John Rakolta decided to buy his one-bedroom at 205 East 59th Street because he fell in love with the apartment. But it wouldn’t be a stretch to say the building’s common spaces were big selling points. The outdoor terrace and “puppy park” there promised the 24-year-old, who owns a British bulldog, more opportunities to come face-to-face with his neighbors. “New York can be a lonely place,” he explains. “I wanted to live in an environment that fosters a sense of community.”
He’s not alone: Young, single buyers and renters are flocking to buildings with spaces that bring residents together. Many of them log long hours at work and have little time to meet new people, so choosing to live in a place that cultivates a collegial atmosphere makes it easier to form friendships. “It’s a big city, and living in one of these buildings just makes it more navigable,” says broker Samantha Kleier Forbes. At the Court House, a glitzy rental building in Brooklyn, tenants can congregate in an enormous courtyard designed for hanging out, says developer Jed Walentas. Instead of relegating the laundry room to the basement, the builder of the Orion (pictured), a luxe new tower in the theater district, has placed it on the 29th floor, next to a billiard room where neighbors can play pool while killing time during the rinse cycle; they can also nosh at the free breakfasts on weekday mornings, or have drinks on the loggia. (Orion buyers even have their own online forum.) Residents of the financial district’s Downtown Club, which has only studios, lofts, and one-bedrooms, can host parties at the screening room or have drinks at the building’s bar (BYOB only, though). Sales haven’t begun yet, but already it’s received “tremendous response” from interested parties, many in their twenties and thirties, says Richard Cantor of marketing agent Cantor-Pecorella.
There’s another benefit to a place teeming with singles, of course. “This is better than JDate,” says Kleier Forbes. “Your blind date is your next-door neighbor.” That is, if he or she is available: Kian Kashani describes 90 Washington, where he lives, as a New York version of Melrose Place. Alas, the 25-year-old is already taken. “If I didn’t already have a girlfriend,” he admits, “it would be a bonus.”
Actor-singer Rubén Blades has sold his apartment on West Houston Street for $3.26 million, according to city records. He’s also leaving town for a while: The former U.N. goodwill ambassador, who won a Grammy in February for Across 110th Street, is taking a break to serve as tourism minister in his native Panama. (He ran for president in 1994, finishing third.)
Uptown, the Kips Bay Decorator Show House has proved itself a highly effective marketing gimmick once again. This year, the event took place in the townhouse at 54 East 64th Street that was the longtime home of Arthur Carter’s New York Observer. Sold last fall for $9.5 million, the fetid, fratty house was transformed into a palace of femininity for the show, and the new owner has put it on the market for $20 million, with Stribling’s C.B. Whyte and Shel Joblin. Carter, for his part, is doing just fine on another deal, for the house at 28 East 78th Street that he bought in 1998 for $7.6 million and is now offering at $34 million. It’s rumored that he has a deal with an unnamed hedge-fund manager for several million less than the asking price. Corcoran’s Neal Sroka and Leighton Candler declined
—S. Jhoanna Robledo and Deborah Schoeneman
243 West 70th Street, Apartment 9B
One-bedroom, one-bath, 800-square-foot co-op.
Asking Price: $649,000.
Brokers: Barak Dunayer and Catherine Holmes, Central Place Realty.
With southern exposures and a great location, this is a particularly desirable prewar one-bedroom. Broker Catherine Holmes also notes that the co-op board is said to be generous, allowing pets and guarantors—which may be why her price is higher than our panelists’.
Nick Rafello, Century 21 William B. May:
“You can tell this is a good board,” Rafello says. “They’ve taken care of the common areas,” like the marble entry. Though the kitchen looks “prefab,” prewar details—floors, moldings—are intact.
His assessment: $619,000.
Denise Rosner, Bellmarc Realty:
Though the excellent P.S. 199 is across the street, Rosner says that won’t affect the price: “It isn’t a family apartment.” Besides, she points out, the bath is “updated, but I’d hardly call it renovated,” and the old moldings badly need stripping.
Her assessment: $599,000.
Joseph Benz, Metro Spire:
Unlike in many prewars, “the closets are great. They stack high and are deep,” says Benz. “It’s also the top floor—no one lives above you.”
His assessment: $625,000.