Well-Being Facilities, Designs From Top Pros and Sky-High Perks: The Amenities of 2019


The competition for high-end condo buyers has seen developers offer splashy, even improbable extras, like the elevators that ferry cars up to residents’ apartments in the 60-floor Porsche Design Tower in Miami. But one of the latest trends in condo amenities is less about flash than serenity.

“Well-being” is the mantra in amenities right now, and it likely will be for much if not all of 2019, inspiring such perks as an outdoor yoga platform in West Hollywood to an adult treehouse on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, from a tranquility garden in south Florida to restorative baths and saunas in London’s Belgravia.

“People are very much focused on, as they have been, gym-related things— things that are good for the body,” said David Bistricer, founder of Clipper Equity, which with the Chetrit Group is developing Gramercy Square in Manhattan. “What we’re seeing now, is the mind—mental health—and taking time off from all the different things that are capturing our attention and competing.”

At Gramercy Square, developers consulted with integrative medicine and fitness firm La Palestra on the design of the 18,000-square-foot subterranean amenities club, opening in early 2019. Connecting four residential buildings, the club is meant to promote a sense of community with common lounge and dining areas as well as a sky-lit pool and gym. There will be a yoga room and, for the centerpiece, a studio designed and staffed by representatives of MNDFL, a meditation center in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, that outdoor yoga deck is a feature at 1030 Kings, a new boutique condominium in Los Angeles. It shares a view of the Hollywood Hills with an outdoor terrace, with lounge seating and a fire pit situated just above.

In the extensive gardens and outdoor spaces at the 80-story One Manhattan Square overlooking the East River, opening in early 2019, a treehouse will be just one of the spots to which residents can retreat—another, a traditional teahouse—in what will be one of the New York City’s largest private parks.

At 2000 Ocean in Hallandale Beach, residents will be able to meditate among lemon trees in the tranquility garden or grab a bite at the private Oceanside Café and Juice Bar, managed by wellness and fitness firm The Wright Fit. Chelsea Barracks, which will be built around seven traditional London garden squares, is but one example of the luxurious spas featuring treatments, hydrotherapy pools, and saunas inspired by Turkish-style baths known as hammams.

“It’s all about wellness,” says Gramercy Square’s Bistricer of the latest trend. “It’s something people are very much interested in and trying to get more of, to understand how this could help them lead a better life.”

Some Flashy Amenities Remain

The new turn toward mindfulness doesn’t mean developers will abandon other enticements designed to amuse, to thrill, or provide play time. Private HD theaters and communal dining rooms outfitted with chef’s kitchens for entertaining are practically de rigueur these days. The newly occupied Ten50 tower in downtown Los Angeles even has a rooftop drone landing pad.

Jim Linsley, president of GID Development Group, said his team considered “the way people want to live, or could live, in a high-rise urban environment” to come up with the enhancements at Waterline Square, a complex consisting of three towers, a public park and 100,000-square-foot underground amenities center under construction on five acres overlooking the Hudson River in Midtown Manhattan. Closings on apartments are expected to being in spring 2019.

The offerings cover about every imaginable want or need that residents of the 1,000-plus apartments might have and include a group of  “creative suites” for indoor gardening, recording music, making videos and creating art. At the other end of the spectrum, for sporty types, there is an indoor soccer field, a full basketball court, a tennis court, a 30-foot rock climbing wall, and a skateboard half-pipe.

“Given the size of our project and our three buildings, you could create a sort of community dynamic where there are various sports leagues for some of these spaces,” Mr. Linsley said, “so every Saturday there could be a soccer game or a set of soccer games going on. Same with the basketball court.”

The idea of a mini-city within a big city has a homebody appeal, he said. “Of course we want them to explore outside our project, all the great things that New York has to offer, but it’s nice to know that all of these things are housed within our project in a way where someone who wants to spend more time at home can.”

Sky-High Amenities

More and more new luxury buildings are taking amenities out of the basement and planting them on valuable real estate upstairs, and sometimes even on the penthouse level.

At Quay Tower, a boutique building on the Brooklyn Heights waterfront that will have just three to five condos on each floor, the views of Manhattan, the East River and downtown Brooklyn are a huge draw, so two residents’ lounges featuring an entertainment center, barbecues and a marble-clad indoor-outdoor fireplace are being placed on the penthouse level.

The building, which will open in summer 2019,  recently broke the borough’s residential price record when a single buyer bought two of the three penthouse apartments to combine, said Molly Townsend of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing and director of sales for Quay Tower, so the developers knew they were giving up valuable real estate. “Knowing that the views are just spectacular from the rooftop, and from the units themselves up and down the building, they wanted to offer that to everyone,” she said. “It was important for them that everyone had access.”

