Like Prince Edward in Mark Twain’s 1881 novel The Prince and the Pauper, today’s buyers of Manhattan’s top real estate can become jaded when everything on the market carries the luxury tag – and the word itself starts to lose its meaning.
“[Developers] have to know that even the people that are buying $20 million apartments want to have dinner for forty, fifty bucks on a Monday or Tuesday night,” restaurateur Marc Murphy opined this morning during a REBNY panel on luxury living, moderated by The Real Deal’s publisher Amir Korangy.
“What is your idea of luxury and what is your clients’ idea of luxury?” Korangy asked a handful of panelists who gathered at Related Companies’ luxury rental MiMA tower at 42nd Street this morning to discuss the lifestyle experiences today’s high-end consumers look for.
Leonard Steinberg, president of Urban Compass, said many luxury items out there – say, a $100 million apartment or a $10,000 martini at The Algonquin Hotel – are merely gimmicks masquerading as splendors.
“When you have two or three billion dollars or even $100 million, you’ve really won in life. You cannot spend all that money. And that’s really how you get a $10,000 martini, because, what’s next?,” he said. “So when luxury keeps escalating and escalating and spiraling upwards, at some point you have to ask, ‘What is really luxury and what is gimmick-luxury?’”
Sitting inside the full-court basketball court at MiMA Related’s rental tower, the panel also included Andrew Goldberg, a partner in hospitality brands such as the Lavo night club and Artichoke Pizza, and Jeffery Brodsky, president of Related’s property management division. Brodsky said Related’s properties – and Hudson Yards, in particular – are extensions of the mixed-use philosophy that proved so successful at the Time Warner Center.
“People are working toward work-life-play consolidations,” he said.
Murphy, whose Landmarc Restaurant serves moderately priced meals aside other Time Warner Center eateries such as Per Se and Porter House New York, said that before he opened his doors the building lacked a full range of dining experiences.
“It was all very luxury, and all of a sudden they were like, ‘Oh shit, there’s nowhere to eat,” he said. “I heard this all the time, like ‘I can’t get a salad and go back to work.’”
Murphy said he defines luxury as accessibility to different options, the kinds that will be harder and harder to come by unless the landlords of places like Hudson Yards are willing to cut deals with food-and-beverage operators that make sense for their bottom lines.
“I would have to literally sell like a bag of cocaine with every coffee to be able to pay the rent,” he joked.