Luxury buildings bring elevator privacy to the next level

What you need to know about apartments with elevators that open directly into them

Luxury buildings bring elevator privacy to the next level

Having a private elevator that opens directly into your apartment sounds swanky. But is it safe?

In this week’s Buy Curious, Jeff Garlin of Citi Habitats and Kelly Dilek of Keller Williams Tribeca tell you where to find apartments with this amenity, who typically buys them, what security measures you should expect—and what to do when someone you don't know gets on the elevator heading to your apartment.

The question:

I’ve been thinking of buying an apartment with a private keyed elevator, but I’m concerned about safety. Do I need to worry about strangers getting into the elevator with me? How does it all work?

The reality:

Garlin has lived in a condo with a keyed elevator for the past 10 years, and has first-hand experience with the pros and cons of this feature.

“From the lobby the elevator looks no different from traditional ones that open onto common hallways,” he says, so “first-time visitors are often very surprised to find themselves staring directly into our apartment when the doors open.” 

How exactly do they work?

To keep people from having unauthorized access to residents’ homes, most of these types of elevators have a key-lock system, Garlin says. A resident’s key will only allow access to their specific floor.

Dilek has noticed some variations on this. Instead of a simple key, she’s seen magnetic cards in the control board of the elevator, keypads with codes, and even fingerprint readers. The elevator door won’t open unless you enter the right combination or access with the right key.

“Nowadays, there is voice recognition software, as well,” she says.

Where are they found?

This is a luxury amenity, so you can expect apartments to be large, mostly whole-floor and penthouse units.

“Because a private keyed-elevator system is usually found in buildings with one or possibly two apartments per floor, these homes generally take up more square footage than apartments accessed off a common hallway,” Garlin says.

This feature is found primarily in new construction condo buildings, as well as in buildings that are industrial-to-residential conversions in Soho, Tribeca, and Chelsea in Manhattan, and Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn.

Pro Tip

A search of Citi Habitats’ internal sales database conducted by Garlin late last month revealed that Manhattan had the most homes with private keyed elevators on the market, a total of 161, followed by Brooklyn with 35. The remaining boroughs had nothing available with private elevators.

Will you be more ly to find them in co-op or condo buildings?

Definitely condos.

Manhattan’s 161 listings, 111 were in condo buildings, as were all 35 Brooklyn listings, Garlin says.

Garlin believes this is due to liability issues if service goes out.

“Basically, in a co-op or a rental building the loss of elevator service can be viewed by the state as a breach of the quiet enjoyment that is considered a right of the occupant,” he explains. “In a condominium this is not the case.

The state does not extend the same rights to the owner of individual units.

The loss of elevator service does not permit those owners to withhold common charges or take other similar actions against the board as it is seen by the state to be a direct violation of the bylaws that govern condominium properties.”

Are these apartments more secure?

Most of these types of apartments are in posh buildings with doormen, Dilek says. “And the older loft buildings have video surveillance and controlled access, so security’s not usually an issue.”

Garlin’s own building has a video intercom which can be activated to view the interior of the elevator so you can see who is in it as you pull them up to your floor. 

“Additionally, I have a secondary steel door that has a bolt lock,” he says. “When the elevator stops on my floor and opens, if that secondary door has not been unlocked, entry cannot be gained to the apartment. The secondary security door is very nondescript; it just looks any apartment entry door and blends well with our décor.”

Dilek has seen locking doors the one Garlin mentioned, as well as steel gates just outside the elevator. Cameras with multiple views and alarms are also pretty common.

Additional precautions also have to be taken if young children are living on the premises. Garlin has two kids, and in his home, the elevator makes a pinging noise before it arrives on his floor. “That is a necessity for me so that I am aware if my kids have called it,” he says. “If the bell were silenced, they could easily slip downstairs without my knowledge.”

Do you have to worry about a stranger getting into the elevator with you?

Not really.

In the new construction condo buildings, there is a doorman who controls the access to the building. And loft buildings are generally small—only one unit per floor—so you’ll more than ly recognize most of the people in your building.

And in the event that you ever do find yourself in the elevator with someone unfamiliar, remember that without special key access the door will not open on your floor.

“You can always go back down to the lobby if you feel uncomfortable,” Dilek says.

Does having a private elevator add on to the price of an apartment?

“Almost every client perceives it as a bonus and will be willing to concede it adds to the apartment’s value,” Garlin says. “They may not have been seeking this, but almost all will feel it adds to the overall perception of the apartment having more panache.”

As to how much it can add to the price, Garlin feels that that can only be determined on a case by case basis. “If the building is swank and newly converted you can push it a bit. But if you outstrip your non-keyed  competition by too much your listing may sit longer than desired,” he says.

Is an apartment with a private elevator a common request?

Not at all. Garlin notes that in eight years, he hasn’t had a single client request to be shown only apartments with keyed elevators. “It’s more of an unexpected ‘added bonus’ when we arrive at an apartment with this feature,” he says.

Dilek adds that celebrities, high net worth individuals, and people with security concerns are the most interested in this type of amenity. 

Check out these apartments with elevators that open into them:

52 Park Ave., #7, Murray Hill

This $1,639,000 two-bedroom, two-bath full-floor condo (also pictured above) has two private keyed elevators, a floor-to-ceiling window wall looking out onto Park Avenue, a windowed eat-in kitchen with granite counters and a large pantry, a hidden computer desk and chair closet off the foyer, and a laundry closet with a washer and dryer. It’s in a condo building with a doorman on call 16 hours a day, a virtual doorman at other times, rooftop terrace, and private locked storage cages in the basement. Common charges are $2,337 a month, and taxes are $1,409 a month.

