Luxury real estate is forever reinventing itself, responding to cultural shifts with cutting-edge amenities aimed at the one percent. But those same trends soon trickle down to the rest of us, eventually becoming modern must-haves.
(Remember: indoor plumbing was once a hoity-toity perk.) So Alexa took a look at the state-of-the-art developments (in New York, Miami and beyond) to unearth the emerging trends that will soon be essential for any luxe residence.
Invisible or outré, they define the vanguard of living right now — from drone landing pads and at-home IMAX theaters to nighttime gardens meant to be enjoyed by moonlight.
Join us for a tour.
Ready for some real Jetsons-style living? You’ll need your own drone landing pad. Ten50, a 25-story condo tower in Downtown LA, features just such a pioneering perch on its leisure deck. So residents can skip the traffic and receive mini-copter deliveries while working out or lounging by the pool.
These pads are sure to pop up everywhere in the coming years, as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has already received FAA approval for his company’s drone trial, while QuiQui is readying a rollout of its drugstore drone-delivery service in San Francisco.
If you’re more “Downton Abbey” than digital native, opt for a spot in New York’s soon-to-complete Hudson Yards on the Far West Side.
Delivery there is determinedly analog, though you can customize how the staffers drop off your mail, whether hand-carried to your apartment at a scheduled time or rerouted to your personal drone — err, assistant.
Lavish greenspaces — lovely as they may be — are a wasted asset for most hard-charging New Yorkers, who can rarely loll at home during daylight hours to enjoy them. The genius fix? A moon garden, designed to bloom in the twilight hours, when residents are actually home to enjoy it. Sutton 57 (in Sutton Place) first debuted the concept, filling its al fresco areas with nocturnal flora that release their fragrances under moonlight rather than sunshine. A similar moon garden is underway in the courtyard of the West Village’s Printing House; the nighttime den will feature up-lit planting beds, footpath lighting and heady, night-scented hydrangeas.
Elegant residences now come with mini Lincoln Centers attached, offering a slew of culture-focused amenities for homeowners.
The new 520 West 28th Zaha Hadid building in West Chelsea incorporates Manhattan’s first private IMAX theater for its denizens (though it’ll have to compete with the spectacle of the nearby High Line). There’s also a 25-seat indoor/outdoor theater at 56 Leonard; expect celebrity residents to stage spontaneous private plays between movie screenings.
Curated libraries, meanwhile, offer a quiet space to read and relax away from the hoi polloi. Assouline has produced art book-stuffed hideouts for West Chelsea’s Caledonia, Midtown’s 432 Park Avenue and The Shephard in the West Village. Juniper Books is another private-library specialist, though its projects — for Icon Brickell in Miami or NYC’s Sky building — have a more literary bent.
But you’ll have to move to LA to enjoy arguably the craziest cultural asset. Chinese developer Wanda’s One Beverly Hills has a high-tech media room that can be configured as an ad hoc recording studio for pop-star (or just karaoke-loving) residents.
House, Heal Thyself.
Forget the nanny or the chef, today’s most beloved staff member is a house healer. These New Age handymen walk around homes with dowsing rods to detect any on-site energy problems. Once the building’s psychic ailments are diagnosed, the healer will treat them with crystals, flowers or perhaps some sage-burning.
Even hard-to-please producer Simon Cowell is a believer, tweeting: “Today I had someone heal my house. Strange but great. The healer brings in good energy.” Lois Kramer Perez is one of the New York City area’s top practitioners.
Three adjoining new-build homes in suburban New Jersey, long on the market, all went into contract within five days of her recent visit. “Each case is unique,” she tells Alexa. “It may be Earth energies known as geopathic stress, or simply the energy the occupants deposit in their space.”
Developers Cogswell Lee, meanwhile, brought a feng-shui master in for a site-cleansing ceremony when it began conversion of the erstwhile Streit’s Matzo factory on the LES into 150 Rivington’s luxury condos. And concrete used in the groundbreaking for Santa Monica’s new Seychelle condo complex was mixed with energy-positive crystals to give the building both literal and spiritual foundations.
Model-turned-trainer Jay Wright knows a thing about sweat equity. His firm, the Wright Fit, has masterplanned gyms for well-heeled workouts in the city’s most high-end developments, including 15 Central Park West, Jean Nouvel’s 53 West 53rd Street MoMA tower, the soaring 432 Park Avenue and 56 Leonard in Tribeca.
But one of his latest wellness centers, for Yorkville’s Citizen360, now emphasizes spiritual amenities — thanks to a collaboration with designer Clodagh. She installed an infrared sauna that mimics the heat of the sun, easing joint pain while speeding oxygen flow around the body.
In another wellness facility project for West Chelsea’s Abington House, she focused on natural materials that keep residents centered. The walls of the gym are decorated with pixilated birch-forest wallpaper, while a spattering of wooden stools ground the electromagnetic fields produced by the whirring machines. Meanwhile, a rooftop meditation nook at Noho’s 7 Bond Street was built with electromagnetic frequency-blocking insulation.
Security has become the one percent’s chief concern — just ask Kim Kardashian. The man who luxe NYC projects often tap to create fortresslike homes is Alon Alexander of Kent Services. He recently installed the futuristic FST21 system in 323 Park Avenue South. Designed for the Israeli military, the setup merges facial-, voice- and behavioral-recognition technology into an unhackable and secure keyless-entry system.
Indeed, keyless living (which relies on biomarkers like these) is today’s industry standard. See the facial-recognition system granting entry to Miami’s Rafael Viñoly-designed One River Point and the nearby Regalia, where amenities like wine vaults are accessed with a James Bond-like thumbprint scanner.
Alexander also recommends smart cameras like the one his firm installed at the celeb-heavy 92 Greene Street, where both Lindsay Lohan and Derek Lam have lived.
The software automatically sifts shifty-looking loiterers from Soho’s shopping crowds — lurk for more than 45 seconds and you’re flagged to human security staff.
Family-friendly NYC developments have discovered a new sales strategy: Wow the wee ones. Designers and architects are incorporating knock-their-socks-off kids amenities to lure in buyers. The Kent, on the Upper East Side, will debut Camp Kent, a two-story play complex designed to evoke an African safari, complete with an enormous treehouse.
Inspired by the cobbled streets of Tribeca, 70 Vestry’s the Block, meanwhile, offers Manhattan in microcosm, complete with a child-size farmers market. In South Harlem, Circa Central Park’s rec room is crammed with Macs and game consoles expressly aimed at tweens, while the stroller valet at Park Slope’s 251 First Street provides a permanent (or short-term) garage for up to 45 prams.
The coolest kid heaven, though, may be at Yorkville’s Colorado.
A large playroom (equipped with low toilets to help with potty training) will be accompanied by an organic garden with a “no unaccompanied adults” rule.
There, junior residents can learn about growing plants and flowers or cool off on one of the playful concrete stools equipped with water spray jets.
What will they dream up tomorrow?