Central Air in New York: the Ultimate Perk

Buying a place in a quaint prewar building without a good air-conditioning system might seem like a good idea in

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Buying a place in a quaint prewar building without a good air-conditioning system might seem like a good idea in the spring (the apartment has such charm!), but come July when that heat wave hits, an un-air-conditioned unit can turn into your own personal hell.

“Because the heat has been so bad, I would say [central air-conditioning] is a huge plus,” said Diane Sutherland, the broker for downtown’s 50 Pine Street, Apartment 3N, at an open house July 21. “… More and more people now are spending money to get central air.”

Imagine a world in which you can fall asleep to the sound of nothing, without the annoyance of a window unit grinding away to turn hot air into cold, clogging the ozone layer and poisoning your progeny over time. You could control the temperature of your entire apartment with the touch of one button. They do it all the time in the suburbs!

Apartment 3N at 50 Pine—which comes with a price tag of $1.299 million—has such a luxury. We imagine window units would have had a hard time cooling such a wide-open space with 10-foot ceilings. The unit also has a washer and dryer—another elusive feature that some Manhattanites are willing to pay up for.

But not even central air-conditioning and a breeze from the seaport lured many apartment hunters downtown during the height of last week’s heat wave; only one couple viewed the apartment before we got there.

Down the street, at 20 Pine, in Apartment 402 central air was swapped for the less attractive (and maybe less efficient) standalone wall units. It’s not quite central air, but it’s a pretty good imitation.

“People have commented on it, said ‘oh, what a great feature.’ Especially today, because it’s very warm out,” said a broker for the apartment, William Blair Flanagan.

This one-bedroom apartment, which is going for $985,000, has another twist on a luxury feature—there is a washer and dryer, but it’s a small combo machine. The space-saving mindset that is widespread in Europe might, in fact, be embodied in this apartment. Not only is the washer and dryer combined into one small machine, but the dishwasher is also tiny and fits into a medium-sized drawer. Counter space in the kitchen (which is just a strip of cupboards and a counter stretched across one wall) is limited, but a large, square column in the kitchen area doubles as an “island” with added cupboards, shelves and a counter.

And if the wall units in this apartment aren’t powerful enough to battle a 100-plus degree heat wave, the building has a lap pool and spa (but we doubt you’d use the steam room). The blackout shades might also come in handy to keep the sun from heating the apartment during the day.

Hotel-like amenities are also the name of the game at 111 Fulton Street, where Apartment 322, a 570-square-foot studio, is on the market for $649,000. In addition to central air, the building has a movie room, a pool table, a “library lounge,” a 24-hour gym and a roof deck complete with cabanas and a reflecting pool.

Iwona Misiuta, a broker for Synergy NYC who lives in the building, said the central air was on her list of top five favorite features about the apartment.

“As a broker, when I see clients, [central air] is an added perk. They don’t expect it,” she said. “… Nowadays, I can’t imaging living without it.”

pengel@observer.com Central Air in New York: the Ultimate Perk