Once upon a time, when someone purchased a condo or co-op, their ownership came with the privilege of using the building’s amenities. Those who lived in a building with a fitness room equipped with treadmills and weights considered themselves fortunate, and those whose building had a swimming pool were downright envied.
Fast forward to today when full-service gyms have replaced bare-bones fitness rooms, and are as commonplace an amenity as a garage or a laundry room. When it comes to today’s high-end amenities, developers have upped the ante; the envied are now those with climate-controlled wine cellars, private movie screening rooms, in-house massage therapists, and even commercial kitchens that residents can use to host parties.
The residential building boom in many urban markets – both before the crash of ‘08 and since the subsequent recovery – has set off something of an arms race among developers eager to cash in on the desire of co-op/condo buyers for luxury, high-end amenities.
“Having high-end amenities corresponds to the famous architect designing a building,” says Patrick V. Lilly, licensed associate real estate broker with CORE in New York City. “People will pay more to live in a building built by a famous architect than others that weren’t. An element of luxury is comfort, but there’s a perceived element that your luxury is fancier and better than everyone else’s. Does a really great architect bring something more interesting to the table than a less well-known architect? Yes and no. I don’t think a standard architect would come up with certain designs, and if design is part of your aesthetic, that’s important to you – and you’ll pay to live there.”
“What you would once get in a high-end hotel, you now get in a high-end condo or co-op,” says Lilly. “It’s been during the last five years that luxury keeps on redefining itself in New York. What once was luxury is now never enough. People want more and more.”