Smart co-op and condo boards are always looking to add amenities that will make their buildings more livable – and make the apartments more valuable. Instead of weighing conventional options, such as a gym, community room or bike storage, those boards might want to consider adding or expanding an amenity whose value has been heightened by the pandemic: green space.
“Five or six years ago, I said that living life in New York without outdoor space would not be considered luxury anymore, which was quite controversial at the time,” Eran Chen, the founding principal of the architecture firm ODA, tells The New York Times. (ODA was recently featured in Habitat for its sleek lobby renovation at the Chelsea Mercantile condominium.) “I actually believe, even more today, that there’s going to be a major shift in what’s considered luxury, and that buying any luxury real estate in New York without outdoor space will be considered unacceptable.”
This trend might inspire co-op and condo boards to consider turning the rooftop or grounds into usable communal space. And it is a trend. From July 1, 2020, through the end of June 2021, sales of new-development units with a private terrace increased by 42.3% across the city, and sales of units with a balcony increased about 40%, compared with two years earlier, before the pandemic, according to the real estate data firm Marketproof. Sales in buildings with a communal roof deck also increased nearly 19%.
“It turns out that urban living is still what people want,” says Kael Goodman, the chief executive of Marketproof. “But the question is: How do people want their spaces to look, and what amenities do they want in their building? That’s changed somewhat.”
Translation: boards should forget installing a golf simulator and figure out how to turn the rooftop into a space for grilling, socializing, exercise or some other communal activity.
Marketproof’s data dovetails with what Kirsten Jordan, an agent with Douglas Elliman, is seeing on the ground. Recently, she says, she has been working with more buyers who consider a private outdoor space essential. “People used to look at those spaces, and say, ‘Oh, yeah, this is really nice, but do you really use it?’” she says. Those days are history. One of her clients is Kristen Barr, who is hunting for a one-bedroom, as she and her husband look to relocate from San Francisco.
“I’m really hoping to find something with some outdoor space. It’s close to a nonnegotiable,” says Ms. Barr, 40, who has struggled to find an acceptable home. “At a minimum, I need a rooftop or something shared, if I can’t have my own outdoor space.”
Even once concerns about COVID-19 begin to wane, many in the real estate industry expect the emphasis on outdoor space to remain, as buyers recalibrate how they want to live.
“Just for quality of life, having outdoor space is really nice, and I think people are realizing that, now that we’ve all been spending more time at home,” says Whitney Kraus, the chief architecture and design officer at Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing. “We have definitely been having strategic conversations with developers about attaching private outdoor space to more units. Our goal is to try to get projects we’re working on, going forward, to have 50 percent of units with private outdoor space.”
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