If you didn’t know better, you would probably swear that the condos available at the W New York Downtown Tower are already occupied. Designer furniture, wide-screen HDTVs, Warhol Prints, mid-century antiques, animal-skin throw rugs: The luxury condos at the W Tower feature detailed furnishings that make them feel like homes in the fullest sense of the word. The idea of a turnkey apartment is fairly commonplace for luxury rentals, but the W Tower - located at 123 Washington Street a block away from the One World Trade Center construction site in the Financial District - is taking the idea of fully-furnished condos to a whole new level. This innovation is yet another sign of the times; developers need a marketing edge more than ever. The people keeping Manhattan’s sluggish condo sales market afloat are usually either wealthy internationals looking for a pied-a-terre or buyers looking to become one-off landlords by renting their Manhattan properties, and the turnkey condos at W Tower cater specifically to both these groups. So far it seems to be working. After losing buyers in droves after the financial collapse in 2008, this new marketing technique is stimulating sales at W Tower for the first time in years.
Louise Sunshine, a highly respected figure in the Manhattan real estate world, has justly garnered a reputation for successfully marketing luxury condos by branding them as status symbols, which is partly why W Downtown developer Joseph Moinian hired Sunshine to create the new condo interiors. This move was specifically designed to improve sales by using the furnishings as a prominent selling point, and in this case it was badly needed: last fall, only 15 of the 223 condos listed on the market had sold. This was partly due to terrible timing - W Downtown went on the market in 2007 before it was built and pushed aggressively for international clients, but by the time it opened in 2010 sales had basically disappeared. Nonetheless, their problems were aesthetic as well: According to brokers, the most common complaint among potential buyers was that the apartments looked small. Sunshine addressed this by purchasing furniture scaled-down to Manhattan apartment sizes.
In the long run, Sunshine intends to capitalize on this trend by offering her services as an interior designer to other luxury condo buildings across the country. Sunshine told the Wall Street Journal that, “It is a way to increase the number of sales per month and increase prices in a challenging market.” In other words, a little furniture kills two birds with one stone. If W Tower continues to sell as it has in the past few weeks, she may be onto something. New York real estate developers are always looking for a marketing edge, and lavishly furnished turnkey apartments seem to fit the bill. Don’t be surprised if this new marketing strategy becomes a trend, because it doesn’t appear like much else is helping stimulate sales in the same way. The median price per square foor for the 39 condos listed on Streeteasy is $1,987, far above the Financial District’s median PPSQ of $1,200. Moinian clearly is confident that these apartments will sell, and if they do, expect to see a lot of other Manhattan condos decked to the nines.