Luxury apartments pivot to virtual activities

Events foster community, while attracting high-paying residents

525 West 52nd Street (Credit: Google Maps and iStock)
525 West 52nd Street (Credit: Google Maps and iStock)

About three months into quarantine, residents trapped in small apartments are going stir-crazy. That is unless they live in a luxury apartment with an in-house lifestyle director.

Decorating doors to celebrate graduations, virtual cooking classes and zoom workouts, all organized by apartment staff, indicate that, although outdoor seating in a pandemic may seal the deal for some, a rooftop terrace and gym is no longer enough for developers to lease out high-price buildings. They must now also offer an experience.

Peter Sheehan, resident experience manager at 525 West 52nd Street recently put together 35 baggies of ingredients needed for a mixology class. Residents picked up the bags in the lobby then returned to their apartments to participate virtually.

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“It helps them navigate trickier times, understanding that there are people here supporting them,” Sheehan said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Such amenities aren’t new to luxury apartments. Before coronavirus caused New York City to shutdown, Taconic Partners, 525 West 52nd Street’s developer, was spending $50,000 to $100,000 a year on amenities programming, according to vice president Andrew Schwartz.

For an $85 fee, residents could use a variety of amenity spaces, including a library, fitness center and golf simulator lounge. The areas have since been closed and the fee has been suspended, but virtual entertainment continues. [WSJ]Sasha Jones