PDA

View Full Version : For Tower Residents, a New Math



JMGarcia
May 8th, 2003, 08:48 AM
By RALPH GARDNER Jr.
NY Times

EXCITED about his purchase of a $2 million, 67th-floor apartment at the AOL Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle, the buyer decided to sit in Central Park on a spring afternoon and count the floors. "It was presented as an 80-story building," said the homeowner, a marketing executive for an international company, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I kept counting and coming up with 69 floors. If I'm right, I'm 13 floors lower. I'd be on 56. That's terribly disappointing."

While the practice of misnumbering floors in some of the city's most opulent buildings has been going on for some time starting, of course, with omitting the 13th floor to appease the superstitious the sleight of hand has become more blatant with the arrival of Trump World Tower, opposite the United Nations, and the double towers being developed by the Related Companies for the AOL Time Warner complex, projects whose sex appeal and marketability turn, at least in part, on their soaring height.

"Donald Trump is the father of this," said Richard Wallgren, director of sales at the AOL building, which will be ready for occupancy this fall. "He'd say, `This building has 75 stories.' Of course, when you counted, they were missing 10 stories because he gave the lobby 15 stories or something, and apartments would start on 16."

AOL explains the new calculus like this: if they use the average height of a ceiling in New York, 8 feet 8 inches, as their standard, the AOL towers, which were recently topped off at 750 feet each, could be counted as having 80 floors, even if they do not. (The apartments at the AOL tower have ceilings that are 10 feet or higher, so there are fewer actual floors.)

"It's a sales gimmick," said Frank Williams, the architect for Trump Palace at 68th Street and Third Avenue, at 623 feet, the tallest building on the Upper East Side. The Trump Palace modestly counts one floor per floor, for a total of 55 floors. "The second floor is the second floor," he explained. But Trump World, the new 900- foot-tall building near the United Nations, which is already occupied, bills itself as having 90 stories; in fact, it has 72 floors.

Mr. Trump is not bashful about his innovation. "A lot of people have copied me," he boasted. He said he was showing restraint when he divided Trump World's height by 10 feet rather than, say, 9 feet.

"I could have gone higher than 90 stories," he said, using the term "higher" numerically rather than altitudinally. "I chose 90 because I thought it was a good number."

The mischief often occurs in mixed-use residential-commercial buildings, where there may be a health club on top of a movie theater and then a dozen floors of offices before the apartments start. Separate elevator banks for commercial and residential spaces further disguise the ruse.

The Park Imperial, at Broadway and 56th Street, will be occupied by the German media giant Bertelsmann and its Random House division up to the 26th floor. A separate entrance for residents, who have already moved in, leads to elevators starting one floor up, at what is labeled the 48th floor. (The 48th floor is only 360 feet up, allowing a scant seven and a half feet for each hypothetical floor.) There is nothing illegal about arbitrary floor numbers. The New York City Department of Buildings takes no position on the issue. "In terms of, I guess, what you'd call vanity floors, we don't address that," Elise Fink, a spokeswoman for the department, said. "The code does require that you number your floors, but it does not specify your sequence."

Oliver A. Rosengart, a lawyer with the state attorney general's office, said, "The sponsors can call the floors whatever they want, but we require that the offering plan state how many floors there really are." For example, potential buyers at the 716-foot Metropolitan Tower on West 57th Street could go back to that building's 1986 offering plan for an explanation if they happened to notice that the buttons in the building's elevator suddenly skip from 17 to 30. The developer, the Macklowe Organization, decided to call its building 78 stories high, even though there are only 66 floors. Ironically, Carnegie Hall Tower, right next door, is 757 feet, but modestly claims 60 stories.

Mr. Trump said he originated this marketing strategy when he built Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in the early 1980's. He did not see why he should be forced to call the first residential floor something mundane like the second floor, or even the 20th floor, since there was a lovely atrium and 19 commercial floors beneath the residences. Employing Trump Math, he called the first residential floor the 30th floor.

"It was all approved," Mr. Trump said. "I brought it before the various agencies and got them to agree that I could start the building at Floor 30, because it equated to approximately 300 feet above ground."

Nonetheless, at Trump International at 1 Central Park West, a conversion of the 45-story Gulf & Western Building into a 52-story hotel and residential building, buyers were required to sign a document stating that even though they had purchased an apartment on the "27th" floor, for instance, they knew they were really buying an apartment on the 20th floor.

While this may seem something less than truth in advertising sort of equivalent to that disclaimer on cereal boxes that "some settling of contents may have occurred during shipping" nobody seems to have raised much of a fuss.

