You walk by these Manhattan rental apartment buildings all the time, in prime neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, Kip’s Bay, Chelsea, Gramercy, and the Upper East Side, the ones that probably seemed all fresh and contemporary when they first opened their doors in the 1960s and, especially, the 1970s, but now can’t shake their fatigue. The outside looks dowdy, or like it’s trying too hard; the interiors suffer from all of those “early-modern” indignities like Formica countertops and popcorn ceilings.
Meanwhile, new, actually-contemporary Manhattan rental apartment buildings have sprouted up all around town in the last decade, with all of their granite and glass–not to mention today’s de rigueur services and amenities packages–making these dated residents feel even more, well, dated. And even in New York City’s record rental market, the landlords and development companies of such properties are feeling it.
Unsurprisingly, as reported in two separate Manhattan rental apartment profiles recently, many of said landlords are not sitting idly by and watching as their once-coveted buildings slip into irrelevancy. The Wall Street Journal had a piece on the practice of gut renovating the interiors of many Manhattan rental rental apartments in buildings “of a certain age” as they become vacant, and at the same time adding what have become expected amenities to the public areas.
To give one specific example, the Silverstone Property Group bought the creaky Clarendon, a 128-unit Kip’s Bay rental apartment, and is installing a courtyard (with Wi-Fi, natch), as well as adding a sun deck and a recreation room with pool tables and flatscreen TVs.
Silverstone is even renaming the place–it’ll be the Grayson–to further distance its image with musty recent past. Of course, all of this renovation comes with a price, and the Clarendon… excuse me, the Grayson, will see it’s newest rentals hit the market at the neighborhood-average $4000 or so for a one-bedroom rental apartment.
Another story about the recent “rental upgrade” game came in the Daily News, in an article that focused almost exclusively on the Upper West Side rental apartment building, The Windermere, and what the willingness to invest in the building said about the changes afoot in that part of the neighborhood, in the 80s and 90s.
The Windermere is hardly an unfortunately “modern” building: built in 1926 and located on 92nd and West End, this Upper West Side rental apartment hadn’t been given any love in decades, until the landlord realized that the area had become, if not exactly “chic”, certainly more attractive to the kind of big-money renter who used to look exclusively downtown.
So, like several other spruced-up Manhattan rental buildings, the Windermere now has 21st-century amenities within its lovely (and cleaned!) pre-war bones, including an indoor pool, a big children’s playroom, a concierge, a spa with treatment rooms and lockers, space for yoga, a complete fitness center and two rooftop decks with a garden, a terrace and a lounge. And with rents go nowhere but up, expect the trend to continue.
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