They Don't Make Rentals Like They Used To (They're Actually Pretty Nice These Days)

The William Beaver House is one of the more unusual apartment buildings in a city full of towers that would fit that description. There is the pixellated black-and-yellow facade, the racy anime ad campaign, the grand foreclosure of Tamir Sapir and Andres Balazs’ FiDi glory. But the masses of New York City renters looking for the kind of amenities only ever found in one’s own home can now rejoice. The real estate bubble has made their dreams come true, as one of the William Beaver House architects explains to The Times our changed world:

Tsao & McKown gave the bathrooms louvered doors that open to expose the tubs to the bedrooms (and, in many cases, to spectacular New York Harbor views). There are also large showers behind glass panels, where Tsao & McKown addressed a problem many other designers have ignored: a hole in the glass lets you reach the faucet – adjusting temperature and pressure – before you step into the shower.

Tsao & McKown also designed what Mr. Azria calls “Murphy offices” installed behind sliding closet doors, with woodwork as well crafted as anything on an oligarch’s yacht. Equally refined are the “Murphy kitchens,” compact units of sleek cabinets and appliances, extremely handsome but with precious little work space. Mr. Tsao said: “The bathrooms are bigger than the kitchens, but that’s how people live. You come home from work not to cook a meal, but to decompress. It’s the mise-en-scène of a contemporary life.”

Mr. Tsao, told that some units would be rented out, said potential tenants “are lucky that, because of economic hardship, they can get something built” at a time when developers were competing to create the most luxurious buildings. “Rentals,” he said, “are never built to that standard.”

Murphy kitchens, reach-through showers, all for only a few thousand dollars a month! It’s a whole new New York.

It’s true, though–from the nearby 8 Spruce Street and its $3,000 Frank Gehry studios to the Upper West Side-redefining Corner and dozens of less premier buildings in Brooklyn and beyond, this truly is a golden age for the rental building in New York. This kind of money that only would have ever flowed in during a real estate boom, and only by-and-large for the condo set. And with construction coming back who knows when, well, will we ever see a “conversation pit” in the lobby or a sexy anime ad campaign ever again? Probably not.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @mc_nyo

They Don't Make Rentals Like They Used To (They're Actually Pretty Nice These Days)