After the Sept. 11 attacks, some landlords installed sturdy posts outside their buildings to guard against future strikes.

A legacy of the current health crisis? Kettlebells with handles made of copper.

Opting for the brown metal known for its antimicrobial properties instead of steel is among the steps some developers are taking to keep viruses out of their amenity spaces.

While slow to embrace major changes — some developers say they’re hopeful that pandemics will not be a concern when their projects finally open in 2023 — developers are making tweaks in the face of the COVID era.

They’re adding cabana-lined roof decks, repurposing lounges as outdoor schools and switching out built-in couches for more movable versions to facilitate social distancing, as well as adding ventilation systems that are deluxe even by the standards of luxury apartments.

“We haven’t had drastic changes,” said Whitney Kraus, the director of architecture and planning for Brown Harris Stevens Development Marketing, but added, “I don’t think amenities will ever go back to the way they were before.”

Some upgrades will likely appeal whether a disease is rampaging or not.

The residents of Astoria Lights, a co-op redevelopment on 38th Street in Queens, for instance, will probably enjoy a new roof deck long after the COVID crisis has passed.

After watching residents throng to an existing public roof deck after it reopened in July and noticing that units with private terraces at the Rowan, a nearby project, were hot commodities during the lockdown, the co-op decided to boost the complex’s amount of outdoor space, said John Petras, a RockFarmer co-managing principal.

The planned new deck will be the third at the buff-brick four-building co-op, which has 167 apartments, 138 of which are being converted from rentals in phases. One-bedrooms start at $575,000.

Plans for the deck, which will be presented to the co-op board for approval this fall, will offer about a dozen private cabanas, curtain-lined seating areas measuring about 100 square feet with starting prices of about $45,000 a pop. Putting them atop a prewar structure won’t be a snap, Petras said: “It’s a major job and a major expense,” about $250,000 for the deck alone. “But there is a demand.”

In fact, six of seven cabanas on the building’s second deck, which had been planned pre-COVID and is about to be constructed, sold quickly, he added.

Quarantine has forced tweaks to other amenities. A planned basement co-working center will now install dividers around workspaces, to make them more private, while hammocks in courtyards will be similarly cordoned off. And a rooftop garden on the second deck, has been redesigned to include walking paths.

“We’re not going to go all in on protecting the building against pandemics, assuming they will keep happening,” Petras said. “But for now, we’re doing everything we can.”

Rental complexes seem to be rationing amenities differently. Gotham Organization, a rental developer at work on new projects, is undertaking a sort of test drive on some existing properties to see what works.

Properties like Gotham West in Manhattan and the Ashland in Brooklyn, for example, now require tenants to use an app called Amenity Boss — created this spring in response to lockdowns — to reserve their outdoor time in public courtyards, roof decks and terraces.

And when Gotham reopens its gyms this month, capacity will be limited to 33% of what is permitted. Six-foot social distancing will also be required, which Gotham will enforce by unplugging some treadmills and other workout machines.


Source:  SFBJ

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