Uncommon charges

How much do owners have to shell out to maintain Manhattan’s priciest homes?

TRD New York /
Sep.September 06, 2014 07:00 AM

Buying the property is only the beginning.

Once a buyer has laid out millions — many millions — of dollars for a prime piece of the NYC pie, they still have to shell out big bucks to maintain their palatial home. After all, living in the lap of luxury doesn’t come cheap: condo fees, taxes, over-the-top amenities and, of course, the staff that keeps these glittering properties in tip-top shape can add up faster than you can say, “show me the money!”

Read on for a look at how much living in Manhattan’s poshest pads will cost you — and what you actually get for all those pretty pennies.

15 Central Park West
Common charges: $7,872
Monthly taxes: $10,273

Nobody expects buying an apartment at 15 Central Park West, the Robert A.M. Stern-designed tower that’s home to a slew of bold-faced names, to be cheap.

Until mid-July, the priciest unit on the market in the building — where former Citigroup head Sanford Weill broke a record when he sold his penthouse to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in late 2011 for $88 million — was a $65 million, 6,000-square-foot five-bedroom.

Though temporarily off the market, the property is the only two-unit combination to be listed since the building launched. The 35th-floor spread has been gut renovated, has panoramic views in three directions and has its own elevator landing, according to the listing, which was held by Paula Del Nunzio of Brown Harris Stevens.

Would-be buyers can expect to pay monthly common charges of $7,872, plus $10,273 in monthly taxes — for a total of $18,145 per month. That pays for more than just magnificent park views. In addition to the building’s daily upkeep and staff, the monthly maintenance covers the property’s many amenities such as a gym, movie theater, billiards room and, of course, a restaurant.

The 14,000-square-foot fitness center, managed by Wright Fit, has state-of-the-art machines, including a Power Plate, which vibrates to help develop muscle tone — a feature most public gyms don’t have, according to Core broker Emily Beare, who has handled rentals and sales in the building.

Meanwhile, the 75-foot lap pool, located in the fitness center, is lit with skylights from a reflecting pool on the floor above. And the 20-seat movie theater is available for anything from kids’ parties to Super Bowl get-togethers to private movie screenings.

In addition, the restaurant also caters private events hosted by residents in their homes, said Beare, who added that the restaurant prices are not over-the-top.

“It’s not astronomical,” she said. “You’re not paying a premium for having it in your apartment building. The prices are in keeping with what a normal restaurant would be — it isn’t necessarily $100 per person.”

The building also has a floor devoted to studio apartments, which owners can purchase for their staff. Those, of course, come with additional common charges and taxes.

Common charges: $7,095
Monthly taxes: $500

The priciest pad up for grabs at Extell Development’s One57, a $41 million condominium on the 62nd floor measuring just over 4,400 square feet, is actually not that outrageous on a monthly basis — relatively speaking, that is.

The unit will cost its new owner just $7,095 in monthly common charges and a little over $500 in monthly taxes, according to StreetEasy. The unusually low taxes for such a pricey property are thanks to a controversial 421a tax abatement passed in Albany last year.

The monthly fees cover the building’s plush amenities, including a private fitness center and yoga studio, an indoor pool with live music pumped in — under water — from nearby Carnegie Hall, private dining, a full catering kitchen and screening and performance rooms. The building has also earmarked $1.57 million for salaries, wages and benefits for its 18 employees, according to its filings. The building also projects that it will spend $2.5 million for heat and hot water annually, $1.43 million on electricity and nearly $1 million on “services and supplies.”

Unlike other Manhattan condos with on-site hotels, however, residents are only charged for hotel services like massages if they use them.

“I did not personally receive any pushback from my numerous customers regarding maintenance fees at all,” said Sotheby’s broker Nikki Field, who has sold units in the building ranging from $8.9 million to $50 million. “The carrying costs are far lower than all the other in-the-ground competition. Most other hotel condos like the Sherry Netherland or The Pierre have exorbitant monthlies due to the included hotel services whether the owner uses them or not.”

The Pierre Hotel
Maintenance charges: $42,720/month

The priciest unit at the luxury co-op residences atop The Pierre Hotel was owned by late stock titan Martin Zweig. The triplex, which takes up the entire 41st, 42nd and 43rd floors, is on the market for $95 million — down from an earlier ask of $125 million.

The penthouse, which features five master bedrooms and a 75-foot long salon and dining area that occupies the original hotel’s ballroom, comes with maintenance charges of $42,720 per month, according to StreetEasy. Those fees include a range of amenities at the hotel, along with the service of two full-time staff — a “houseboy and maid,” said Brenda Powers of Sotheby’s International Realty, who holds the listing along with Elizabeth Sample and Serena Boardman.

“The setup at The Pierre is a very interesting structure because the shareholders also own part of the hotel,” Powers said. The Pierre, which includes 70 residences and just over 200 hotel rooms, is owned by a partnership comprised of all the shareholders of the co-op — that is to say, the residents who live there. The hotel rooms are then sublet to Taj Hotels, which operates and rents them.

A $24 million mortgage on the building that the co-op owners are responsible for accounts for roughly half of the shareholders’ monthly charges. Real estate taxes are built into the mortgage payments, explained Brown Harris Stevens broker Martha Kramer, who has an $18.25 million listing for a three-bedroom apartment in the building. The monthly maintenance charge for that unit is $10,000, which pays for twice-daily maid service, an additional “heavy cleaning” of the apartment once a month, as well as hotel discounts for guests and concierge services, including pet walking — meaning, not just dogs.

“I’ve even seen them walking cats,” Kramer said.

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