Sunday Apr 02, 2023

Luxury Rental Buildings Take ‘Working From Home’ to the Next Level – The New York Times


When Christopher Dossman and his wife, Yao Li, were looking for an apartment in New York last year, they compiled the usual list of preferences: washer/dryer, proximity to a grocery store, subway access. But a top priority for them was a work-from-home space.

In April, the couple moved into the Willoughby, a 34-story tower in Downtown Brooklyn, paying $4,300 a month for a one-bedroom. The building is unfinished, but they chose it because it provided a crucial amenity: a co-working space on the 22nd floor that includes semiprivate banquettes and a conference room with a view of Fort Greene Park.

“Every day I am up there,” said Mr. Dossman, an entrepreneur who has founded several tech start-ups. “There are some days I don’t leave the building at all.”

As corporate America adapts to employee requests for flex schedules, Mr. Dossman is part of a growing number of workers who want to work remotely, but not necessarily from their living room couches or kitchen tables.

The pandemic forced an exodus of workers from offices in 2020. Even as workplaces reopen, 59 percent of employees are still working remotely, according to a survey released earlier this year by the Pew Research Center. Among those remote workers, 78 percent say they want to continue to do so after the pandemic, up from 64 percent two years earlier.

Developers across the nation are doing what they can to make remote work more convenient to lure prospective tenants, setting off an amenities war as luxury rental buildings and condos dangle must-have conveniences like private offices, conference rooms, task lighting, wall-mounted monitors, podcasting booths and high-speed internet.

“It’s something you have to do today; it’s an amenity, like a pool,” said Ric Campo, the chief executive and chairman of Camden Property Trust, which included a work space called the Hub in the common area at Camden Harbor View, a residential development in Long Beach, Calif.

At most buildings, the cost of the work spaces is included in the rent, but some landlords charge a fee to reserve a room for a large meeting or an extended period. Co-working firms like Industrious and WeWork are beginning to take notice, hoping not to get edged out of what could become a lucrative market.

Developers have been adding space to apartments for years as architects design bedrooms and alcoves that can accommodate desks and other work equipment, a trend that has only accelerated in the pandemic. The size of the average new apartment has increased 9.6 percent since the start of the pandemic compared with those delivered in the 10 years before the pandemic, said Matt Vance, a senior economist for the real estate services firm CBRE. The increase is equal to an extra 90 square feet, or the size of a bedroom or work space.

He added that the demand for work spaces has extended to common areas, too. “Over the last decade, we have had cybercafes with booths and coffee machines, shared spaces in apartment buildings,” he said.

But as Americans settle into a hybrid work model, they are seeking more professional spaces where they can hold a private Zoom call or gather clients for …….


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