Volume 18 • Issue 44 | March 17 - 23, 2006

Talking Point

Moving from the frat house to Wall Street

By Jean Marie Hackett
Throwing away a film of lint from the dryer, my eyes catch the following notice, posted on a laundry room window that looks out upon a landscaped outdoor terrace:

Dear Residents,

Please do not throw litter (such as cigarette butts, gum, cans, water, etc.) out of your apartment windows or over outdoor public terrace walls. This causes hazardous and objectionable conditions for pedestrians and tenants below.
We thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

A few minutes later, I leave the laundry room and wedge myself and 25 pounds of laundry into an elevator packed with 20-somethings dressed in the latest trends, struggling to ignore the piteous glances coming from their made-up eyes. I lower my gaze to the level of their designer shoes, praying only that my video-gamer neighbor won’t wake me up again tonight with his subwoofer. It’s Saturday night.

Ah, college. Remember when life came with a meal plan, a free gym and a bevy of drunken frat boys?

But this isn’t college. This is upscale living in the Financial District. In a hub otherwise occupied by investment banks and law firms, new high-rise apartment buildings and condos are springing up on every other corner. Billed as “luxury” apartments, these buildings offer more than just a bedroom — they promise an upscale life, replete with every amenity imaginable. And unlike the residents of your average college dorm, many of the tenants here already own their degrees, and probably log long hours at the investment banks and law firms down the street. Other residents attend N.Y.U., and may be lucky enough to have mom and dad’s names on the lease and the monthly rent checks. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find more than 20 people in my building who look over 30 — unless they are parents in town visiting their children.

The Web site for 2 Gold St. declares this lifestyle “24 karat living.” This means dry-cleaning, a 24-hour concierge, an A.T.M., and a DVD vending machine on the premises. There are common areas “where tenants and their guests can relax and socialize” with a plasma screen TV, pool table, “lounge seating” and wireless Internet. A rooftop sundeck with panoramic views completes the golden package.

Not to be outdone, 100 Maiden La. also offers a sundeck, a gym and a 24-hour concierge. The building’s brochure boasts a “Duplex Lounge” that is “an ideal place to meet your neighbors to shoot pool, play foosball, or entertain guests.” On the opposite page, a photo of a chess game is accompanied by the caption: “Checkmate! You’re right at home.” The ace of spades appears in another photo, where the caption declares: “You’ve aced the good life.”

Saturday night at 11 p.m. when I return from dinner, I step into the elevator to find a broken beer bottle rocking back and forth, a stream of its contents winding across the elevator floor to a dejected, dented can of the new alcoholic energy drink bearing the name “Sparks.”

Checkmate! I am right at home. I have aced the good life.

“ . . . Building Management got a complaint that some dumb guy after drinking about 10 beers took a whiz off the roof deck. What a dope,” reports a tenant on the 2 Gold St. message board. At www.apartmentratings.com, a 99 John St. tenant rants: “This building is overrun with students who treat the building like a dorm.…” A 2 Gold St. resident complains: “If you enjoy dorm living, this building is for you! It is like a Frat House.”

I guess somebody didn’t get the laundry room memo.

But a few isolated incidents aren’t enough to drag most residents down — or away — from a brand new (or newly renovated) building, which, compared to the rest of New York City rental buildings, is quiet and well-equipped. “You can’t beat the bang for the buck,” a 28 year-old Financial District resident e-mailed me, referring to the ability to get a sundeck, gym and 24-hour concierge all in the same package. But the young population does lead to dorm references. “Everyone here is very young; the buildings are all very similar in terms of the people,” says Frank, 26, who just moved to the neighborhood. “I tell everyone that I’m living in an upscale version of grad student housing,” he adds with a laugh. “I am 24,” writes Jessica, a resident of 2 Gold St. “So it seems like that is the age of most people in the building, too. (Aside from the kids that are in college and a bit younger.)” She “really likes” the building, but it “feels like a glorified dorm, though :).”

Wiping off my beautiful stainless steel appliances in my brand new kitchen, with rhythmic thuds of video game bass echoing in my walls, I gaze out my window at the Brooklyn Bridge, thinking…

At least it’s a dorm with a view.

Jean Marie Hackett is a freelance writer living in the Financial District.


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