Everybody loves Cooper for a reason. She gives a damn. Check outHell on Earth; Darfur.The Dawg and MizB are tied at Sar’s caption contest. As they’re two of my favorite people this is way more exciting than it should be. My post might sound like whining. When a person pays so much to get so little, and lacks basic amenities that most other people in most other cities at the same income and age bracket take for granted, I will whine. This post in no reflects my feelings for individuals of any generation. We all tend to think that we invented the wheel. And none of us did!
Should explain that many coops charge maintenance per room rather than per square feet. Therefore though I have only 600 square feet, a kitchen in the foyer that stymies kitchen designers, and no river view I don’t pay all that much less in maintenance than a person who has an 850 square foot apartment with views of the Hudson.
The New York Times answer is different than the ones I have been given including one previously by The Times which states that while views, floors and square feet do play a factor it is the number of rooms as determined by the apartment’s certificate of habitability that counts, and is impossible to change now.
Even I am sick of listening to me complain about life in New York, so on Monday, Little Luce who is fifteen and has lived in Manhattan all her life will do a guest post on a concert we attended when she was little. Had no idea that it had such a big impact on her.
This turned into a post with a reprint of an article in The Times on a subject that I feel strongly about. Washers & dryers, the lengths Manhattanites will go to get one, the amount of money we will pay, and the envy of people like me who don’t have one.
It happens to be the only household chore that I not only enjoy but am good at, aside from arranging food, decorating and making things look good. Used to be a good cook, but a real kitchen would help me re-discover the joy of cooking. My building allows washer-dryer’s, I just don’t have the space.
Sometimes I feel that Manhattanites are supposed to suffer by paying unimaginable prices for everything so that the rest of the nation can secretly feel superior. While rationally I know that’s not true…..
When you watch your big screen plasma TV, I have my 27″ Sony. I can neither afford or have the space for a flat screen TV. Yes I might have easier access to movie theaters, but at $10.75, not including Fandango charges which are needed at all peak times, movie going becomes expensive.
We might have more concert venues and clubs but they too are pricey. Living in New York has never been easy but there were affordable things to do. Like many New Yorker’s I live for summer because there are so many free outdoor activities. Summer in New York can be very hot, humid and rainy.
It’s not the type of heat, and humidity, that you’re used to as it rises from the cement. It’s fun when you’re young to schlep chairs and picnic stuff to parks, but it’s no longer fun to me. And many 20somethings are too used to luxury to find pleasure in the simple things.
I would have never thought that a summer group rental in the Hamptons had to have air-condtioning and ammenities as my apartment in the city didn’t. That was for later, for the time in my life marked “later,” that I suppose is now, but who wants a group rental anywhere?
New York used to be an incredible place as we all sort of suffered together. I showed the reaction that a potential strike got in my building. “Let the dorks volunteer.” It’s an attitude that scares me for the future of this city and this country.
There’s something so right about living in walk-ups and moldy summer houses in your 20’s and so wrong about it later.
These are people who have summer houses to escape to year round. Watched people run from New York to their summer houses during the first 9/11 week.
People probably think that I’m an idiot for not taking a mortgage on a summer home when the selling price will appreciate. I have lived through too many bad housing markets to believe that. I know I’m an idiot for not buying an amazing condo near Ann Rice’s just North of South Beach for $40,000 in 1994. I knew that it was a great buy then, and have no desire to know how much it is worth now.
Of course New York is in my heart, in my soul, and very much in my lungs. When I told Lucia about the bike path that stretches from Malibu 25 miles south, I knew that I was also longing for space, warmth, a real kitchen with room to cook, a dishwasher, and yes that most amazing of all modern conveniences, my own washer-dryer. While Santa Monica/Venice is by no means cheap, I would have that all there, and as a New Yorker could afford it. The cost of living is much cheaper; I have researched that. And life is so much easier there. To live walking distance from the ocean is worth everything to me.
And for her the washer-dryer has been a rite of passage. “You’re not really grown up until you have your own washer-dryer,” she said.
IN Manhattan, almost any pleasure, privilege or convenience can be conjured for a price. But for apartment dwellers, few things pierce the fantasy of entitlement â€” or level the urban-suburban playing field â€” so swiftly as the denial of a humble household amenity known as the washer-dryer.
