Real Estate

Condo Amenities Shift: Less Size, More Substance

New York's luxury condo market shifts from expansive to meaningful amenities, reflecting broader real estate trends and changing consumer values.

By Doug Elli

5/15, 07:04 EDT
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Key Takeaway

  • The era of expansive condo amenities is declining, with new projects focusing on smaller, more meaningful features over sheer scale.
  • High amenity costs and changing buyer preferences are driving developers to offer more targeted, sustainable amenities tailored to specific demographics.
  • Exclusive services remain crucial, but developers are exploring cost efficiencies like shared spaces and third-party vendors to maintain appeal without escalating fees.

The Evolution of Condo Amenities in New York's Luxury Market

In the heart of New York, the Waldorf-Astoria stands as a beacon of luxury, not just for its historical significance but for offering condo buyers the chance to share amenities with the likes of John F. Kennedy. This level of opulence, including a library curated by a society founded by Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis, represents the zenith of the amenities race in New York's condo market. However, as industry experts note, this golden age of expansive amenity spaces, which could otherwise accommodate hundreds of apartments, is on the decline. The shift towards smaller, more meaningful amenities reflects a broader trend in residential development, where the focus is increasingly on quality over quantity.

A Shift in Market Dynamics

The current market dynamics, as highlighted by Peter Bazeli of Weitzman and Kelly Mack of Corcoran Sunshine, suggest a significant transformation in the landscape of new condo developments. With developers filing fewer applications for large projects and the amenities race cooling down, prospective buyers with a penchant for lavish amenities face a narrowing window of opportunity. This trend is not confined to New York alone but is part of a larger narrative affecting real estate markets across the country, including the industrial sector in the Inland Empire and the office market in San Francisco, where shifts in demand and oversupply are reshaping investment and development strategies.

Rethinking Amenities for a New Era

The recalibration of amenities in luxury condos, from sprawling pools to more intimate, crafted spaces, mirrors a broader reevaluation of what luxury means in a post-pandemic world. Developers like Miki Naftali are tailoring amenities to the specific demographics and lifestyles of neighborhoods, indicating a move towards more personalized, community-oriented spaces. This approach is not only more sustainable but also aligns with changing consumer preferences, where the value of service and the quality of shared spaces often outweighs their sheer size.

The Broader Implications of Changing Amenities

The transition in the amenities landscape has broader implications for the real estate market. As seen in the industrial and office sectors, with examples from the Inland Empire's oversupply issues to San Francisco's daring "office resort" projects amidst high vacancy rates, the real estate market is undergoing a period of adjustment. These sectors are grappling with their own versions of the amenities race, balancing the lure of high-end features against the realities of market demand and cost sustainability. The challenge for developers across all sectors is to innovate within these constraints, finding new ways to attract and retain occupants without succumbing to the pitfalls of overextension.

A New Paradigm for Luxury Living

The evolution of amenities in New York's condo market, from the Waldorf-Astoria's historic allure to the tailored experiences of future developments, reflects a broader shift in luxury living. This shift is towards more meaningful, sustainable, and community-focused amenities that enhance the quality of life without necessitating vast, underutilized spaces. As developers navigate this new landscape, the emphasis on service, craftsmanship, and neighborhood-specific amenities is likely to define the next generation of luxury real estate, setting a new standard for what it means to live well in the city.

Street Views

  • Peter Bazeli, Weitzman (Neutral on the trend of amenities in condo developments):

    "The amenities race should abate. Designed well with craftsmanship, they can set the right tone of quality without needing to include a pool with a lifeguard."

  • Kelly Mack, Corcoran Sunshine (Neutral on future condo amenity offerings):

    "These 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of amenity spaces won’t be seen much longer. People looking for that lifestyle will need to buy now."

Management Quotes

  • Andre Zotoff, CEO of Strategic Hotels & Resorts:

    "In some condominium buildings, they have a pool which is really just a large bathtub... We had high-end French designers [Jean-Louis Deniot for the condo and amenities, and Pierre-Yves Rochon for the hotel], so we didn’t cut any corners."

  • Miki Naftali, Developer:

    "Amenities are neighborhood-specific. The demographic of buyers in Williamsburg is more trendy than on the Upper West Side, which is more family-oriented."