Big-name buyers opt for small luxury buildings

From left: Exterior of 18 Gramercy Park, rendering of a unit
From left: Exterior of 18 Gramercy Park, rendering of a unit

More high-end buyers in New York City are opting to live in buildings with fewer — but spacious — units, according to agents and developers.

Although big apartments in small buildings are common stock in Europe, it wasn’t until rezoning in places like Lower Manhattan limited how high developers could build that smaller buildings became popular, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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But the units don’t come cheap. Take, for instance, the 18-story 18 Gramercy Park, which ranked the highest-priced new project in 2013 averaging more than $4,000 per square foot. Once made up of 200 studio apartments, the building was converted by William Zeckendorf into 16 luxury units, including a mansionette. When they hit the market, prices started at a whopping $9.5 million, according to the Journal.

However, it may be a better deal for developers than buyers. Buildings with fewer units usually offer fewer amenities. Moreover, the cost of those amenities, like the salary of a doorman, are higher since they’re spread across fewer tenants, the Journal reported. The same problem arises when dealing with the cost of repairs.

If “there’s something wrong with the structure, you’re dividing it by a smaller number of people that have to pay,” Donna Olshan, head of Olshan Realty, told the Journal. [WSJ] — Angela Hunt