An everyday convenience just about everywhere else is a rarity in Manhattan, even in million-dollar apartments: the washer-dryer.
“I get this all the time,” said Daniela Kunen, a managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “People feel when they’re spending millions of dollars, they want a washer-dryer, and they should have it. They feel deprived of a basic need that they would be getting anywhere else.
And deprived they are. It’s difficult to say how many Manhattan apartments have or permit washer-dryers, but as of the end of March, only 17 percent of the active listings indicated that washer-dryers were allowed, according to Miller Samuel, a Manhattan appraisal firm.
The situation is even bleaker for rentals: only about 5 percent allow washer-dryers, according to Gordon Golub, a senior managing director at Citi Habitats. The laundry-endowed rentals, which command a 10 to 15 percent premium, are typically limited to newer buildings in areas like Battery Park City and the West 30’s and 40’s. But Mr. Golub said that washer-dryers can sometimes be found in family-size prewar rentals.
In New York, the hunger for private laundry facilities is an old story fueled by nervous co-op and condo boards, which often ban washer-dryers for fear of overwhelming their buildings’ aging plumbing. For their part, frustrated residents have long resorted to bribing supers, smuggling in washer-dryers inside television boxes, and installing them without permission or permits, often concealed inside specially designed (and occasionally locked) cupboards or closets.
The less rebellious choose from other time-honored options: the more fortunate can have the housekeeper or baby sitter do the laundry, and everyone else can either say goodbye to white whites and send clothes out, or descend to the depths of the basement laundry room.
But change â€” or at least the agitation for it â€” may be in the air. Brokers attribute a heightened keening for a washer-dryer of one’s own to the growing number of families raising children in the city, the higher bar set by new luxury condos where the appliances are a standard amenity, and the expectation of more bang for an increasingly outsize real estate buck.
“Now that apartment prices have skyrocketed, it’s hard for people to fathom that they’re going to spend $2 million on an apartment and have to go to the basement to do laundry,” Ms. Kunen said.
In terms of real dollars, it isn’t so much what a washer-dryer adds to an apartment’s value as what its absence subtracts. This can be a deal killer for a certain type of buyer, particularly families with young children, and a price buster for a certain type of dwelling.
“As the apartment gets larger, a washer-dryer is more of an issue,” said Lisa Lippman, a senior vice president of Brown Harris Stevens. “In a studio or one-bedroom, you don’t expect it. In a two-bedroom, it’s a really great feature and definitely a selling feature. And when you get up to a three-bedroom, it actually becomes a liability not to have one. It’s going to lower the value of the apartment.”
Take the case of the $325,000 washer-dryer. Two years ago, Ms. Lippman handled the sale of a three-bedroom prewar apartment on the Upper East Side that garnered three offers at its listing price, $1.6 million. But when told that the existing washer-dryer had to be removed upon the sale of apartment, two sets of buyers backed out, while the third dropped the bid to $1.275 million. (Even more happily for the buyers, the board let them keep the washer-dryer after all.)
Washer-dryer units â€” typically stackable and often ventless, which can require emptying trays of condensed water from the dryer â€” are routine in most new construction. “If you don’t put in a washer-dryer, you have to do a big laundry room, and I think the laundry room has a connotation of an old 60’s concept,” said Veronica W. Hackett, a co-founder of the Clarett Group, a developer whose properties include Chelsea House at 130 West 19th Street and Sky House at 11 East 29th Street.
At the same time, the proliferation of the appliances in nouveaux condos is making restrictions in older buildings less palatable, particularly among buyers who can afford to choose.
“I think a lot of people put up with it when there weren’t as many other options,” said Alan Kersh, a 46-year-old investment banker who is working with Bruce Roland of Bellmarc to find a three- or four-bedroom apartment in the $2.5 million range on the Upper East Side. “Now, new construction in the past decade has put a lot of high-end apartments on the market with washer-dryers, and people are less willing to make that sacrifice if they don’t have to.”
Mr. Kersh and his wife, Candice, 42, have 8-year-old twin sons â€” and a housekeeper to do the laundry â€” but they want a washer-dryer in the apartment, particularly for the odd loads of laundry they will do themselves when the housekeeper is not around. Over the last three months, the couple have rejected several otherwise ideal apartments in pre- and postwar buildings that don’t permit washer-dryers.
