The latest boom of luxury real estate development in New York City seems to have sent seismic waves across the Northeast. In the past five years, luxury buildings in Boston and other East Coast cities have installed almost any amenity they can think of, from rock-climbing walls to driving ranges and pet concierges. But it’s not just in the big cities that today’s developers and boards are locking into an amenities arms race to keep up with competition.
Gimmicks aside, the allure of condo and co-op real estate is no longer just about location, door service, and high-end appliances. The younger and more affluent demographics are increasingly more interested in being sold a lifestyle, and the lifestyle offered from a building doesn’t just come from how nice the lobby looks anymore—it’s the activities and amenities that are offered. That shift to an activity-oriented lifestyle is turning buildings from sleepy bedroom communities into vertical, bustling villages.
On the luxury end of condo living, elegance and convenience is still king. Builders of new properties and boards of existing co-op, condo and HOA communities are getting creative in different ways, offering prospective buyers and current residents amenities that focus on a hotel-style level of service. In the luxury real estate world, many residents maintain very fast-paced lives, and prefer a home where many of life’s onerous routines are taken care of by the building. The result is many buildings taking on more staff positions and resources in order to handle a very high level of service.
For example, some newer buildings in New York and New Jersey are actually combining residential units with hotel units, blending the best of both worlds. One57 and the Baccarat Residences in Manhattan are among those that have actual hotels on their lower floors, and those buildings are raising the bar through the market in the metropolitan area. Communities in Boston and elsewhere now offer the types of top-tier services usually found in five-star hotels, including private dining and catering, dog walking services, housekeeping, valet parking, food shopping and expansive concierge offerings.
For the discerning buyers, utility is as important as aesthetics. “Especially in luxury condominiums, the industry has really moved past amenities that are unusual just for the sake of being different and towards uniquely useful spaces,” says Tricia Hayes Cole, executive managing director for Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group in New York.