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Frank Gehry’s 76-story ‘Inception’ luxury apartment building sees vacancies surge 26%

A luxury New York City apartment building that was once one of the most coveted properties in Manhattan has seen nearly a quarter of its almost 900 units become vacant as residents flee the Big Apple due to the coronavirus pandemic.

New York by Gehry, dubbed the ‘Inception’ tower, is a lavish 76-story sky-rise apartment on 8 Spruce Street that was the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere when it opened in 2011. 

It is dubbed the ‘Inception’ tower for its wavy metallic facade similar to the dreamy architecture of buildings in the 2010 film Inception, and boasts views of the city, a spa, swimming pool, drawing room with a grand piano, golf simulations, and its own elementary school. 

Now almost a quarter of its units are vacant, according to data company Trepp LLC, as residents flee New York City, which was early on the epicenter of the pandemic. 

In a bid to attract tenants, apartments are now being advertised with three months of free rent on 12-month leases, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

And current tenants have had negotiating power to lower their own rent.  Romain Lacombe, a packaging company executive who lives in the building, said his rent for his corner one-bedroom apartment with sweeping skyline views dropped from $4,900 to $3,600.

Luxury high-rise apartment New York by Gehry, dubbed the ‘Inception tower’, has seen nearly a quarter of its almost 900 units become vacant amid the coronavirus pandemic

When the building opened back in 2011 a penthouse cost $60,000 a month. 

Lacombe said that the silver lining of the exodus out of the building is that the common areas are less crowded and the elevators are faster.

‘It’s even better for us, living here with less people,’ he said. 

Tenant Amlan Nanda, a travel technology executive, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment in the building said that it started to empty out this summer and management has started up new activities to keep remaining tenants entertained.

A company called Luxury Attaché held Zoom events such as wine tastings, mixology classes, and occasionally a free breakfast.

‘It was a good experience, but I think maybe one of the reasons for that was that some people were moving out,’ Nanda said.

Beatriz Moitinho, a real estate agent at Keller Williams NYC, said that many of the buildings’ renters are international people and some clients left to their home countries when the pandemic first started. 

When the building opened back in 2011 a penthouse cost $60,000 a month

When the building opened back in 2011 a penthouse cost $60,000 a month

Now almost a quarter of its units are vacant, according to data company Trepp LLC, as residents flee New York City, which was early on the epicenter of the pandemic. In a bid to attract tenants, apartments are now being advertised with three months of free rent on 12-month leases. A view of one of the apartment units above

Now almost a quarter of its units are vacant, according to data company Trepp LLC, as residents flee New York City, which was early on the epicenter of the pandemic. In a bid to attract tenants, apartments are now being advertised with three months of free rent on 12-month leases. A view of one of the apartment units above

The luxury building features units with stunning Manhattan skyline views

The luxury building features units with stunning Manhattan skyline views

One tenant shared this photo on Instagram of the beautiful skyline views from her apartment window

One tenant shared this photo on Instagram of the beautiful skyline views from her apartment window

The complex boasts views of the city, a spa, swimming pool, drawing room with a grand piano, golf simulations, and its own elementary school

The complex boasts views of the city, a spa, swimming pool, drawing room with a grand piano, golf simulations, and its own elementary school

Amanda Mole, a pipe organist, who lives on the 64th floor of the building, said that by Thanksgiving more tenants were back in the building and lines started to get busier to pick up packages.  

Now the building’s vacancy rate is up 26.25 percent in the third quarter, as per data firm Trepp.

That’s a rise of 0.9 percent from 2014 and way past Manhattan’s overall vacancy rate of 6.14 percent as of October, as per Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. 

Overall luxury home sales in Manhattan are down more than 20 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared to the one year ago, according to Miller Samuel.

The building’s opening helped fuel the construction of more luxury high-rises in Manhattan over the past decade, but now they’ve emptied out and the Manhattan real estate market is in a crisis as young professionals flee to suburbs or cheaper cities.

One of its main attractions was that it was a short distance from Wall Street offices. But as finance professionals shifted to work from home amid the pandemic, the appeal isn’t a selling point anymore.

Architect Frank Gehry, who designed the iconic building, above

Architect Frank Gehry, who designed the iconic building, above

Since the start of pandemic there have been more than 460,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in New York city and more than 25,000 deaths A view of the empty streets on January 1 above

Since the start of pandemic there have been more than 460,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in New York city and more than 25,000 deaths A view of the empty streets on January 1 above 

The building’s owner is a venture of Brookfield Asset Management Inc, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, and a subsidiary of the National Electrical Benefit Fund.

Despite the crisis, Brookfield remains optimistic.

‘Occupancy at 8 Spruce has been on the rise, and we anticipate that accelerating dramatically in 2021. Given the building’s ideal location for those that will be looking to walk to the office in Lower Manhattan, we think 8 Spruce will be among the more highly sought-after buildings in the city,’ a spokesman for Brookfield said to the Journal.

DailyMail.com has reached out for further details. 

Since the start of pandemic there have been more than 460,000 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in New York city and more than 25,000 deaths. 


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