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Playrooms & Pools...Or Purifiers & Pods? COVID is Changing How Developers Market Units

Crescent Street, Long Island City, Queens

As condo associations and co-ops across the nation (and the world) contend with establishing reopening procedures and monitoring protocols for their existing amenities after COVID-related shutdowns, buildings that are still in development  - or that are contemplating common-space renovations - have a different question before them: Do historically popular amenities still have the same appeal in the wake of a prolonged pandemic? 

Mid-Development Shifts

In Long Island City, Queens—which has seen a surge of new development after two decades of changes in zoning laws and increased attention from buyers and renters interested in living in a safe, vibrant neighborhood close to Manhattan—builders of buildings in the planning or early construction stages are rethinking their development and marketing strategies to align with a new, post-pandemic reality. 

For example, according to a recent report in The New York Times, a planned movie theater theme intended to correlate with nearby Kaufman Astoria film studios is now on the cutting room floor at an upcoming 70-unit project in the Dutch Kills neighborhood. Rather than an in-house cinema, the building will now feature a “sanctuary” environment with state-of-the-art air purifiers and an emphasis on wellness. 

At Skyline Tower, a new LIC luxury condo that at 778 feet is now Queens’ tallest building, according to the Times, the building’s proximity to Midtown offices -- once a key selling point for prospective buyers -- has much less caché now that its target demographic is largely working remotely. This shift has developers questioning how to market their 802 units, many of which were designed more to showcase high-end finishes and access to common amenities (like a 75-foot indoor pool) than square footage and individual outdoor space. 

Some developments with the flexibility to alter previously-designed apartment floor plans to reflect the seismic shifts triggered by COVID are looking to include home offices and decontamination rooms in their layouts, foregoing the once popular open floor plan to create more separate, private spaces, the Times indicates. And while common amenities like gyms and playrooms remain closed or tightly limited, private outdoor space is sure to be a big draw. Even the use of public parks that once offered New Yorkers access to (more or less) peaceful space, recreation, and nature is now constrained by the need to practice social distancing and enforce mask-wearing. Proximity to these parks—once so desirable—may not have quite the same marketability as a private terrace, balcony, yard, or roof space in the wake of the pandemic. 

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