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Wither the Street?

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#1 Icebergalley

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 07:19 PM

I was going to start a Trends issue thread but thought we could chat about this NY Times Sunday Styles article..

As soon as I say Starbucks coffee and a communal breakfast on the top floor of a NYC condo, I thought of the lack of coming and going and street action around some of the new residential condo buildings... amd my rose coloured glasses view of having a block party on Humboldy when the Aria is completed... must be old school thinking...

Also interesting comments by sociologists... re the Jane Jacobs front steps...

"People in poor or working-class neighborhoods, on the other hand, meet on stoops, at city-run pools and in community gardens, said Dalton Conley, the chairman of the sociology department at New York University, and parents have always used parks and playgrounds to meet neighbors and foster a sense of community. “I do think this possibly is new to these folks who have traditionally used economic power to buy privacy and individual anonymity,” Dr. Conley said."

The spin on this article is that the neighbourhood has moved inside...

Here's the with the images..

http://www.nytimes.c... ... ref=slogin



April 29, 2007
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
THEY came in sweatshirts and fuzzy slippers, suits and oxfords, seeking chocolate muffins and Cheerios. Some grabbed a yogurt and left. Others lingered. In the room high above the Hudson River, they relished the food, the vistas and one another’s company for as long as they could stretch a New York minute.

So began another morning at Orion, a 60-story condominium on West 42nd Street with a glass body and a Club Med soul, where residents in anything from pajamas to pinstripes can enjoy a taste of camaraderie with their free (yes, free) daily breakfast, Starbucks coffee included.

“It’s almost impossible not to make a friend here,” said Danny SiFonte, the resident manager with a buildingwide celebrity akin to that of Norm on “Cheers.”

“We’re going to do movie nights and we’re going to do book clubs,” said Nancy Diaz, a resident who, in an interview, likened the condo to a cruise ship. “There’s talk of using the pool for water volleyball. We’ll have Monday night sports. We have a spring fling coming up in May.”

Clearly, Orion is incubating a mutant strain of New Yorker.

New Yorkers, as any MetroCard-carrying resident knows, are not notably genial neighbors. Many get to know one another solely by what manages to permeate their deadbolted doors — an odoriferous stew, the wail of a child, the hushed sighs of intimate moments.

But the boom in condos loaded with amenities, along with the construction of some high-end rental buildings, has created opportunities for neighbors to make the transition from polite elevator nods to cocktail-caliber mingling. Of 19 properties in the city with units being marketed and sold by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group since fall 2005, all have community amenities like gyms, lounges and roof decks.

These and more novel spaces — cinemas, wet bars, squash courts, outdoor rain showers — are putting lounges with a lonely television set to shame, and they are fostering a clubby college-dormitory atmosphere in several developments. Some residents said they can’t help but hobnob, especially if they want to take advantage of what they paid for.

“Instead of staying up in our apartment, we always stay here,” said Annie Jose, 54, who was nibbling a bagel and raisin bread at Orion one morning. “Sometimes we have two, three tables joined so everyone can talk.”

Developers, too, are embracing the idea of friendliness. A six-building condo development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, for instance, which will have its first open house on May 6, has been named Hello and given a name-tag sticker as its branding image.

It already has YouTube, Flickr and cheeky MySpace Web pages for its buildings, with one MySpace page claiming: “The poker tables alone will make friends and enemies, but everyone can all get along by watching ‘Badlands’ on the big screen.”

The amenities, like rooftop cabanas, a barbecue area, wine cellar, library, children’s playroom and pool, are spread throughout the six buildings, in part to motivate residents to fraternize.

“We’re extremely social creatures, and I think people in New York really suffer from an inability to really interact with people,” said Susan Meiklejohn, an associate professor of urban planning at Hunter College. “And that’s what these developers are realizing.”

This is not because New Yorkers are cold, Dr. Meiklejohn said, but because the city is so dense that people avoid one another to establish buffer zones. “What level of friendliness can you possibly sustain each day if you have to say hello to everybody you meet on 34th Street?” she said.

In many new buildings, though, neighbors are venturing beyond tight-lipped hellos at the mailbox. At a Chelsea condo that opened last year, groups of residents have organized Friday night cocktails and floor mixers, and gathered on Sundays to watch “The Sopranos.” Some are planning a rotating party this summer.

“I was in my old building seven years, and it wasn’t until the last year that I got to know my neighbors,” said Carol Candiano, who lived in an Upper East Side prewar building before buying her apartment at 555 West 23rd Street. “People kept to themselves.”

Yet even within a spirited building like Orion, experiences vary. Ms. Jose, a nurse, said she has made numerous friends there, while another owner, Tanya Cereda, 25, a waitress, said she feels “at home” with her neighbors but has not established friendships.

