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Real Estate Weekly
By Jackson Chen
Almost every luxury development in Manhattan boasts expansive views of the city. They all highlight their elegantly crafted living spaces. But to really separate themselves from the crowded market, more buildings are now looking to unique amenities to attract tenants.
Gone are the days where a state-of-the-art gym, full-service spa or movie theater is unique. Even bowling alleys, like the multi-lane skittle spaces at 555TEN and Essex Crossing, are becoming a part of more buildings.
So what’s a developer to do? Think bigger — or at least, think beyond what’s become the new normal.
“Every landlord today is looking for a competitive edge and looking for something to offer as an amenity,” said Adam Cooper, co-founder of GasMob. “The ability to bring gas to them is just one extra thing they may have versus somebody else.”
Yes, you read that right. Cooper has created a new app and partners with property owners to offer gas delivery to residents.
He believes he can change how most people refuel their vehicle, particularly in big cities like New York.
“In Manhattan alone there’s only a handful of gas stations at best,” Cooper said. “All my friends, especially in the summer, used to complain that they can’t find a gas station and when they could, it would be a pain in the ass because there’s always a line.
“Since everything was moving in the mobile direction, like with food delivery nowadays, I said what about this and reached out to some oil partners that I worked with before and they said it’s a genius idea.”
Through the app, the service delivers gas to residential buildings at scheduled times, usually five days a week, when residents can simply pump what they need. The gas often comes in at the same price as the local average and there are no additional fees included.
GasMob started out in Houston, Texas and has since expanded to Miami, Florida. As demand for his service is growing rapidly, he hopes to end up in New York City soon.
While the city is tough with regulations, Cooper said GasMob matches the mentality of luxury developments and their tenants.
“You have all these brand-new restaurants or personal chefs in their lobbies,” Cooper said of amenities in New York. “Everything is getting so extreme and if you have a good price and a client willing to pay for it, the possibilities are unlimited, especially living in Manhattan.”
GasMob is just one of a slew of specialist amenities now finding their way into new developments across the country.
Bicycle kitchens — workshop areas where cyclists can also socialize — stroller valets, such as the one at 251 First Street in Park Slope, are growing in popularity.
A private jet concierge was introduced at 111 Murray Street in Tribeca and a yacht rental offered at 1 Seaport.
In Staten Island Urby, a 5,000 s/f urban farm is the first commercial farm included in a residential development. It’s meant to offer a social space while offering fresh produce for residents and a weekly’s farmer’s market.
“In many areas like Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn, Midtown West, there’s so much competition and more inventory coming online,” said Rory Bolger, a Citi Habitats broker.
Bolger believes developers are adding more and more amenities to attract tenants, especially those that are further from subway access.
“The greatest amenity in New York City is nearby subway access,” Bolger said. “Now if you move further away from that and you want to be in the luxury category, you’ve got to offer some special bells and whistles.”
Bolger currently renting 153 Remsen Street, which is offering a children’s playroom that was designed by Carmelo the Science Fellow, an after-school program in Brooklyn.
But he warned that there has to be serious thought into what to offer residents, instead of aiming for another unique amenity.
“Landlords might pick amenities that might draw people in, but it’s hard to quantify what works,” Bolger said. “There’s a fine line between picking your amenity and not abusing your amenity space.
“That amenity space in a building could be an apartment so you’re choosing to give away $60 to $70 a foot of rent for an amenity,” he pointed out. “But you got to keep up with the Jones and if you’re a new development, you shouldn’t be bland.”
The chase for unique amenities has led to a lot of “first-evers” to entice potential tenants.
Waterline Square, a luxury condo in the Upper West Side from GID Development, is the first to bring an indoor skatepark to a residential development in New York City.
“If you look at projects in New York or around the globe, not many have amenities for teens, and instead only for kids and parents,” said James Linsley, president of GID Development. “We wanted to provide something that was fun for any age group and not leave anyone out.”
Linsley said they didn’t just add a skateboarding element to the building, but created a space for teens to gather as the space includes lounge seating, a sound system with a DJ deck and a large-screen TV equipped with video games. GID worked with SITE Design Group to create the 42-foot long and four-foot high halfpipe that has a 10-foot extension.
“The market will always be changing, but having a unique, one-of-a-kind amenity program like Waterline Square will continue to set it apart from other projects,” Linsley said.
“We look at the bigger picture and see what enhances the lives of those who will live here. Every kid here will want to invite their friends over and they have every imaginable space you could want.”
For fun, we took a look around the globe to see what could be coming to a new development here soon:
• At 900 NE 1st Avenue in Miami, FL, the new Worldcenter skyscraper is (in) the nation’s largest mixed-use project, behind only Hudson Yards. It has been retrofitted for the future that include flying cars (pictured top).
• Burk Khalifa in Dubai, is the worldʼs tallest building and, to transport people around quickly, the developers commissioned Otis to create the world’s fastest double-deck elevators.
• Bathroom specialists Toto have begun manufacturing floatation tubs,sensory deprivation tanks where residents can float in a dark, soundproof chamber. The Quincy in Denver is expected to be among the first new developments in the US have such available to residents this year.