245 10th Ave., #6E, Chelsea

Listed for $2,695,000, this two-bedroom, two-bath condo has a private keyed elevator entrance, 10-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling, east-facing windows, an open kitchen with a 14-foot-long stainless steel counter, updated floors, millwork, lighting, and blinds, an in-unit washer and dryer, and a private storage unit. It’s in a condo building with a 24-hour doorman, a concierge, a fitness center, and a large terrace overlooking the High Line. Common charges are $1,941 a month, and taxes are $1,298 a month.

127 Madison Ave., #8, Flatiron

Features of this 1,600-square-foot, full-floor, two-bedroom, two-bath condo include private keyed elevator access, walnut flooring, a washer/dryer, high ceilings, and marble countertops and built-in espresso machine. It’s located in a pet-friendly condo building, and is tenant occupied until August 31, 2019 at $6,200 a month. It’s listed for $2,375,000. Common charges are $1,186 a month, and taxes are $1,158 a month.

345 West Broadway, #2, Soho/Nolita

Priced at $3,095,000, this 2,200-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bath co-op has a private keyed elevator, double-hung windows, recessed lighting, white brick walls, built-in shelving, 10-foot-ceilings, a huge walk-in pantry in the kitchen, original pine flooring, and central air. It’s in a pet-friendly co-op building with a shared rooftop. Maintenance is $2,500 a month.

472 Greenwich St., #5, Tribeca

Listed for $1,795,000, this floor-through, two-bedroom, one-bath co-op has a washer and dryer, an open kitchen with a dishwasher and a garbage disposal, white oak plank flooring throughout, and basement storage. It’s in a pet-friendly co-op building housed in a onetime Worcestershire factory, and allows subletting, co-purchases, guarantors, and parent purchases—subject to board approval. Maintenance is $1,350 a month.


What is a Penthouse Apartment? Pros and Cons of Penthouses

Luxury buildings bring elevator privacy to the next level

Apartment hunting should be a fun and rewarding experience that results in your perfect place to call home. If your budget allows for sparkling views and luxury, why stop at just an upscale apartment? Give your wish list an upgrade and start touring your city’s best penthouse apartments.

Not sure if a penthouse apartment is for you? Here’s a complete rundown on what a penthouse is so and their pros and cons.

What is a Penthouse Apartment?

Penthouse apartments are luxury units that are on the top floor of an apartment building. They typically offer the very best views in the building, vaulted ceilings, and floor to ceiling windows. All of those perks and amenities also come with the most expensive apartment in the complex.

Pros of Penthouse Apartments

There are plenty of pros that come with penthouse apartments, starting with the views.

1. Endless Beautiful Views

If views are on your priority list, you can’t go wrong with penthouse apartments. They usually offer the very best in the building. They’re also more ly to offer floor-to-ceiling windows in multiple rooms and an expansive balcony. The views will usually be fully maximized.

2. Spacious Layouts With Luxury Touches

Renters craving more space should check out penthouses for their spaciousness and trend-setting, luxury touches. Although townhouses also offer space, penthouses take it a step further. They often feature fireplaces, dens, walk-in closets, and oversized balconies.

Because rent is typically higher in penthouse apartments than any other unit, you’re also more ly to enjoy the latest upgrades. Property managers know luxury renters want all the flourishes. Those can include stainless steel appliances, updated bathrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, walk-in showers, and more.

Penthouses offer more privacy than any other unit in a building. You’re usually the only apartment on the top floor. You can often enjoy exclusive elevator access. Most penthouse apartments come with a special key or code to reach the top floor that’s all for you.

4. Penthouse Status

There’s a certain status that comes with living in penthouse apartments. You’ll be the go-to spot for hosting and entertaining friends and family, for better or for worse.

Cons of Penthouse Apartments

Before you make up your mind about penthouse apartments, make sure you think through the drawbacks, starting with the cost.

1. Luxury Comes at a Cost

Despite all of the fantastic pros of reaching elite penthouse apartment status, there are some downsides to living the good life. According to Realtor, penthouse apartments are usually 5-15% more expensive than other units in the same building.

You’re paying a premium price tag for extra space and better views. However, you may find that a penthouse apartment stretches your budget too far.

2. Long Elevator Rides

Penthouse apartments include the longest elevator rides with multiple stops along the way. That may not sound a big deal, unless you live a busy life and need to come and go frequently. Long elevator rides can also get old when carrying groceries and walking your dog regularly.

3. Potentially Noisy Rooftop Amenities

Penthouse apartments may enjoy top floor status, but there might be more going on above you than you realized. Luxury apartment complexes may feature rooftop amenities that are just overhead. Pools and community spaces may get loud during weekends and community gatherings. Make sure to ask about the noise level in your penthouse apartment before signing the lease.

4. Weather Can Be Harsh

The views may be spectacular in penthouse apartments. However, the higher up you are, the harsher the weather.

Top-floor dwellers can endure hot summers and cold winters. Harsher conditions may lead to higher utility bills as you run your AC or heater more frequently.

5. Penthouses are Hard to Find

If you have your heart set on renting a penthouse apartment, you may find options are limited. Apartment complexes usually have just one or two penthouse units to choose from. The smaller market for penthouse apartments drives up the demand, competition, and rent.

6. “Penthouse” Can Have Different Meanings

Traditionally, most penthouse apartments are the premier unit on the top floor. However, some areas New York City may call three or four apartments on the same floor a penthouse. In some buildings, penthouses can be situated on multiple floors and may include exclusive amenities and terraces.

While this isn't necessarily a con to penthouse living, it's something to know before starting your apartment hunt.

Is a Penthouse Apartment for Me?

Penthouse apartments are the perfect choice for anyone looking for fantastic views, luxury amenities, and the best unit in the complex.

However, they also come with a significantly higher price tag and some drawbacks. Weigh your options and what you value most in your living situation before you sign your next lease.


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