The wet bar seats eight comfortably; the billiards table is covered in red felt; ESPN blares from the flat-screen television, a salvo of sports scores echoing over the brown leather armchairs; and, next-door, the children are playing in their rec room.
Upstairs, the rooftop terrace is quiet. Several neighbors are lounging on the deck chairs under the gazebo, surveying the brilliant emerald lawn.
Is this suburbia? Not exactly. Two Gold Street is a luxury rental building smack in the middle of the Financial District.
Luxury rentals like this one, where a one-bedroom will set you back between $2,950 and $3,875 monthly, are New York City’s answer to the gated community: clean, secure, exclusive (but not out of reach), and outfitted with amenities like grill stations, manicured rooftop lawns, and foosball tables.
In the solarium at 2 Gold Street, Tacey Jones’ pink fingernails tap away at her sticker-bedecked laptop. Ms. Jones, 22, moved here three weeks ago from Montana. She began interning at Betsey Johnson, found a roommate on Craigslist, and moved into a two-bedroom. The building reminds her a little of home, especially the open spaces.
“On the weekends it’s nice because it’s relaxing,” she said. “Things are slower when there’s not people working around. It’s safe too.”
Walk-ups are cute, she said, “but this is just so much better in so many ways. It’s like living in a hotel. Everything’s always convenient, always safe, always clean. You don’t have to worry about gross things. Like mice! And creepy things like that.”
In New York’s gated communities, you don’t have to worry about a lot of New York concerns. There are monitored parking garages, dry cleaning facilities, private party rooms, 24-hour concierges, and health spas.
At the Eastcoast, a Long Island City rental building, you will find a 35,000-square-foot terrace on the ninth floor, where tall grass waves in the breeze. Tiled pathways zigzag around individual patios, each equipped with their own barbecue and cluster of chairs. There are bocce ball courts.
The Westport, at 500 West 56th Street, has laundry on every floor, a half-court basketball court, a grilling station out back, and a games room with a poker table and foosball. There are a lot of dogs. (“You can hear them bark at night,” said one resident.) A one-bedroom rents for roughly $3,500 per month.
“It sometimes feels like I’m not in New York when I’m in the building,” said Lisa, a 27-year-old holistic health councilor who has a studio at the Westport. “It’s trying to have things that a suburban housing complex would – everything at your fingertips, where you don’t have to leave [the building] much if you don’t want. But it’s not big enough. It’s not big enough to do that. It needs a swimming pool.”
OF COURSE, SWIMMING POOL or not, there’s no escaping the city outside, and most residents of these luxury rentals dispute the notion that their buildings resemble suburbia. For evidence, they point to the noise on the streets, the skyscraper views, and the shops and restaurants within easy reach.
“It’s still Midtown!” they say.
But they also love how clean these buildings are, how new, how different from the sweaty, smelly city down below.
New York’s gated communities are secure, safe, monitored. At the Westminster in Chelsea, the concierge knows his tenants by name. They greet him with a “Hi, John!”
“There’s just not a lot of doorman buildings [in Chelsea],” explained Catherine Cody, 30, who has lived in one of the Westminster’s studios for three years. “It’s just very safe. I enjoy the security of it, that would be the number one.”
Often, however, residents choose these apartments as much for their affordable rent – these are not condominiums after all – as for their entertainment rooms and mini-libraries. One of the salient features of New York’s luxury rental buildings is that they’re relatively inexpensive to occupy.
Sarah Adelson, 24, who recently launched her own fashion line from the convertible one-bedroom she shares with her business partner at 2 Gold Street, noted that the rents her friends were paying to live in walk-ups were comparable to her own.
“My old building was really expensive,” said David Cvengros, 22, who lives at the Eastcoast, where convertible one-bedrooms like his can rent for $2,600 per month. “It wasn’t a luxury building, it was a brownstone.”
On Center Boulevard, where the Eastcoast is located, the sidewalks are wide, the streets are quiet, and the buildings are glassy residential high-rises. Mr. Cvengros used to live in Hell’s Kitchen, but now he has a more suburban lifestyle just a few subway stops away. He works at a law firm in Midtown, comes home, sleeps, works, sleeps, works, and strolls the boardwalk on the weekends.
“We were just trying to get out of the city,” he said.