Ginger Gilden, on the other hand, said she has become part of a close network of mothers and nannies since she and her husband moved last year to be@ClintonWest, a condo building in Hell’s Kitchen, from a rental building in Queens. “We all have the same pediatrician,” said Ms. Gilden, an architect. And she said she is looking forward to a coming golf tournament, to be held at the building’s open-air putting green.

“It has a small neighborhood feel to it,” Ms. Gilden said of the building, “like its own little town.”

That is how neighbors meet in many other parts of the country, gathered as so many are in communities built around golf courses and recreation centers. It is the story of Florida, Arizona, North Carolina — places to which New Yorkers flee.

But in New York, tenants and apartment owners rarely enter buildings expecting a welcome wagon. Indeed, Bre Zack, 20, a student at Pratt Institute and an intern at Christie’s, said she expected little when she moved to EastCoast, a rental building with a gym, sun deck and lounge areas in Long Island City, Queens, from her Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone, where she said “no one spoke with one another.”

Yet “everyone was so friendly upon my arrival,” she said. “All of my neighbors came out to say hello to me and ask if I needed anything.” That atmosphere became more evident once she began using the amenities regularly.

Jonathan Miller, president of the Miller Samuel appraisal firm, estimated that there are about 15,000 to 20,000 new residential condo units in development in New York City. Sales of condo units in the first quarter of this year reached 1,703, the highest in at least 20 years, according to data from Miller Samuel. About 30 percent of the 2,994 condo units listed for sale were from new developments.

Real estate professionals said the new buildings are more likely to have community space, making opportunities to socialize more plentiful.

“These amenities are drawing people out of their apartments,” said Pamela Liebman, the president and chief executive of the Corcoran Group. “This has become a way of life.”

At least for those who can afford it.

Available 698-square-foot studio apartments in the William Beaver House, a residence in the Financial District being developed by André Balazs, the hotelier, range from about $950,000 to $1.1 million. The perks, designed to encourage social interaction, include a cinema with day beds, a lap pool, a covered outdoor dog park and an outdoor basketball court with bleachers.

“You can think of the entire building as your home,” he said.

Then again, as Mr. Balazs said, people may become friendly in these buildings because they are “self selecting” clubs.

People in poor or working-class neighborhoods, on the other hand, meet on stoops, at city-run pools and in community gardens, said Dalton Conley, the chairman of the sociology department at New York University, and parents have always used parks and playgrounds to meet neighbors and foster a sense of community. “I do think this possibly is new to these folks who have traditionally used economic power to buy privacy and individual anonymity,” Dr. Conley said.

Once people move into amenity-drenched buildings, however, some discover that Mister Rogers was indeed onto something.

Highlyann Krasnow, the executive vice president of the Developers Group, said befriending the neighbors is especially common in buildings that are in emerging neighborhoods where there are younger buyers and somewhat lower price points.

The type of amenity and its placement within a building also affects just how friendly the vibe is, said Shaun Osher, chief executive of CORE Group Marketing.

“There are some buildings that seem like they’re turning into a frat house,” he said, adding, “We’re doing a condo on Fifth Avenue. If we put a hot tub in a common area it really would not resonate with our buyer.”

Not every residential experience, obviously, revolves around amenities. Jim Malkin, chairman of SourceMedia, which publishes American Banker and other financial publications, said his five-story East Village walk-up had open house-style parties every Christmas when residents wandered among apartments, eating and drinking. He now lives in the Gretsch Building, a condo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where there is a common space, but he said it is not used very often.

“It really depends on how friendly you want to be,” Mr. Malkin said, adding that those, like himself, who want to befriend their neighbors, will always do so, amenities or not.

“The nice thing about New York is you can make that choice,” said Judith DeSena, an associate professor of sociology who teaches a course about neighborhoods at St. John’s University.

That people today commonly buy into a building before it is completed and all move in about the same time may account for a good deal of the friendliness. There are no entrenched social circles to penetrate, no ornery characters who have been ruling the roost for 20 years. The anticipation of collectively shaping the atmosphere of the building begins well before the owners move in, thanks to building blogs and Champagne opening celebrations.

“It’s a bonding experience,” Mr. Osher said.

Ms. Candiano agreed, saying that moving into 555 West 23rd Street “was like the first year of college.”

The unanswered question is whether they still will be friends come senior year.

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#2 G-Man


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Posted 02 May 2007 - 06:23 AM

I spent a week in Greenwich Village last year and there was still plenty of neighbourhood chit chat along those streets and those people are not what I would call poor ;)

I think it may have more to do with the way buildings interact with the street and the neighbourhood as a whole than who lives there. Of course on the Upper East side I saw lots of people on the sidewalk they just happened to be all servants pushing wealthy kids around. So that may be an example of a neighbourhood with little interaction.

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