2008 August 31 Sunday
Garages And Fawning Servants Key To Manhattan Lifestyle

A couple of articles from the very liberal New York Times provide chuckles about what the Times thinks its readers want to know. First off, a garage in Manhattan is great and it boosts your real estate's market value.

A recent check of real estate Web sites turned up about a dozen listings for town houses with private garage space in Manhattan and Brooklyn, ranging in price from $1.195 million, for a brownstone in Crown Heights, to $18.75 million for a restored carriage house in Greenwich Village. "I can’t imagine any greater luxury than a garage,” said Kirk Henckels, a Stribling & Associates broker. ”It’s not the square footage in Manhattan that counts. It’s the amenities.”

Town houses with existing garages and curb cuts on the sidewalk command a premium when the houses are resold. That is partly because getting approval from the city to create a new curb cut involves navigating a thicket of building regulations and approvals.

The Gray Lady observes that permits needed for installing a garage are hard to get. But the idea of actually complaining about government regulations probably doesn't cross the minds of the reporter or editor of this piece.

The Department of Buildings has approved only 54 new curb cuts in Manhattan so far in 2008, and only 57 curb cuts in all of 2007.

However, they report the troubling fact that some who can afford their own garage in Manhattan find that it gives them a taste of suburban life and they decide to move to the suburbs. This brings into question the whole idea that Manhattan is a great place to live. So garages bring risks.

Another article for the upper class about thrifty ways to upgrade your co-up building offers the useful advice that if your doorman isn't sufficiently obsequious that, well, you deserve better than that and should get your servants better trained.

“If you’re looking to buy in a building, and the staff is curt or not polite or disheveled, that is very important in determining property values,” said David Kuperberg, the chief executive of Cooper Square Realty Inc., which manages about 200 co-op and condominium buildings, mostly in Manhattan. “And if you have a surly doorman, it’s going to affect your quality of life adversely, because there’s nothing better than coming home at night and being greeted by a happy face and, ‘Hello, how are you doing Mr. or Ms. So-and-So.’ ”

Many people settle for a happy greeting from a dog. But in Manhattan you must receive a happy greeting from a doorman or you just haven't arrived.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 August 31 09:31 PM  Economics Elites

Stephen said at August 31, 2008 11:38 PM:

This is actually an article intended to attract a certain demographic so that the publisher can then market the demographic to advertisers who will place ads targetting that demographic - kind of an ecosystem where consumer eats newspaper which eats advertiser which eats consumer.

xref their travel section - articles about international boutique hotels that are so expensive and exclusive that even above average earning readers can only dream about booking a single night. But the net effect is that the reader gets a bit of a subliminal buzz from just reading about it and then goes and buys a cheaper holiday in order to satisfy the craving.

Kinda sad really.

Ned said at September 1, 2008 8:07 AM:

Even for upper income folks, the cost of living in Manhattan can be out of reach. I have a friend who was offered a departmental chair at a very prestigious NY medical school. He was all set to take it when he began to do some reality checking concerning the price of a midtown condo and the high taxes he'd be paying. Even though the salary they offered him seemed very high, it wasn't really adequate to cover the cost of living in NY. He decided to decline the offer.

m said at September 2, 2008 4:24 AM:

it wasn't really adequate to cover the cost of living in NY. He decided to decline the offer.

The trendy urban lifestyle is self-limiting due to sticker shock.
I have several friends who were preparing to move from the outer 'burbs to the trendy "inner loop" area of Houston till they,too,did the math.Food,housing,utilities and,of course,city taxes are a very hig price to pay for resturants,clubs and the theatre district when those are easily accessible for a few bucks worth of gas and a 30-40 minute commute.

Knock said at September 2, 2008 5:31 AM:

Why did't he opt to live in a NJ suburb? While still no bargain, he would have gotten much more for much less money(garage, yard, etc...) and could have even found a hip, trendy place to live with the "right" address (if that is what he was looking for). The trade off would have been an about a max commute of an hour by train.

Ned said at September 3, 2008 5:10 AM:

Knock -

I'm afraid I don't have a good answer to your question. All I know is that he told me the midtown condos he looked at were priced in the $1.5-2 million range ("And they were pretty ordinary condos!"). I have no idea why he didn't choose to live in a suburb. Maybe he didn't like to commute, or maybe he felt that, because of the prestige of the position, he needed to live in Manhattan. I just don't know. He ended up moving taking a similar job in another Northeastern city, where he lives in - a midtown condo. But I don't think it cost $2 million.

Rick Darby said at September 4, 2008 7:26 AM:

"… there’s nothing better than coming home at night and being greeted by a happy face and, ‘Hello, how are you doing Mr. or Ms. So-and-So.’ ”

What a pathetic comment on the values of New York's rich. A professionally smiling doorman greets you. The headwaiter knows you by name. You pay over the odds for your clothes at fancy boutiques so you can ostentatiously carry the shopping bag. Your "personal trainer" will be waiting for you at 6 a.m.

Have a nice life, Mr. or Ms. Big.

Half Sigma said at September 6, 2008 3:35 PM:

"because there’s nothing better than coming home at night and being greeted by a happy face and, ‘Hello, how are you doing Mr. or Ms. So-and-So.’"

That probably explains why the evening doorman in my building is much friendlier than the morning doorman. Building management has arranged things so that the most obsequious doorman works during the most important evening hours.

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