The in-house butler is coming to Brooklyn.
From One Brooklyn Bridge Park on the Brooklyn Heights waterfront to No. Twenty Bayard and The Edge in Williamsburg, to One Hanson Place in Fort Greene, developers of luxury condo towers are luring pampered buyers from across the East River with personal concierges who will find a babysitter, hire a dog-walker, or even go grocery shopping for their too-busy-to-bother clients.
Call them what you will: valets, attaches, gofers, concierges, but these fancy fetchers will sit in well-appointed lobbies for one purpose — to serve the wealthy tenant (for a fee, of course).
Ian Levine, a spokesman for the 449-unit One Brooklyn Bridge Park, said that the condo building will have a 24/7 “valet.”
“We’ve seen a number of people moving from Manhattan to developments in the Brooklyn area and these types of services are things they’ve become accustomed to,” said Levine.
Existing concierge services, including two Brooklyn-based companies, are competing to benefit from the windfall.
It’s something of a David vs. Goliath fight.
Wielding the slingshot is Sharon Beason, a former accountant who capitalized on the growing demand for concierge services in 2006 when she founded All About Brooklyn. For now, Beason has 50 individual clients, but is going after the mother lode: large-scale luxury developments.
“A lot of these Downtown developers have hired concierge companies from Manhattan,” said Beason. “But I say, ‘Wait a minute. This is my territory.”
In fact, Beason is facing serious, and more established, competition here.
David Werner, who owns the Clinton Hill-based Prestige Valet and Concierge and works with more than 70 buildings in Manhattan, is aggressively courting the new Brooklyn market, one he claims is exploding.
“We’ll be doing a lot of work in Brooklyn,” said Werner, who is in negotiations with a number of large developments. Just recently, he secured the contract for One Brooklyn Bridge Park and No. Twenty Bayard.
“I think it’s almost certain that these new buildings, if they are high-end, will offer some sort of concierge services,” said Werner.
Sarah Burke, the vice president of the Developers Group, which is handling sales and marketing for condos at One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the old Jehovah’s Witness printing plant on Furman Street, agrees.
“In a building of 100 units or more, it’s almost expected in this day and age,” she said.
Indeed, much of this growth in the demand for concierge services in Brooklyn boils down to just that: expectations.
Back in the day, buyers didn’t expect to have it so easy, said Roslyn Huebener of Aguayo and Huebener Realty.
“When we came from Manhattan to Brooklyn, these services weren’t readily available in Manhattan,” said Huebener.
“But once someone introduces a service, and it’s perceived as desirable or a success, other buildings will provide it. … It’s expected in luxury buildings.”
That’s said, it’s hard for some Brooklynites, including at least one developer, to understand.
David Weiss, who built the Greene House in Fort Greene, said the essence of living in Brooklyn is its small-town character.
“What makes Brooklyn different is that people on some level prefer to have some relationship with their local vendors,” said Weiss. “Brooklyn types are willing to give up some convenience to be able to know their dry cleaner.”
But now, Huebener said, new residents “are Manhattanites who heretofore have not considered Brooklyn.”
Now that they’re not just considering, but moving to luxury high-rises in the borough, they’re bringing their expectations of convenience with them, and they’re expanding the market for concierge companies.
Inside the Prestige headquarters, in an industrial building on Waverly Avenue across from Steiner Studios in the Navy Yard, Werner proudly shows off his dry-cleaning plant, which employs about 20 people. The seven pressing machines sent clouds of steam rising over row after row of dry-cleaned, plastic-swathed pinstriped coats, skirts and pants — all destined for the bodies of their Manhattan owners.
Prestige has about 60 employees, including a more than 20-strong housecleaning crew and 10 valets who work in luxury buildings full-time. It serves more than 70 buildings in Manhattan.
Martin Ehrenfeld, the director of sales and marketing for No. Twenty Bayard, a 64-unit building set to welcome tenants in five weeks, toured the Prestige facility before recently deciding to partner with the company.
“I wanted to provide luxurious service,” Ehrenfeld told The Brooklyn Paper.
“The people moving into our building are coming from outside of Brooklyn and are used to Manhattan-like services,” said Ehrenfeld.
At One Hanson Place, the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, tenants wealthy enough to afford one of the 44 apartments in the “clocktower” portion of the building, the 23rd through 36th floors, will be served by Luxury Attache, an extremely high-end concierge service in Manhattan, and in Miami, Florida.
“It will do whatever the residents need them to do, like assist with move-ins and interior designs, get premium tickets to sold-out shows and concerts or sporting events, art and wine collection consultation, personal chef services, film premiere access, traveling plans, even dog-walking.” said Brenda Vemich, director of sales for building.
The developers of One Hanson Place will provide two years of such service starting this summer. Once the building has a functioning homeowners association, the association will decide whether to continue paying for the service.
Jenene Danenberg, the founding CEO of Luxury Attache, which serves 12 buildings in Manhattan, said her company offers “lifestyle management.”
“Our concierges and managers are proactive. So if they know if you like going to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, they’ll get you the schedule before it comes out to the public. They’ll help you find rare bottles of wine.”
Danenberg, for one, doesn’t anticipate Luxury Attache coming to more Brooklyn buildings anytime soon. That’s because those building’s units aren’t expensive enough because of Brooklyn’s lower real-estate values.
Buyers of $1-million apartments “are more penny-pinching,” said Danenberg. “We’re more about access rather than bargains.”
Danenberg will leave the Brooklyn market to people like Beason, who is pushing the Brooklyn-centric nature of her company. Alister Belfron, a Brooklyn Heights client of hers, is thrilled with the service.
“My daily routine is busy as it is,” said Belfron.
“If I have to go away for a couple days, and my partner has to go with me, we need someone who can provide not just the service, but a service we can be confident with.”