With the development of new high end residential buildings such as Extel’s One 57, 150 Charles Street, the Rudin’s St. Vincent’s buildings, One Madison Park, 212 West 18th Street, etc roaring back to life in Manhattan, the question always arises at the marketing meetings: what is the next great amenity?
In the past ten years we have seen sleek gyms with swimming pools, rock climbing walls, playrooms, guest suites, En Suite Sky garages, pet spa’s, concierge’s…..so what could be the next big amenity? Maybe its high security……and here is why:
1) The financial crisis has not ended for many, and there is a strong argument to be made that for some it has only just begun. This inevitably results in lay-off’s. Wall Street banks are talking of TENS of thousands of lay-offs. BUt most of those people have safety nets. What about those kitchen staff who lose their jobs because there are not enough bankers frequenting the restaurants?
2) Politically, there is a much greater awareness than ever before at the vast and growing inequality between the rich and the poor, with the middle class eroding daily. Politicians will continue to broadcast this message loudly: On the right they will say how divisive the left is being and on the left they will say how unfair the system is. Both may be right, but the result will be division.
3) Most of our political and religious systems thrive on division: this drive towards anger is supposed to create loyalty to ‘the brand’. Anger is manageable when expressed in words, but it becomes a much greater threat when it heads to the streets.
4) Our ‘system’ has created an entire generation reliant on government support: take away any medicaid, social security, government jobs, unemployment benefits, etc and you could have a large chunk of people become very angry as we have witnessed in Greece where the culture is about wealthy people who do not want to pay taxes and another class that simply don’t want to work. That leaves everyone inbetween paying the bills…..and very angry. Now because of a crisis, raise and enforce taxation on the rich and reduce state-sponsord benefits and you have THREE very angry groups of people.
5) Many of the jobs lost over the past 3 years (and coming years) will simply never return. Machines, technology and longer work hours for remaining employees have replaced those jobs forever……and corporations LOVE the benefit to the bottom line. This leaves many unemployed for long periods of time and is possibly the most damaging consequence of a bad economy. With our education system ranking amongst the lowest of first world countries, re-educating these people for new careers does not seem to be the priority of any political movement, even though it should be.
6) Over the next 10 years almost 50% of all school kids will be minorities: Minorities do not have the culture of highly disciplined education and governments have neglected their education dreadfully. Culturally kids are encouraged to grow up to be a reality TV star, rapper or sports star, even though there are less than a handful of those positions available. We should learn from the Chinese about discipline: they too are a minority yet no-one talks about their incredible achievements in this country in spite of the traditional hardships associated with being a minority immigrant. Worse, many young college graduates are not finding jobs….these are the people who went nuts in Egypt and Spain.
7) Our immigration policies do not create the best environment to attract the best of the world. Those immigrating legally are tortured by the process and those who run across the border illegally often do not add much to the economy and are often a drain on federal and state resources.
With all this said, combined with Mayor Bloomberg’s recent warning’s of impending potential social unrest, I believe tight security will become one of the most desirable amenities in any high end residential building. A doorman alone will not cut it. And security that makes a home feel like a prison won’t cut it either. With many rather dubious characters with very new (substantial)wealth from foreign nations buying in these buildings, security will be even more critical. One Hyde Park in London is an example of a building that has fully recognized this new security threat. Some Russian oligarch’s employ their own personal security staff (one has reportedly 200!) for protection. These are the buyers of tomorrow of these super-luxe apartments, and buildings had better be prepared for their arrival; They’re here already.