(Bloomberg) -- It was the gym and rooftop pool that persuaded Ardalan Khosrowpour to move into a 15th floor apartment in the Financial District almost a year ago. Now, both are off limits and the 29-year-old wants a rent reduction.
Khosrowpour has argued since April that without the perks, he shouldn’t have to pay the full $5,100 a month, especially when new tenants are getting discounts. So far, no luck.
“It seems unfair,” said Khosrowpour, who runs a small technology company. “I was expecting them to be more accommodating.”
New York landlords have for years waged an amenities arms race to pitch a glut of luxury properties, offering everything from bowling alleys to saltwater pools. Now, tenants are wondering whether their ritzy accommodations are still worth it.
The pandemic has sent some New Yorkers fleeing for more space in the suburbs, while younger residents have moved back with parents. Rent is dropping in Manhattan and tenants at upscale buildings are pushing for discounts.
So far, landlords don’t seem to be budging. They argue their costs are rising as they respond to the pandemic.
“It’s more expensive and requires much more focus and much more care to run a building,” said Richard Lebow, executive director of the World Wide Group, developer of QLIC, a luxury rental building in Long Island City. “The amenity that we’re offering now, in a Covid emergency, is safety and well-being.”
Residents in a Facebook group for QLIC have complained about amenity closures, including the pool. The building recently began offering two months free rent on certain units to tenants who sign a new lease. But when 28-year-old Frank Arsics, one of the current residents, asked for a reduction, he was rejected.
“They have been very adamant about that,” said Arsics, who works as a social media moderator.
At 50 West, a luxury condo building in downtown Manhattan where amenities including the sauna, arts and crafts room and jacuzzi are closed, residents have asked to reduce their monthly common charges. The fees range from $1,300 to $12,500, but the building’s developer, Time Equities, isn’t offering discounts.
The building has hired additional cleaning staff, purchased a UV sanitizer lamp to use on face masks and acquired a disinfectant fogger that can clean elevators, among other pandemic-related costs, according to Seth Coston, director of condominium operations for the company.
In addition to emphasizing safety standards, 50 West has tried to make up for lost perks: They’ve given out free jigsaw puzzles and screened art house films that couldn’t make it to theaters during the pandemic.
That wasn’t enough for Jake Montagnino, a 22-year-old business consultant who rents a condo from an owner at the building. He missed swimming, so he took a trip to the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, a five-star resort where the pools, bars, salons, and golf course were open.
“You crave that normalcy,” said Montagnino.
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