July 28, 2015

The Future of Real Estate, Design, and Architecture

New York Spaces held an exclusive panel discussion to discover the trends that will shape life in Manhattan, the Hamptons, and beyond

by Alison Kotch

There's nothing that excites New Yorkers more than real estate: Whether it's purchasing a home, personalizing it with décor and amenities, or entertaining family and friends, homes will always be a source of pride and a reflection of those who live in them. But while deciding to invest in property is easy, it's more difficult to keep up with the changing tastes of the market, and to design spaces that deliver the convenience Millennial buyers desire.

"If I could predict the market for six months I would be happy," says Jacky Teplitzky, a top producer at Douglas Elliman who has sold more than $1 billion in property since 2000. "Our [housing] market is changing like the stock market, almost on a daily basis."

Partnering with Hundred Stories PR, the magazine brought together ten of New York's most successful minds in the business at One West End, the first of five buildings at the new Riverside Center. For a look inside the real-estate crystal ball, read on.

For Manhattan homebuyers with a budget of $500,000 to about 2 million, having a washer/dryer in the apartment and a gym in the building is no longer negotiable. Storage and outdoor space for sunset cocktails are close seconds. What, then, can developers incorporate to make a property more appealing? Uniqueness is key, as well as delivering a space that is beautiful and functional.

"Real estate is becoming like a collector's item—you have to think of real estate like art," notes Teplitzky. "It's not only about living in the apartment; people want to collect. They want to have in their portfolio the best possible real estate, something that really appeals to them."

A space that satisfies all of these requirements is what Teplitzky calls "triple mint," a property that gets snapped up on the resale market because it doesn't require permits or work to improve.

In the Hamptons, where homeowners have the luxury of space and budgets to match, the sky's the limit. "My market has been very traditional, but you're seeing it evolve architecturally to where you have panorama windows that go up into the ceiling— and they're 1,500 pounds and do it effortlessly—and the whole back of the house opens up," says Cody Vichinsky, co-founder of Bespoke Real Estate and a premier broker at the top of the Hamptons real estate market. "It's really trying to maximize your vista or whatever it is that you have from a property's perspective."

There's also a global influence in Hamptons architecture, Vichinsky adds, that only increases the beauty and appeal of homes in the area. From wine cellars/rooms to bigger pools and theaters, the desire to be at the forefront of the amenities curve isn't dictated by space restrictions.

Buildings with resort-style amenities will only become more popular with Manhattan residents. "When you're in a hotel, you never really want to leave—we wanted to bring that into your home," says Samantha Sax, executive vice president of Elad Group, of the One West End property. Multi-purpose rooms are another benefit of life at One West End: Kids' rooms can be rented out for birthday parties; the chef's kitchens are perfect for events; and the lounge, an inviting setting for cocktails, dinner parties, or Thanksgiving.

The popularity of mixed-use properties in the city and beyond will only grow in the next ten years. "We've got two or three projects downtown that are going to have shared lobbies, amenities, and elevators.

How do you blend and differentiate what is good and bad for each of those uses? It's brilliant because it does force us to think of what it means to enter an office, and what it means to enter an apartment building," says Randy Gerner, principal of Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects.

At the event, New York Spaces got the first glimpse of One West End's groundbreaking kitchens, which took over a year to design. Drawing from years of experience working with chefs like Daniel Boulud and Bobby Flay, Jeffrey Beers thoughtfully designed each prep area, station, and drawer for maximum efficiency.

"I've spent most of my career designing hospitality projects...a couple hundred restaurants, and a lot of hotels in the last four to five years," explains Beers, principal and founder of Jeffrey Beers International. "But what inspired me the most is the restaurant work. Being a parent and raising two children in Manhattan, at the end of the day we know that the kitchen is really the heart of the home. For me, this whole project was about that."

No matter the price point, New Yorkers are becoming increasingly discerning about amenities in the home. What's next: Resort-like services—on call whenever you need them —and buildings that could help you live longer.

"In my opinion, the doorman has to evolve into the concierge," says Teplitzky. "Why? Because in New York, we have less and less time. We want somebody who will do everything for us. We need a babysitter, a housekeeper, a dry cleaner...all of those basic things. So the doorman, in the way that we know it, has to evolve. The new developments are doing it more and more, but we also need it in existing housing."

While a one-stop source for outsourcing help is an attractive option, Teplitzky adds that on-call services (such as a hairdresser who is ready to go at 10pm) is the future, enhancing the manicure, pedicure and masseuse services that tend already to be on site. These services will undoubtedly appeal to Millennial residents, as well as buyers who have multiple homes in different cities.

Properties such as 22 Central Park South, which offers a 24-7 concierge with Bergdorf Goodman, are specifically designed for those who want the best of the best, but don't necessarily have the luxury of time to source it themselves: Everything from china, clothing, makeup, and home goods can be delivered—even if the owner calls from Europe via Facetime or Skype—and Bergdorf specialists will arrange for the items to be ready upon arrival.

Those who own property outside of the city can also expect concierge-style amenities in multimillion-dollar homes as well as condos, such as The Harbor in Greenwich, Connecticut; another development on the market next fall will have a full-time concierge. "People like to know that there's somebody else to call," says David Haffenreffer, brokerage manager of Houlihan Lawrence's flagship office in Greenwich. "I think the travel agent will make its way back, because it's a level of concierge service we gave up when the Internet showed up and we thought we could get a better deal. So I think it's coming full circle: We are wanting to rely on somebody else to do the work."

New York developers like Elad Group are taking cues from other U.S. cities, such as Miami or Los Angeles, whose Carlyle Residences offer 24-hour, white-glove concierge service. From dog walking and grooming to babysitters and activities for children, residents have come to appreciate the peace of mind that comes when details are handled with just one phone call, something New Yorkers can expect to see more and more as new buildings enter the market.

Health and environmentally conscious buyers will also have reason to celebrate: The panelists agreed that Delos-style living would be incorporated into more buildings.

"There are two parts to the Millennial life: Detox, and retox. Great social places—the indoor/outdoor experience—are key," Haffenreffer says. "The detox portion of it has leant itself to the creation of a lot of organic garden companies, which will create gardens where you can go out and clip and create meals in your fantastically beautiful kitchen."

Manhattan and Brooklyn dwellers eager to escape city life will be especially attracted to Hudson Woods in Kerhonkson, New York, where buyers can have a modern, energy-efficient home surrounded by nature for less than a million dollars. A healthier and more efficient life in and out of the city: The future can't come soon enough.

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