New York City, NY, USA

Walk-Up Apartments Fare Better (Sometimes) Than Elevator Buildings

Many New Yorkers avoid walk-up apartments at all costs, but some would gladly live in a home with a climb.

As any New Yorker who's had to haul furniture up five flights of stairs will tell you, walk-up apartments can be a nightmare. Still, there are many New Yorkers who love their walk-up apartments and consider that five-story climb to be a rite of passage. According to a recent article in the New York Times, some of us even prefer walk-up apartments over elevator buildings, whether it's for want of exercise or simply preferring the beauty of a prewar staircase.

Brett Leonhardt, who rents a one-bedroom walk-up apartment at 48 Bedford Street in the West Village, told the Times he wanted a walk-up because he likes the aesthetics of a building stairwell. "When your apartment may just be 500 feet, these areas can act as an extension of your home," Leonhardt says. Then there's Michael Kuszynski and Rui Lin, who recently bought an East Village one-bedroom walk-up for $650,000 because they simply wanted the charm of an old walk-up building. "I much prefer old buildings," Kuszynski said. "I really don't like sterile high-rises."

"Walk-ups can offer a wonderful combination of old prewar New York mixed with new design, and that can be hard to find in a cookie-cutter doorman building," Jordan Sachs, president of Bold New York real estate firm, told the Times.

Though you might not guess it from the recent glut of full-service luxury buildings, developers, too, have incentive to build walk-up buildings. Boris Drukker of Borough Builders decided to erect three walk-up buildings in Prospect Heights, instead of one seven-story elevator building, in order to lower the monthly carrying charges — because low carrying charges make homes easier to sell.

Don't believe the anecdotes? Then listen to the data: According to Citi Habitats, the average monthly rent for luxury walk-up one-bedrooms increased by 5.7 percent over the past year, compared with one-bedrooms in elevator buildings, which rose a mere .5 percent. In the bigger picture, sales of walk-up apartments rose 64 percent over the past year, compared with a 22 percent rise in full-service elevator buildings. Moreover, the price of walk-ups has increased by 22 percent in the past year, versus a 2 percent hike for full-service pads.

The data certainly confirms that the love for walk-ups is strong in New York — though we imagine even the most diehard walk-up fans will grumble after a large grocery haul.

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