In the many years I’ve worked as a real estate broker, I’ve found that one of the first things a prospective buyer always asks about are the amenities. They are often satisfied with a laundry room, live-in superintendent, part-time doorman, bike room, and package storage space (or that the porter will put packages in front of your door). But times are changing.
Now, it’s amenities PLUS. In a competitive market, I find that co-ops and condos are frequently looking to provide more: exploring options for roof decks, workout or gym rooms, meeting or media rooms, and other services one might more typically find in a swanky hotel or spa.
The situation is clear in the city’s new luxury buildings, where potential buyers now expect a level of amenity that has not previously been offered in New York. They want something new and creative that will make their life easier, or more fun, or that will allow them to impress and entertain friends and family with ease.
I know about this from personal experience. Besides being a broker, I also live in a co-op. For many years, my building’s board made noise about installing a gym. We had the space to do it: a large, storage room cluttered with old bikes, as well as a makeshift workout area with barbells and dumbbells used by the porter. Both were filled with the debris left over from many maintenance projects over the years.
Our committee got estimates in excess of $100,000 to create a gym in one of our storage rooms that had been collecting odds and ends for more than 20 years. Then opportunity knocked. Joe, a fellow shareholder who is a personal trainer and works at a Park Avenue co-op that has a well-equipped gym, had first dibs on equipment that was being replaced. “How much?” he asked. The gym managers at the Park Avenue co-op told him: “You can have it all for $500.” The catch: we had just three weeks to collect it or the deal was off.
That jump started our gym, as we went from conception to execution.
The whole project became a family affair, like those Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney films where everyone pitches in to put on a show in the barn. Joe’s wife, Sue, scoured Craigslist and found an out-of-business gym selling its year-old, interlocking rubber floor tiles for about $2,000. Sold! Meanwhile, another neighbor, an architect and interior designer, planned out the lighting, fans, and primary color palette: solid red, blue, and yellow on contrasting walls.
It all came together in a matter of weeks so that once the floor was in place, we could move the gym equipment from across town and get the “medicine” ball rolling, so to speak. We formed a committee and went to work. Three months later, we opened the gym to accolades by most of the shareholders (there will always be some naysayers who object to any money being spent). We charge $300 a year for a family membership and a $100 initiation fee that goes to capital improvements for the gym. To date, roughly half the shareholders are members. Now, if only we could have fit in a pool...