools, an amenity that was a fixture in certain high-rise developments on the Upper East Side in the 1960s and 1970s, but now seems to know few neighborhood constraints.
Finding a low-cost place with a pool can be a chore. Some listings claim them, when the pools are actually at nearby YMCAs.
But the Bronx, again, may be worth a look. Last month, an alcove studio at 2400 Johnson Avenue in the Spuyten Duyvil section of Riverdale, with parquet floors and a private patio, was listed at $140,000. The building is a 14-story, 130-unit co-op with a small, recently retiled pool that offers a view of the Harlem River. It’s free to shareholders, though special events like the recent “Stay Up Late and Take a Dip,” which featured refreshments, cost $10.
A no-fee pool is not always an easy sell, management agents say, as residents who don’t swim may not want to chip in for upkeep. So some co-ops have opted for an à la carte payment model.
At the Excelsior co-op, at 303 East 57th Street in Manhattan, the pool is part of a health club in an adjacent building, but reachable through a door in the chandelier-hung lobby, so one can get there wearing flip-flops.
Measuring 40 feet in length and topped by a skylight, the pool is cleaned with saltwater, instead of chlorine. Co-op residents pay about $80 a month to swim there and use the club’s gym. Nonresidents, meanwhile, pay about $100 a month.
In late November, the Excelsior, a 1968 building, had a bright southern-facing alcove studio with three closets listed for $430,000 by Stephen Geller of the Corcoran Group. And at that price, it was among the least expensive in Manhattan, where about 100 for-sale apartments promise an indoor pool; these had an average list price of about $3 million, according to StreetEasy.
Is there a trendier amenity than this whack-a-ball-at-a-wall game?
Though “screen golf” has existed for decades, those who played it were mostly students at golf clinics. But a few years ago, New York developers began installing these virtual courses, which allow players to play nine holes or more without ever leaving home.
Golf simulators turn up in many rental buildings. Rentals often pack in more amenities than condos, since the younger people who often live in them tend to hang out in common areas, developers said.
But there seems to be plenty of golf to go around. A recent online search of the city found about 80 rental units in buildings that have golf simulators, along with 40 condos and co-ops. The least costly for-sale property with a golf option was on Staten Island, at the waterfront Accolade condo at 90 Bay Street Landing in St. George. A studio in the former warehouse was $327,000.
Across the harbor in Manhattan, virtual golfers can buy in places like the Platinum on West 46th Street in Times Square; the Corinthian on East 38th Street in Murray Hill; and 170 East End Avenue on the Upper East Side. Golf is also on the menu at 20 Pine Street in the financial district, a condo conversion of a bank office building whose elegant amenity space also includes a 60-foot pool, a billiards room and a gym; there is no annual fee.
At 20 Pine Street, the lowest priced offering was a studio with 730 square feet, plus an almost 200-square-foot private terrace. It was listed for $950,000 by Richard J. Steinberg of Warburg Realty.
“Fitness centers and indoor pools are almost givens now, so developers are seeking the next level,” Mr. Steinberg said. “Call them the ultra-amenities.”
An on-site parking garage may be enough of an amenity for some, at least until a dent in a door appears, or annoying waits begin to stymie beating a path out of town before rush-hour traffic heats up.
Those car owners might then conclude that careless and slow-moving attendants are sapping the value of a space.
Relief could be in sight. A handful of buildings now offer automated garages, where robots do the heavy lifting.
The cheapest robot-assist on the market in the city late last month was at 1610 DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn, in the L Lofts condo, where a two-bedroom, two-bath unit could be had for $749,000. L Lofts parking, in an adjacent garage reachable from inside the building, will set users back $138 a month. Manhattan options, meanwhile, include buildings like 123 Baxter Street in Chinatown and soon, condos like 12 East 13th (a former garage), 17 East 12th Street (another former garage) and 252 East 57th Street, a ground-up project. But be careful about search terms: “automated” can produce listings with automated blinds.
There’s also One York Street, a condo near Canal Street in TriBeCa, where a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath unit with a terrace and high-end finishes such as glass-topped kitchen counters was recently listed at $4.795 million with Janna Raskopf of Douglas Elliman.
