How high is high enough? As agents, we constantly address our various buyers’ preferences when it comes to floor height. “Absolutely no second floor!” “We have to clear the trees.” “I want to see the whole city!” “I need to be able to walk downstairs if there is a problem with the elevator.” While height preferences are extremely personal, there are a number of observations I would make about height related situations I have experienced over the course of my career.
- It isn’t necessarily quieter on a higher floor. Years ago I had a fabulous twelfth floor exclusive in one of the Triple A Central Park West buildings. Much of it faced the Park, which meant much of it also faced the open subway grate on the Park side of the street. If anything, the identical apartment on the third floor, available at the same time, was quieter. Noise is strange; it doesn’t behave in obvious ways. Sometimes it’s louder nine floors higher up. You just have to check and see.
- Lower floors can be prettier. Many of us real estate professionals realized this many years ago about Park Avenue. From the fourth floor, you look out on the beautifully planted medians in the middle of the avenue; it feels European. Whereas from the ninth floor, all you look at is the building across the street. The same is true, in my opinion, of the buildings surrounding several of the city’s pocket parks. I much prefer the fourth or fifth floor on Gramercy, where you can actually enjoy the planting in the park. Higher up, you see empty space. Not that there’s anything wrong with an open view, but I would rather look at the plantings and the streetscape.
- Second floor apartments can provide great value. It all depends on the building. Some buildings have extremely tall lobby ceilings and their second floor apartments are almost third floors. Certain views can be charming from the second floor, especially on side streets where the traffic is less ubiquitous or in the rear of buildings with planted courtyards or gardens.
- Buildings sway when they are extremely tall. The spate of new condominiums built in New York can be eighty or ninety stories high. They provide amazing, very white light and the most panoramic views imaginable of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs, all the way to the New Jersey mountains to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. They are affected by the wind, however. They move back and forth, frequently as much as a number of yards. Many people don’t notice it. Others feel seasick.
- Light changes around the 10th floor. Even with open exposures, the light on lower floors can have a denser character. As one ascends, the light gradually whitens, so that above about the 10th floor the quality of the light becomes more transparent and illuminating, conveying greater clarity.
Apartment dwellers are typically high-floor people or low-floor people. The latter tend to like the connection to street life and the ability to come or go via the stairs. The high-floor people like the panorama spread out before them – a bird’s eye view. And for many, the middle is just right. On the 7th through 12th floors people on the streets below don’t resemble ants, but one is also high enough above the sidewalk so that the often wonderful feeling of apartments floating in the atmosphere is fully present. It’s just a question of what you like.