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Picture this: You’re in your apartment (because where else would you be these days). The concierge staff has just dropped off individual cocktail bottles and pre-wrapped Boar’s Head snack trays. You hustle over to your computer—quick! You don’t want to be late for Zoom happy hour Bingo.
That’s life in in the pandemic, if you live in certain New York City and suburban buildings. In the past few weeks, classes, activities, and many kinds of events have migrated online—and buildings are following suit, offering creative—and in some cases extravagant—programs to keep renters and owners connected and entertained.
These are not the virtual equivalent of awkward wine-and-cheese building gatherings. Instead you’ll find cake decorating contests, cooking lessons with Food Network winners, sing-alongs with Broadway performers, yoga classes with famous yogis, and more. In many cases, supplies are dropped off at apartments so there's no need to shop or even rummage through cabinets for odd ingredients.
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RXR Realty, one of the developers embracing this trend, sees it as an extension of its regular programming.
“It’s important for everyone to feel connected and engaged in our communities, to stay healthy and to appreciate moments of diversion and delight, like the virtual concerts we host weekly,” says Whitney Acaro, executive vice president at RXR Realty.
Here’s a taste of the virtual programming being offered by luxury buildings during the pandemic.
Sharpen your cooking and baking skills
With more time on their hands, New Yorkers are cooking and baking much more, and buildings are tapping into that trend.
Harbor Landing, a rental building in Glen Cove, New York, held a cake decorating contest on Instagram. The concierge team delivered cake mix, icing, and decorations to the apartments. A total of 65 people participated and had two and a half hours to complete their creations and then post the final results on Instagram and tag the building. The winner, above, received a gift card to a local restaurant that delivers to the building.
Harbor Landing is where renters are playing virtual cocktail bingo via Zoom—with snacks and adult beverages to make it fun. Staff delivers individual bottles of cocktails and individually wrapped Boar’s Head snack trays to every apartment that wants to participate.
Renters at 475 Clermont in Brooklyn are taking part in weekly virtual cooking classes with Adriana Urbina, three-time winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” above. She is the building’s chef in residence, and she puts together a list of ingredients and recipes during the week and on the weekends, hosts a cooking show for residents to follow along.
At Extell’s One Manhattan Square, owners can take a range of classes and any necessary materials are delivered to their apartments, or any other address where they relocated. For the baking class, for example, residents can order ingredients for cookies and cream puffs, Earl Grey cake, or matcha chocolate brownies. There’s also cooking demonstrations as well as exercise and children’s programming, such as theatrical story time and sing-alongs for children accompanied by ukulele music.
For art’s sake
For other New Yorkers, art is the answer to staying sane in these strange times.
Residents at 108 Leonard (and members of the public too) can participate in live-streamed drawing classes with current artist in residence, Tabitha Whitley, above. The building has a long-standing partnership with the New York Academy of Art and has been working on ways to keep residents connected to the arts, such as having first access to NYAA’s digital archive.
If you live in an RXR building, on May 1st, you had the opportunity to request songs from a trio of Broadway performers. The interactive virtual event benefited the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDSs and the Actors Fund.
Residents in Brodsky apartment buildings in Manhattan participated in a photo challenge for residents who are working from home alongside a pet. The best photo on Instagram won a $100 Amazon gift card.
Get in shape
Sitting on your couch all day is not good for your waistline, and so lots of New Yorkers are getting creative with their workouts at home and buildings are also curating classes for residents.
Lifestyle concierge LIVunLtd, which has a partnership with buildings like One United Nations Park in Manhattan, has an extensive calendar of virtual experiences, including cooking classes, meditation, and yoga. Waterline Square, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has weekly fitness programming with certified fitness instructors, including Pilates, kickboxing, and yoga. The building also has cooking classes, Drag Queen Story Hour, and children’s puppet theater.
At 30 Warren, a boutique building in Tribeca, there are programs for interested buyers (the building opens later this year). It can arrange for yoga instruction from the neighborhood’s own celebrity yogis, Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee of Yoga Shanti. It also has virtual wine tastings with Paul Grieco, the founder and sommelier of Terroir Tribeca, a wine bar down the street; and private art classes with teachers from Church Street School for Music and Art.
The New Jersey-based developer KRE Group has new virtual exercise classes for residents at its buildings, which include Jersey City's Journal Squared and 485 Marin. The classes are also available to the public. You can take yoga, meditation, barre, kickboxing, and bootcamp-style workouts.
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