Cars drive into One York’s garage and onto a circular platform that turns like a record player; drivers get out and then activate the parking system, which lifts the car and carries it to a designated berth, either up a few levels, or below grade. The whole process takes about a minute, and reassuringly, drivers can see the car the whole time.
The apparatus, though, shuts down sometimes, according to those who have used it. And to own a space at One York, buyers have paid up to $250,000, Ms. Raskopf said, with monthly fees around $75. Monthly garage fees in the area are about $700, she added.
For the two-bedroom unit at One York, the cost of the parking space was included, “because it’s such a practical and fabulous amenity,” Ms. Raskopf said.
Manhattan’s bowling legacy is long. Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan, where Dutch settlers hurled a ball or two, was designated as a park in 1733, making it the oldest park in the city. But with the closing last summer of Bowlmor Lanesin Greenwich Village after a 76-year run, it became a bit harder to find a place to bowl a few frames. For the general public, that is.
Private lanes are available in several buildings, including 15 Broad Street, a condo in the financial district, and at theAldyn, a condo-rental hybrid at 60 Riverside Boulevard. But the price of in-house bowling can be steep. A seven-bedroom duplex at the Aldyn with marble, teak and brushed nickel finishes was listed in late November for $14.5 million, the priciest of the 10 or so available apartments with access to lanes in the city. At the other end of the spectrum, a one-bedroom at 15 Broad, a former bank building, was $1.34 million.
The Aldyn’s two-lane bowling alley is part of an impressive 42,000-square-foot basement athletic complex operated by La Palestra, a high-end fitness chain. The members-only space also features a game room with a Ping-Pong table, a squash court and a two-level rock-climbing wall. The athletic complex will also be available to residents at One Riverside Park, a 219-unit condo now going up across from the Aldyn, on West 62nd Street. The buildings will be connected by an underground hall. Last month, prices at One Riverside Park, which is 85 percent sold, started at $7.6 million for a four-bedroom.
For those who can’t afford to buy, one option is the Ashley, a rental tower on West 63rd Street that also has access to the La Palestra outpost, also through its basement. Studios there start at $3,550 a month, its website says. But Ashley residents must fork over a monthly fee for the facility, while owners at the Aldyn and One Riverside Park are comped, according to a project spokeswoman.
Basketball Courts, and More
In the race to give buildings the latest and greatest amenities, basketball courts have come in from the cold, so residents can dribble to their heart’s content all year long. Memorable examples turn up in condos like Edge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Chelsea Stratus on West 24th Street in Manhattan.
Other buildings offer outdoor courts, which unlike, say, sun decks, are used until they’re actually covered with snow, and then again as winter winds down. Included in this group are condos like 15 William Street, in the financial district, and 635 West 42nd Street, otherwise known as the Atelier, near the West Side Highway. The Atelier’s court doubles as a tennis court and is near climbing equipment and barbecue areas.
All told, more than 100 apartments last month across the city were offering some kind of on-site basketball access, with the least wallet-draining being a $180,000 one-bedroom at the Foxwood Square condo complex in New Springville, Staten Island. The priciest was the entire 45th floor of the Atelier, for $85 million.Soincluding a one-bedroom on the 16th floor with a breakfast counter and a marble bath listed last month for $999,888 by Mr. Chang of Re/Max.
The Atelier recently became among the first buildings in the city to install its own ice-skating rink.
On a section of the roof on top of the 46th floor, the rink has a surface of chemically treated interlocking plastic panels that are skatable up to 80 degrees, said Daniel Neiditch, the president of River 2 River Realty, which has about 20 listings in the building.
An Atelier resident and the president of the condo board, Mr. Neiditch led the rink-installation effort. Though it may not have the romance of Rockefeller Center’s version, the rink, available free to residents and their guests, takes itself seriously all the same. “No fast skating, playing tag or suddenly stopping at any time,” read rules posted on a door. And unlike the sunken Rockefeller Center rink, it provides breathtaking views of the Hudson River.
For Mr. Neiditch, adding amenities like faux ice makes good business sense. “Owners want something that looks beautiful,” he said, “but at the end of the day, everybody looks at a home as an investment, too, and so the goal is to increase the value of their unit.”