At Mckenzie Seattle, which opened in late 2018, the penthouse floor, the 40th, houses a number of amenities for residents’ use, including a conference room, entertainment area, and a lounge with a fireplace overlooking Puget Sound. A wraparound observation deck affords views of the Space Needle and downtown, as does the outdoor dog run outfitted with artificial turf.

This reach-for-the-sky impulse will also be reflected in downtown Miami’s Aston Martin Residences, a first for the legendary car maker, opening in 2022. Alejandro Aljanati, chief marketing officer at G&G Business Developments, said the placement of the building’s perks to the high reaches of the building—prime  floors 52 to 55—make them “Sky Amenities.”

“We decided give everyone living in the tower the same opportunity to enjoy the best combination of the views,” Mr. Aljanati said, adding that the craftsmanship of the building will “reflect the DNA of Aston Martin,” raising expectations.  “The main reason was that, and thinking our clients would really appreciate that lifestyle.” Another perk will be the free yacht service that will ferry residents from downtown to nearby beaches.

At Elysee Miami, opening in 2020, the Owner’s Sky Lounge with 360-degree views will be found on the 30th floor.  “We know that we’re making a big bet,” said Reid Boren, managing partner of Two Roads Development, of the decision to forego sale of the floor.  “For us, the decision is easy. We know the expectations of the million-dollar buyer to, in our case, $12-million buyer, and if you want to be successful, you have to give a great deal of value to the people purchasing in our building.”

Designer Living

Another valuable amenity is that which is embedded in style—a grand dining room, a private theater or a poolside retreat created by the hand of a famous designer. More and more developers at the high end are turning to designers to help distinguish their project from the next.

“For us it’s among the most important decisions we make when doing a project,” Mr. Boren said, who hired designer Thom Filicia of the television show, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” to design interiors at Biscayne Beach already open in Miami, and an upcoming project in Tampa Bay, Florida, called Riverwalk Place. Jean-Louis Deniot, a leading French designer, is lending his hand to Elysee Miami, advising on apartment floor plans, flooring and kitchen finishes, as well as the club level and its piano lounge, dining room and private theater.

Besides the draw of a known name, Boren says, a designer “knows what looks right now” to make spaces feel like a home. “These common areas are really extensions of peoples’ homes,” Boren says. “When you have a party, you expand into the grand spaces, and making those spaces beautiful and livable, and making them something to be proud of to their guests, is of incredible importance.”

Besides, the cost of a top designer is spread around. “As much as we’re giving away the 30th floor and 7th floor (for the fitness facilities), if you tried to hire Thom Filicia, or Jean-Louis especially right now, to do your house, you’d spend many hundreds of thousands of dollars, before he bought the first stick of furniture. So these guys are an amenity unto themselves in some ways.”

Meanwhile, in a first for the Italian fashion house, Missoni is designing the interiors of Missoni Baia, which is scheduled to open in early 2021 and being built on Biscayne Bay, Florida. Another Italian firm, Minotti, is getting in on the act for the first time at 2000 Ocean, scheduled for completion in 2020 in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Hotel Services

“The market is starting to differentiate itself also with what we call ‘branded residences,’” said Alexander Lewis, a residential development partner at Knight Frank in London, “whereby hotels are actually starting to run some of these schemes.” As an example, he pointed to Twenty Grosvenor Square, which opened in 2018 as the first standalone Four Seasons residential building, though  residents will be provided with an array of hotel-level amenities and services.

“The most famous one being delivered (in 2021) is the new Peninsula hotel (in Belgravia), which will have 28 residences alongside it, and will have full Peninsula staffing,” he says.

Aman resorts plans to add 20 residences, its first in an urban setting, to the top of  its new hotel in midtown Manhattan opening in 2020. Owners will have private amenities as well as access to all hotel services.

In South Florida, a unique amenity  will be offered to owners of condos in the three Four Seasons residences located along the coast. Not only do they have access to hotel amenities, but they can move among the developers’ properties in Palm Beach (re-opened late 2018), Fort Lauderdale (opening in 2020) and Miami (opened early 2018) as well as a private island in the Bahamas called Norman’s Cay. They will receive preferred rates on dining and hotel stays and special courtesies, such as a limousine to get them from one Four Seasons to the next or luxury accommodations on the new private Brightline express train that connects the three cities.

“You wouldn’t have to think about a thing,” said Louise Sunshine, strategic adviser for the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences in Fort Lauderdale. “If you liked tea at 3 o’clock, you would have tea at 3 o’clock. Once you check in from one place to another, because it’s owned by the same developers, all of your needs are communicated.”

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Source: Housing Trends Feed