"We've never lost a deal," Mr. Wallgren said.

Robert Griffin, a retired banker who recently moved into a 50th-floor apartment at Trump World, said he was fully aware of the building's strange floor numbers. "We're on the 50th floor," he said. "But there are 40 buttons beneath us."

HE knows because he counted. "You catch on pretty quickly," he said. "You get to 26 and the next floor is 33."

"I kidded his people," Mr. Griffin said. But it did not affect his decision to buy his $3 million, three-bedroom apartment.

"We didn't pick it because it was on the 50th floor," he said, but because he and his wife liked the location of the building and the layout of the apartment. Whatever the floor was called, it was high enough to see the East River over U.N. Plaza, which is why they wanted to move from Park Avenue in the first place.

Jaffa Levy, who lives with her husband, Eyal, on the 53rd floor of the Millennium Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side, said her apartment felt high even though it is actually on the 43rd floor, according to the building's offering plan. Part of the reason may be that the elevator bank services apartments only on Floors 44 to 56, making it hard to get any sense of perspective on the building. Her views include the Trump International on Central Park West. "If you stand there and look at Trump International, which is about 60 floors, you're almost on the same level," she said. That may be because Trump International was a shorter building before Mr. Trump redid the numbering.

Perhaps people want to be duped. "People are very happy," Mr. Trump said. "They like to have apartments that have height, the psychology of it." (Or the psychology of the illusion of it.)

Particularly men, it seems. "It's a male thing," Kathy Sloane, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens, said. "I don't think women care how high their apartment is. They care about views. I don't have women customers who come to me and say, `Show me the highest point in New York.' "

And if quality is equated with height, it pays for the buyers to wink at the developer's shenanigans. A purchaser at Trump International who knows his apartment is really on a lower floor than advertised would speak only through a friend because, his friend said, "he didn't want his value to go anywhere."

"People really like the system," Mr. Trump said. "Even the buyers."

ZippyTheChimp
May 8th, 2003, 09:16 AM
EXCITED about his purchase of a $2 million, 67th-floor apartment at the AOL Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle, the buyer decided to sit in Central Park on a spring * *afternoon and count the floors. "It was presented as an 80-story building," said the homeowner, a marketing executive for an international company, who spoke on *condition of anonymity. "I kept counting and coming up with 69 floors. If I'm right, I'm 13 floors lower. I'd be on 56. That's terribly disappointing."


This wouldn't have happenned if he read this forum.

Fabb
May 8th, 2003, 12:11 PM
It's a new math for any kind of building, apparently.
I've about some project (but I don't remember precisely), that included a restaurant at the 110th floor.

The architect must have learned his lesson from Trump.

TAFisher123
May 8th, 2003, 12:15 PM
"I kept counting and coming up with 69 floors. If I'm right, I'm 13 floors lower. I'd be on 56. That's terribly disappointing."

Poor Mr Billionaire, I feel really bad for this guy, i wish there was something i could do....at least your not living in a van down by the river

OKoranjes
May 8th, 2003, 04:43 PM
ha.

Lightning Homer
May 8th, 2003, 05:13 PM
Eiffel Tower (thousand feet and somethin') counts only 3 floors *!

Those French... most honnest people on Earth ? ;)

TLOZ Link5
May 8th, 2003, 06:40 PM
Trump Tower was in fact listed for years as having 68 floors. *In reality, there are only 58.

But still, imagine if those buildings really had that many stories; we'd have a much taller city, that's for sure...

Fabb
May 9th, 2003, 10:46 AM
Quote: from Lightning Homer on 4:13 pm on May 8, 2003
Eiffel Tower (thousand feet and somethin') counts only 3 floors *!



Actually, there are 6 of them.
But it's a well-kept secret.

Kris
May 9th, 2003, 11:46 AM
Those sneaks.

Lightning Homer
May 9th, 2003, 02:20 PM
Well, it had been built a quite long time ago ! :biggrin:

Fabb
May 10th, 2003, 05:06 AM
The year is 1889.


Perhaps people want to be duped. "People are very happy," Mr. Trump said. "They like to have apartments that have height, the psychology of it.

Trump is right.
And his way of counting floors might have a positive side effect. If a building is planned to have, say, 70 true floors, it will seem far less exceptional.
And a giant could rise silently.
Far-fetched ?

ZippyTheChimp
May 10th, 2003, 08:34 AM
Caveat emptor

If you can afford *millions for an apartment, you can spend a little on research. If your main concern is the views, then what's important is height from ground, and that of surrounding buildings.

You don't need to be smart to make a lot of money.