Style amenities lure foreign buyers to a Central Park South property.
A seven-unit condo conversion at 22 Central Park South offers a unique amenity—a concierge with a hotline to Bergdorf Goodman.
Landscaped terraces, spas, and golf simulators may have attracted condo buyers during the last boom, but as the city’s housing market becomes flooded with foreign buyers, high-end buildings are changing the types of amenities on offer. Today, services are increasingly devised to cater to the pied-à-terre set, those people who come to New York for short periods of time.
For instance, at 22 Central Park South, a seven-unit condo conversion near Fifth Avenue, developers are providing a perk for those whose jet-setting lifestyles mean that shopping, interior decorating, or grooming often needs to be done on the quick. A special hotline will connect the concierge of the Beaux-Arts building to the staff at Bergdorf Goodman, the nearby luxury department store. Somebody flying in from Paris and needing a gown for a charity event could place a call in the afternoon and have one delivered in time for a party that evening. A stylist could also drop by the apartment to apply makeup.
At 22 Central Park South, living rooms feature coffered ceilings, decorative fireplaces, and expansive views of Central Park.
Savvy locals who take pride in running these kinds of errands themselves—or who just enjoy a stroll through Bergdorf’s elegantly stocked aisles—may not get too excited about this kind of pampering, but the condo’s developer, the Elad Group, is betting that the multinational homeowner will come running. “Everybody looking at a home here is a worldwide traveler,” says Samantha Sax, an Elad executive vice president, “and our buyers are really Bergdorf buyers.”
Oren Alexander, a Douglas Elliman broker who isn’t affiliated with 22 Central Park South but works with many overseas clients, believes the project will be successful because it’s in a popular corner of Midtown. “Fifty-seventh Street does not have appeal for everyone,” he says, citing its congestion and noise. “The pied-à-terre buyer wants to run in Central Park and see the horses.”
A sleek, modern kitchen with glass cabinetry, marble countertops, and built-in wine storage.
A first-of-its-kind offering for Bergdorf, which opened in 1901 and has had its main store at Fifth Avenue and West 58th Street since 1928, the 22 Central Park South service also allows residents to enjoy one-on-one consultations with designers from the store’s seventh-floor home collection. If buyers like what they see in the condo’s on-site model unit, they could procure similar items from the home shop at Bergdorf, says Andrew Mandell, a Bergdorf vice president; the consultations are free, though buyers are on the hook for any housewares. Already one buyer has inquired about getting vintage art and history books for their own shelves, Mandell says. “It’s a very interesting experience, because we never really get to see products we buy for the store end up in a home.”
The strategy seems to be paying off. As of early September, four of the building’s seven apartments have sold, its brokers say, adding that international buyers are in the mix, but until deals close and deeds are filed with the city, the provenance of the buyers is tough to confirm.
While sales in the building, which is adjacent to The Plaza Hotel, an Elad condo conversion project from a decade ago, are on an upswing, the condo, despite its glamorous neighbor, went through a few struggles. The original marketer, Brown Harris Stevens, was dropped a few months after sales began last fall and replaced by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group. Prices on some units, which take up entire floors and feature casement windows and decorative fireplaces, appear to have been discounted, like the fifth-floor unit, which dropped to $7.8 million from $9.8 million. Overall, in early September, the average asking price was about $5,000 a square foot.
A soothing palette of neutrals in a master bedroom.
Still, prices at 22 Central Park South can seem steep for the neighborhood. In late summer, the 22 co-ops and condos for sale on Central Park South had an average asking price of $3.3 million, according to streeteasy.com. Those apartments ranged from $695,000, or about $1,350 a square foot, for a studio at Trump Parc, at 106 CPS, the data show, to $26.9 million, or $4,800 a foot, for a four-bedroom at The Plaza.
Though what are now considered basic building amenities like pools, sun decks, and children’s playrooms, may appeal to international buyers, newer offerings, like the Bergdorf concierge service, are designed with them specifically in mind. For example, 432 Park Avenue, an 84-story spire in Midtown from Macklowe Properties and CIM Group, offers an in-house performance venue that globe-trotting executives might use to stage TED-style events. And because so many of the city’s recent super-tall apartment towers are hotelcondos, foreign buyers, who have been estimated to make up as much as a third of the buying market for new condos, may feel uniquely catered to anyway.
At One57, a 90-story high-rise on West 57th Street from Extell Development Company, which sits atop a Park Hyatt, the hotel staff is versed in multiple languages. At the same time, the services provided by concierges, who have become fixtures of many of the major new condos, have dramatically expanded, brokers say. No longer do they just score Book of Mormon tickets: Now, they “plan honeymoons in Bora Bora,” says Céline Bossart, an executive with Luxury Attaché, a concierge provider for 170 East End Avenue, One Madison, and 100 Eleventh Avenue.
Even if not all concierges are created equally—some can be glorified doormen—they can take the stress out of hiring a caterer, reserving a limousine, or finding somebody to fix a computer, which is especially helpful for part-time residents, says Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty, a luxury brokerage. “It can take the New York experience to a whole other level,” she says.
photography by Evan JosEph