Service-Based Amenities Adding Value, But at What Cost?

In major US cities these days, the decision to live in one co-op or condo building versus another often hinges upon the style of living afforded in a particular property. Whether it is defined partly by a full-scale gym and spa, a children’s study room/library, a community room or another common space, the physical amenities of a building help create the lifestyle people get when they buy an apartment. 

High-end condo buildings and developments tout their luxe amenities; swimming pools, wine cellars, screening rooms, and much more. Brick-and-mortar perks like these are ubiquitous in both newly-constructed properties and vintage ones. But those aren’t the only kinds of amenities on the upswing; service-based amenities are another popular way to raise a building or HOA’s profile, attract new buyers, and boost resale prices. Such activities also can help build cohesiveness in the community, by bringing residents together in events where they mingle and get to know their neighbors. 

At Your Service

Call it pampered, just plain discriminating, or a perk of success hard-earned, residents want more out of city living these days, and that’s why service-based amenities are growing in popularity. The idea of buying into certain amenities in a building—or creating new amenities for one’s own building through a board-appointed committee and/or specialized vendor—is liberating to many urbanites and suburbanites alike. And so planned activities, whether they are yoga classes or spin classes, massage sessions or outings, can help busy residents make the most of their time while also giving them opportunities to get to know their neighbors. 

While the ubiquitous white-gloved doorman is a given for any top-notch residential building in New York, Chicago or Miami, how that doorman functions has changed over time. For all buildings, a doorman is a first line of security, also opening the door and carrying bags into or from the building as part of his or her regular duties. 

At the very least, having such a pro on staff, dressed appropriately and with a friendly demeanor, is a must for many buildings. But the scope of a doorman’s duties should be clearly defined to avoid confusion over what tasks are expected of this front-line representative, so to speak, of a residential building. Some buildings extend the doorman’s duties to quasi-concierge services, including accepting parcels for residents, and holding them or delivering them to apartments. (While expected in one building, package delivery might be fraught with too much liability to suit the board of another – so your own results may vary.) In some cases, doormen have been expected to even respond to late-night calls from residents ranging from food delivery issues to an elderly resident’s call to help her get back into bed after she fell out. While such service is perhaps impressive, it can also be problematic from a legal/liability standpoint. 

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