Remember when you could smoke pretty much everywhere in NYC? At the office, in restaurants and bars and movie theaters, on subway platforms, in airports and train stations (you couldn’t even see the constellations on Grand Central’s ceiling, so thick was its coating of the tar!); in my lifetime–and as late as mid-1990s–all of the above was fair game for smokers. And while exactly no one is clamoring for a return to public indoor smoking, the giant real estate developer Related sparked quite a bit of debate last week when it announced that, as of next month, all new leases at their NYC rental apartments would come with a no-smoking clause.
That’s right, smokers: rent from Related and you’re not allowed to light up in your own home (no, not even on your terrace). That’s right, non-smokers: rent from Related and you’ll never have your neighbor’s second-hand smoke wafting into YOUR own home. Is this fair? An invasion of privacy? A public health service? Simply a way for Related to save money (it’s much more expensive to prep an apartment for a new renter if the previous tenant was a smoker)? Personally, I was a long-time smoker, and have since been a non-smoker for a number of years, so can personally identify with both sides of the issue. And current Related tenants can smoke until they have to/want to re-sign their leases. But with rentals getting snatched up in seconds and smoking among NYC adults down to about 15%, I expect other big landlords will follow Related’s lead.
Related also made news last week by launching a bike share program for tenants of ten of its NYC rental apartment buildings. Managed by the bike share company Zagster, Related’s newest luxury rental amenity allows tenants two free hours of bike time (it’s $5 for each additional hour) a day. Since bikes have to be returned to the same location (aka, your home), the Related/Zagster model obviously isn’t designed for commuters, but for quick errands or a recreational ride along the river, you could see how this could be great. With more than 41,000 annual members already signed up for the Citi Bike program, the bike share concept has clearly struck a chord with New Yorkers, so I would expect to see this amenity cropping up in other NYC rental apartment buildings soon.