Even on the 11th Floor, There’s Parking Right Out Front
The New York times 12/1/2011
By KEN BELSON
FROM two expansive windows in Glauco Lolli-Ghetti’s 11th-floor condominium in West Chelsea, there are sweeping views of the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. But visitors will not find an inviting sofa in this room, no place where a guest might sit back and admire the cityscape.
Most of the room, you see, is filled with a 2004 Range Rover.
Mr. Lolli-Ghetti has one of the world’s most expensive parking spaces, a costly talking point in a city where residents spend dearly to shelter their cars. His three-bedroom apartment at 200 11th Avenue — now on the market for $7 million — includes a 300-square-foot “en suite sky garage” that would be valued at more than $800,000 if priced at the same rate per square foot as the rest of the apartment.
It is not the parking spot in the sky attracting buyers to the new 19-story building at 24th Street, Mr. Lolli-Ghetti says, but the Hudson River panorama, the floor-to-ceiling windows and the thousands of square feet of space. Still, the sky garages in the building, which was designed by Annabelle Selldorf, are what has drawn the most attention.
“This is about as close to a suburban home that you can achieve in an urban area like New York,” he said. “You walk out your door and three steps later you’re in your garage.”
The technology of the single-car garages is relatively conventional. Mr. Lolli-Ghetti, a co-developer of the building, says the walls and doors are fire-rated, and sprinklers are positioned high overhead. When sensors detect high levels of carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxides, vents open to prevent a buildup of fumes.
To park cars at their apartments, drivers pull up to a black door on 11th Avenue where an electronic reader that operates like an E-ZPass opens the gate. After the driver pulls inside, the door shuts. Drivers then make a left turn, where the reader prompts an elevator gate to open.
Once the car is inside the elevator, a flat-panel display on the wall reminds the driver to shut off the engine. Infrared sensors monitor the car’s position and, when needed, the driver is prodded to back up or pull forward. The elevator automatically goes to the owner’s floor, where the driver backs the car into the garage space. When leaving the building, cars exit onto West 24th Street.
The inspiration for the sky garage, Mr. Lolli-Ghetti said, came from the commercial Starrett-Lehigh Building, just a few blocks away. There, he once saw Martha Stewart driving her car into the building, destined for her office.
For residents, the convenience of arriving directly at their doorstep — handy when groceries or luggage are involved — would be a minor selling point. In this price range, the sky garage conveys a more important characteristic: exclusivity. But that is not something readily expressed in terms of dollars.
Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuel Appraisers said there was no rule of thumb for how much a parking spot adds to the value of an apartment.
“It was clearly a marketing hook,” he said. “It doesn’t mark the beginning of a trend.”
Despite the building’s delayed opening — it was originally set for completion in 2009 — there are signs that the concept may hold some appeal, at least at the top end of the market. Last month, plans for a 57-story building in Miami Beach with apartment parking were approved. The project, a joint effort of the Porsche Design Group and a local developer, suggests that there are wealthy drivers who will pay for the privilege of pulling up directly to their front door.
“Obviously, when you have a nice car, at least now you know you’re the only one touching it — it’s safe,” Mr. Lolli-Ghetti said. “I don’t think it needs views like this, but it does need heating and it wants to be inside.”