Co-Living Grows Up – The New York Times


New Yorkers have long shared apartments in order to afford the city’s famously high rents. This, of course, often entails hunting down an apartment with a real estate agent — and paying a broker’s fee, plus a hefty deposit — then furnishing the place, lining up roommates and getting electricity and internet service up and running.

For several years, co-living companies have been popping up, providing a fast, streamlined alternative in the form of fully furnished, move-in-ready rooms in shared apartments.

Lately the trickle of co-living activity has become a torrent.

Homegrown companies are expanding into new neighborhoods. Brands that have built up their businesses elsewhere are planting their flags here. And even traditional real estate companies are getting into the act.

“No one wants to be left behind,” said Matthew Polci, a managing director at Mission Capital Advisors, which has been financing an increasing number of co-living projects.

But he found he liked the social activities in the building, which include weekly happy hours, as well as outings that he and other residents planned on their own, such as a trip to the Hamptons over the summer. The building provided an instant social network. And its location meant an easy commute to work.

Recently he renewed his lease, locking in a discounted rate of $1,600 because he signed for another six months. Mr. Athanasiadis, who is 30, said that eventually he will want his own place. For now, he added, “as long as the price is right I see no reason to move.”

Although Mr. Athanasiadis’s building is a six-story brick apartment house from the 1920s that was retrofitted for co-living, Simon Baron Development’s Alta+ rental tower, which opened in 2018 in Long Island City, devoted the second through the 16th of its 43 floors to co-living from the start. The co-living operator Ollie advised on the layouts of the 169 shared suites on those floors and now manages them.

The model co-living apartment is 918 square feet — the size of a one-bedroom one-bath apartment on the regular upper floors of the building. By eliminating the living room, Ollie managed to fit in three modestly sized bedrooms, two baths and a kitchen. And perhaps borrowing a page from the micro-unit trend, the company outfitted the bedrooms with Murphy beds and multifunctional furniture so they could each feel like a living room during the day.

While Alta+ combines co-living and conventional apartments in a single building, the Collective, a London-based company, is experimenting with co-living/hotel hybrids.

The company recently acquired a century-old industrial plant in Long Island City that had been converted to a 125-room hotel called the Paper Factory (the building once produced newsprint). After a few tweaks and a rebranding, the property was relaunched late last year as the Collective Paper Factory, offering rooms available for a single night or up to 29 (the maximum stay starts at $2,300).

And the Collective has three ground-up projects in progress. Working with Tower Holdings Group, a local developer, the company will soon begin constructing a 439-unit project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn; it will offer a combination of short- and long-stay rooms across three buildings. In southeast Williamsburg, it will build a 26-story tower with 246 co-living units and 306 hotel rooms. And a central Williamsburg project will combine 97 rooms of student housing with 127 studios for nightly and monthly stays. All rooms will have private baths.

The projects, which are expected to be completed in 2022, will also offer amenities associated with luxury housing. The southeast Williamsburg building, for instance, will have multiple lounges along with a hammam/spa and a music practice room.


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