NYC Apt Buyers Avoiding Co-Ops, Brownstones; Opting for Bland Condo Units
By: Serach Nissim
New developments across the Big Apple are starting to look strikingly similar.
As reported by the NY Post, price conscious buyers are steering clear from restrictive co-ops and historic brownstones and opting for generic-looking, cookie-cutter condo units. Bartell Cope, 32, and his fiancé Samantha Gorman are relocating from Santa Cruz, California to Harlem. “The romantic idea of restoring a brownstone is awesome, but frankly a luxury if you can manage that,” said Cope, who has a remote job in sales. The couple is in contract for a new unit in the Rennie.
The new 8-story building, located in central Harlem, has 134 units considered luxury residences– with one-bedroom units starting at $675,000. Still, the units don’t offer the transitional spaces featured in super-luxury buildings, so they and are considered “efficient,” explained Stephen Kliegerman, marketing president of Brown Harris Stevens Development. The building offers shared amenities including a gym, children’s playroom, rooftop lounge, a party room, and private storage.
“The Rennie, with a 25-year tax abatement at a very reasonable price per square foot, is a great value play,” Kliegerman said. Apartments like this “tend to be a lot more efficient, [have] a lot less circulation space, but a lot more usable space.” Cope said he doesn’t consider his new 792-square-foot apartment soul-less, just because it is designed to look just like the other units. “You make a place your own with paint, decorations and your personal energy, so it isn’t cookie-cutter to me — it’s practical.”
The reality is that developers are looking to make a profit and in these efficiency buildings, more units translate into more profit. A lot of developers of new buildings are “trying to create as many units as possible in the overall footprint of the building,” explained Corcoran real estate agent Sam Teichman.
Aida Sukys, CFO of software company Justworks, said that even though a lot of the new buildings, don’t have “the pre-war history or charm”, it doesn’t make them any more cookie-cutter than pre-war conversions. I like aesthetic design and “the finishes at Jolie (at 77 Greenwich St) and felt that they were anything but cookie-cutter,” Sukys said, referring to the 42-story high-end, luxury building built in 2020 offering 90 units in the Financial District. She said she would prefer to “layer in my own touch and character in the home via furniture, paintings, and wall color, and not have to worry about constant maintenance.”
Louise Phillips Forbes, a long-time luxury real estate broker, said developers are not to blame for the generic layouts, which have become commonplace especially in so-called efficiency units. As per the Post, she said they are just giving buyers what they want, and are responding to the market. “What developers build and what those cookie cutters offer,” said Philips Forbes, are particularly appealing to “international buyers” who don’t necessarily feel a strong connection to the city’s history and don’t prioritize the soul of a pre-war building.