Does living in a kid-friendly apartment building really make a difference? Let’s put it this way: Would you choose a babysitter or pediatrician who wasn’t kid-friendly? To find out if a particular building is up to scratch, check for the following:
Cleanliness, Security, Safety Of Public Areas
Why: It says a lot about how a building is operated and maintained—and how short of a leash you should be prepared to keep your kids on for safety reasons.
Do Your Research: Is the building entrance well-lit? Is the external door solid with a working deadbolt? Does the building have audio-video security? How easy is it for non-residents to get in the building? Is there more than one entrance? If there’s a doorman, does he check with residents before letting guests into the building?
Throughout the building, look out for lights that are out, peeling paint, the general dirt and grime level and wires hanging out of windows. The more signs of decrepitude, the more likely the building is under-maintained and may be in financial difficulty. Also, check for emergency lighting for sprinkler systems. Do the halls have fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fire alarms? This will help you see how up-to-date the building is for handling emergencies. And if you’re buying the apartment, request to see the building’s repair log.
Why: A doorman can cut down on unwanted intruders and help you manage getting your kids into the building in one piece.
Do Your Research: Ask the managing agent for the exact hours and days of duty, especially if it’s important to you that the door is manned 24/7.
Why: It can make a real difference to have assistance with middle-of-the-night emergencies like clogged toilets.
Do Your Research: Ask the managing agent about the super. Find out what hours he’s in the building, where he’s located when he’s not there and how he can be reached.
Why: There’s safety and fun in numbers. Your neighbors can shape the building’s attitude toward children and provide potential playmates and emergency child care backup.
Do Your Research: Use your eyes to determine whether there are kid residents. Ask to see a bike room and check for children’s equipment. See if the doors and halls have kids’ artwork. Check if there are window guards. And feel free to ask about the residents directly; you’re entitled to know ahead of time.
Why: It’s critical with kids. Having facilities in your unit is heavenly; having them in the building is important.
Do Your Research: Ask your agent or super about the facilities. If they’re shared, ask to see them and inquire about peak usage times. In a family building, it’s best to have one washer and dryer for every 8 to 10 units. If there are many single residents, fewer is fine.
Why: Kids have lots of stuff. Any extra space, from lockers to bike rooms, minimizes apartment clutter.
Do Your Research: Ask your agent or super if there is a communal storage room. If lockers are available, ask about the cost and waiting list for one.
Why: Bigger units indicate more resident families and opportunities for moving into a larger unit or combining units.
Do Your Research: Ask the building agent or manager for the various apartment configurations and how many of each size are in the building.
Why: Indoor play areas are great on rainy days, but outdoor play spaces get the most use.
Do Your Research: Look around and ask to see any kid-friendly or communal spaces.
Why: Need we say more?
Do Your Research: For public schools, refer to the Department of Education (schools.nyc.gov) and Insideschools (insideschools.org). For private schools, try the Independent School Admission Association (isaagny.org) and the Parents League (parentsleague.org).
Kathy Bishop and Julia Whitehead are the co-authors of The City Parent Handbook.
REAL ESTATE RESOURCES
For home listings
The New York Times nytimes.com
Street Easy streeteasy.com
For brokers (and their listings)
Brown Harris Stevens bhsusa.com
Corcoran Group corcoran.com
Halstead Property halstead.com
Prudential Douglas Elliman elliman.com
Sotheby’s Realty sothebysrealty.com
For New Developments And Other “Hot” Buildings
Street Easy is a reliable source for news of buildings that are new on the market or about to become available, as are the major brokerages listed above, which all have divisions that market buildings. You should also check out the websites of noted residential developers that are known for their work in the city.
Extell Development Company extelldev.com
Glenwood’s Paramount Tower: Located at 240 East 39th Street, every detail of Paramount Tower delivers exceptional luxury rental living. From the private semi-circular driveway and landscaped entrance to the elegant lobby and superb finishes throughout, every aspect boasts Glenwood’s signature attention to quality. Spacious residences range from one-, two- and three-bedroom homes. Full-service amenities include 24-hour doorman; cheerful children’s playroom and state-of-the-art swim and fitness center with landscaped, furnished sun terrace, 55-foot lap pool and saunas. For additional information, call 212.430.5900.
TF Cornerstone tfc.com