How Ground-Floor Retail Resonates With Condo and Co-op Owners There Are Some Possible Benefits

How important is it for condo or co-op buyers and owners to have commercial retail on the ground floor of their buildings? (iStock).

One of the key selling points about New York City living is convenience. To have everything you may ever need a few blocks or subway stops or a delivery away is such a privilege as to offset the Big Apple's exorbitant real estate prices, at least for some. So given the ready access to food, apparel, arts and leisure, how important is it for condo or co-op buyers and owners to have enviable commercial retail on the ground floor of their buildings or on their blocks? Does it really move the needle when compared to a property that's a few blocks or even a short subway ride away?

Your Green Grocer

“I think people care,” says Elizabeth Ann Stribling-Kivlan, president of residential real estate firm Stribling & Associates (which has offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn), in regards to extreme convenience to retail – especially healthier grocers such as Whole Foods. “When you're developing a new property, you have to be mindful of the retail that you put in. If residents are to be paying upwards of $2,000 per-square-foot, you don't want a low-end commercial space in that building. Do you want to pay that much money just to walk downstairs and go to a dive bar? I'm not putting down dive bars, but I don't want to live in 'PBR Land.' I might want to go to 'PBR Land,' but I don't need to live there.”

Granted, the Whole Foods or similar market at or adjacent to your building is not quite as advantageous should there be myriad options for the same type of merchandise nearby. Therefore, as Georgia Lombardo-Barton, president of New York City-based Barton Management LLC, notes, areas that are gentrifying or undergoing a repositioning/revitalization stand to capitalize more from a new, unique, and specific commercial retail option. “A Trader Joe's or Whole Foods will add greater value to a purchaser's consideration when buying into [a burgeoning] type of area,” she says. “The experience of retail vitality is always attractive in pursuit of the ultimate lifestyle when purchasing real estate.”

That said, one issue with having a grocer in your building that can cause some blow-back, according to Klara Madlin, president of Klara Madlin Real Estate in Manhattan, is that with it may come excessive noise, among other things. “There are trucks loading and unloading at various hours,” she says. “And garbage can be an issue; even vermin, to be frank. So it's not as much of a perk if it's directly downstairs as it is when it's across the street or down the block; somewhere close.” Unless, as Lombardo-Barton also observed, the area is in the early throes of development, in which case it can be a boon.

Fit for Purchasing

Despite being constantly on the go, New Yorkers still love their gyms. So whether you're the type who is steadfast about visiting regularly, or the type to easily talk yourself out of a workout, having one in your building – or at least nearby – is an asset.

“I have friends who would literally move into a building because there's a 24-hour SoulCycle there; that type of thing is a huge draw,” enthuses Stribling-Kivlan, citing Crunch and Equinox as other such in-demand commodities.


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