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Manhattan Loft Guy

Sep. 15, 2006 - How much is that doorman in the doorway? What owners pay for staff

 
what can you do with two-tenths of a doorman?
Yesterday’s NY Sun has an article about doormen that focuses on costs. They estimate that 24-houir coverage costs about $160,000 pre year (for “4.2” doormen). Shared among 100 owners in a building is only $133 per month per unit, but is $665/mo per unit in a 20 unit building.
 
doormen do not work alone
Of course, lots of buildings that have 24-hour coverage have other staff as well – at a minimum, a part-time superintendent. But The Sun talks about a building with 40 employees (that would be for a resident manager, doormen, concierge, porters, and handymen out the proverbial wazoo … everything but a candlestick maker). Figure a million and a half dollars for that staff – at a minimum. That is a big nut to carry, even among several hundred units. (Over $500/mo per unit just for staff in a 250 unit building.)
 
feeling squeezed at the holidays?
Then there is the delicate matter of the vig (I mean tips for the staff at the holidays). Lots of people I know tip a couple hundred bucks in even small buildings with small staffs – on top of a holiday “bonus” from “the building”. In a large building? The sky is the limit.
 
[one anonymous resident] estimates he collectively spent roughly $3,000 on year-end gifts for about 40 building employees last year, including the superintendent and maintenance staff.
 
For lots of buyers, the cost of staff is almost irrelevant – they must have the people running to the curb with an umbrella when they pull up in a cab in the rain, or the engineer to change the light bulb immediately.
 
“priceless”?
With those people I think it is hard to say “what the doorman [etc] is worth” because they simply will not buy in a building that lacks the requisite staff. And they will to count on changing a non-staff building to a staffed building, because it is very hard to get a group of residents used to a certain level of ‘service’ to radically increase their monthly expenses to add more service. Not to mention that many smaller buildings literally do not have the lobby space to accommodate any staff.
 
but not ‘true’ loft-dwellers
Most of those people are not loft buyers – at last not ‘classic’ loft buyers. But that is for another post.
 
© Sandy Mattingly 2006
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Mar. 22, 2006 - Lofts waxed as fashionable; will they wane? (NY Times article 3.19.06)

The March 19, 2006 NY Times wondered on the front page of the real estate section about Manhattan apartment fashion Is Prewar Losing Its Status to Glass? http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/realestate/19cov.html

 

In contrasting classic prewar styling with "glass-wrapped [new condo] towers", the Times claims the newbies have created "an entirely new category of Manhattan real estate". The thrust of the article is that this New Style will -- or maybe won't -- trump (no pun intended) the grand prewar classics as the places to be. (Hint: the great prewars will always be great for the people who like that sort of thing.)

 

But the Times makes an interesting point about trendy real estate development, and whether the 'trendy' will last. In many ways the success of early loft conversions in the 1980s and 1990s were the trendsetters of their day, leading directly to the Nouveau Condominiums profiled by the Times.

 

Loft living then (and still) was a significantly different way to use space than "apartment" living (prewar, postwar or no-war), and so attracted many of the Art-erati, which popularized lofts for the next generation of buyers. Loft living became fashionable, and fashions do change.

 

However...

 

I think the great take-away from the Times piece is the recognition that the things that make classic prewars "classic" will remain (the wonderful 'flow' of rooms, boulevard locations, the proportions, and the relatively high ceilings) so that there is likely to be a market segment willing to pay for these elements into the future.

 

Not so -- necessarily -- the slapdash construction from the 1960s through 1980s in buildings that were built as rentals and converted to coops or condos. The buildings from this era that will suffer in the market personify "cookie cutter", with low ceilings (often 'popcorn') and no sense of proportion.

 

But many loft buildings contain units that are "classic" (vast, flexible space, 'character', high ceilings, much light), so they are likely to attract a market segment "always".

 

That's my story, at least, and I am sticking to it.

 

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Sandy Mattingly is Manhattan Loft Guy; now with The Corcoran Group (http://corcoran.com/ ; but see the disclaimer at the bottom of the page), he can be reached most easily at Sandy@ManhattanLoftGuy.com or 917.902.2491, and followed on Twitter @ManhattnLoftGuy (note "mis-spelling"). After 7+ years, the blog has moved. Links here on RealTown will work for the foreseeable future, but new posts (and all the old content) has migrated to ManhattanLoftGuy.com.

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