Mr. Kersh may have missed an earlier window of opportunity. During the heady days of co-op conversions in the 1980’s, more permissive attitudes are said to have prevailed as renters-turned-owners embraced certain freedoms withheld by risk-averse landlords. But as problems cropped up, many buildings reversed course and enacted rules requiring the washer-dryers to be removed when the apartments were sold.
So why, exactly, are city dwellers denied the prosaic appliances their suburban neighbors take for granted? And are buildings being too conservative in outlawing washer-dryers?
“The biggest issue is sudsing,” not flooding, said Paul J. Herman, an executive vice president and the director of management at Brown Harris Stevens Residential Management. He said that soap suds can back up through the drains of lower-floor apartments from washers in use on higher floors.
But apart from a drainage problem that affects an entire building, blanket prohibitions against washer-dryers simply don’t make much sense, said Philip J. Kraus, the president of the Fred Smith Plumbing and Heating Company in Manhattan. He added that buildings would be wise to evaluate each line of apartments separately.
There are several reasons that co-op and condo boards may be loath to do so. Their members are volunteers, after all, and they may be reluctant to invest time and energy in a process that could favor some owners over others, or to approve anything that may result in liability. They have a ready excuse in the form of engineers’ reports and in managing agents who counsel them to err on the conservative side.
In some cases, a building may have a direct monetary incentive to refuse permission: the vendors who run laundry rooms will often pay higher rent in a building that prohibits individual washer-dryers. The prohibition may even be written into the contract.
Denied what they consider their inalienable right to a washer-dryer, some apartment dwellers take matters into their own hands. Miriam Sirota, a vice president of the Corcoran Group, said that when her prewar East Village building conducted a study, it found that 20 of the 100 apartments contained illegally installed appliances.
(The board promised owners and their machines amnesty for cooperating with the survey, and it eventually decided to require that the appliances be removed upon the sale of the apartments.)
Those familiar with the dark art of back-alley installation said that tips to the super might run $500 to $1,000, and that the appliances were usually delivered in the cardboard equivalent of a moustache and glasses.
“Gracious Home is very accustomed to transporting washer-dryers in refrigerator cartons or air-conditioner boxes,” said Wendy Sarasohn, a senior vice president of Corcoran, whose six-year-long personal quest for an apartment with a washer-dryer recently ended with a stackable European unit whose controls have so far outwitted her.
(At Gracious Home, which sells stackable washer-dryers for $1,200 to $3,600, Carol Kappenhagen, a spokeswoman, said that while the store won’t do anything illegal, “we are extremely customer-oriented.”)
Plumbers who aid and abet are often instructed to dress incognito and avoid blurting out their mission to the doorman, and they are carefully vetted for their skill (a flood is the red flag of noncompliance) and willingness to forgo filing with the city’s Buildings Department.
The units should not be connected to the sink. Such hookups, particularly popular with all-in-one units used for very light loads, are notorious for causing problems like flooding a kitchen, Mr. Herman and Mr. Kraus said.
Residents caught with a contraband unit typically receive a letter from the managing agent asking them to remove it. Appeals to the board are often waged at this stage and have been known to succeed if, say, the machines were there when the apartment was purchased. It can help to present the board with an engineer’s report attesting to the washer-dryer’s harmlessness.
“Most of the time the buildings never find out, because I think resident managers and superintendents don’t want to be tattletales,” said Mr. Herman of Brown Harris Stevens. “That happens with pets as well.”
To discourage illicit installations and avoid falling behind on amenities, a number of buildings are upgrading their laundry rooms. “They’re brighter, they’re bigger, there are more units and more hours,” said Janice Silver, the executive vice president for sales and marketing at Bellmarc. “I’m seeing them free in smaller co-ops like 10 to 20 units. The laundry room is also becoming a comfy, cozy place.”
Still, for many people, there’s no place like home.
Danielle S. Sevier, a broker at JC DeNiro, is still giddy after adding a washer-dryer to her West Village apartment a year ago. “I can do laundry at midnight, at 8 in the morning,” said Ms. Sevier, who typically does six loads a week.
Having her own washer-dryer has been a money saver, she said. Saving all the quarters that would have been spent in the laundry room, she amassed $750 in less than a year, enough to pay for a summer vacation with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.
And for her the washer-dryer has been a rite of passage. “You’re not really grown up until you have your own washer-dryer,” she said.