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Fifteen Central Park West (Zeckendorf Development) Fifteen Central Park West (Zeckendorf Development)
Thanks to advancements in technology, virtual building attendants are more sophisticated than ever, allowing residents to control access to their buildings from their phones. But as a recent lawsuit shows, there is no substitute for an in-person door attendant for some. A luxury buyer accused a brokerage of misrepresenting an apartment as being in a doorman building; as there is only a virtual attendant system in place, she no longer wants the apartment and is suing to get her deposit back. This article discusses the different types of doorman buildings and the types of services they provide, some of which can be signified by the types of uniforms they wear.

Types of doorman buildings

First, there are the stereotypical doorman buildings—the ones often depicted in films. These are generally luxury, pre-war buildings located on prime stretches of real estate along Park Avenue, Museum Mile, or Central Park West. In these buildings, you’ll not only find doormen but doormen dressed just like they do in the movies—in other words, wearing antiquated-looking uniforms with white gloves. These doormen will flag a cab for you in a downpour, open doors for you when you walk in or out of the building, and do basically anything else they can do, provided it is considered appropriate. But these aren’t the only doormen you’ll encounter in New York City.
Photo via Via Flickr cc
Most New York City doorman buildings are co-ops, many catering to middle-income families, and few of these buildings are “white-glove.” In fact, in most doorman buildings, the staff neither wear white gloves nor suits that look they were purchased after someone wrapped production on a costume drama set in the 19th century. But don’t judge a book by its cover. Even without the white gloves and tails, these doormen still do a lot of things for residents, including accepting packages, helping with heavy lifting, and greeting you and your family as you come and go throughout the day.

The final tier of buildings that are sometimes falsely classified as doormen buildings are those staffed with 24-hour security guards. In this case, you still do have someone sitting in the entrance and monitoring who comes and goes, but technically, their job is simply security. They may be nice to you or accept your packages, but this is technically not part of any security guard’s job. And this raises an important question: What are the actual duties of a doorman versus a security guard?

In a city where nice people often appear to be in short supply, the care and courtesy of doormen is something that many New Yorkers consider priceless.

Doormen do a lot more than open doors

To begin, if you have a doorman, you do get 24-hour security, and we’re just not talking about a sleepy guy nodding off in the corner of your building’s lobby. The best doormen know exactly who is in the building at any time. Many doorman buildings are so safe that residents don’t even always feel the need to lock their doors when running out to pick up groceries or go to the gym. But doormen do a lot more than provide security.

Doormen also carry out many convenient tasks on behalf of residents. For example, the doorman on staff always has access to your keys. If you lose your keys, they are there to ensure you can still access your unit, and they will also let your tween in if they arrive home early from school keyless. Likewise, if you’re out of town and your cousin comes to crash in your apartment, they can let in your carefully vetted guest. In addition, they are authorized to accept your packages 24/7 (that’s right, you’ll never lose an Amazon delivery again). Finally, they can give access to contractors, cleaners, and anyone else who might need to enter your apartment while you’re at work or out of town. This can be especially comforting to pied-a-terre owners.

The most important thing that doormen offer, however, is something that is much less visible—they manage effective relations. Let’s face it, New York City can be a nasty place to live. As a result, it is really nice to have someone greet you every morning, high-five your middle schooler when they come home from school, or recognize your mother and help her with her luggage when she comes to visit. Some doormen even dabble in helping tenants meet that special someone, like John Maldonado—the doorman who recently made a guest appearance in the Vows section of the New York Times after he successfully matched two residents.

In a city where nice people often appear to be in short supply, the care and courtesy of doormen is something that many New Yorkers consider priceless. But the fact that most doormen are nice is no coincidence. It really is part of their job. A recent posting for a doorman for a luxury building on the Upper West Side listed several practical skills—for example, tracking and logging the arrival of packages, opening doors, and maintaining the appearance of public areas, especially the lobby—but also listed a series of “soft skills.” This specific job posting emphasized that the right candidate will possess “excellent communication skills, have a memory for names and faces, and exhibit personal warmth toward others.”

The cost of personal warmth

If you want to live in a building with security and built-in personal warmth, it will cost a bit more. The cost of doormen is generally bundled in with other building fees, but on average, fees in doorman buildings do run much higher than they do in other buildings. In Manhattan, $1,400 per month is relatively low for a doorman building and fees can run upwards of $3,500 per month. Fees in buildings without doormen, by contrast, are often closer to $1,000 per month and can be much lower, depending on the neighborhood. But in a city with so many people screaming, yelling, and scowling, can you really put a price on daily personal warmth? For the thousands of New Yorkers who pay more to live in a doormen building, the answer is obvious.
NYC Doorman at the Plaza

New Listings in Doorman Buildings

456-West-167th-Street-01 Edgecombe Parc, #5E (Compass)
From the Listing: This spacious, rarely available corner apartment is well laid out with two large bedrooms, two full bathrooms, an open kitchen plan, and no shortage of sunlight. The apartment features a private balcony with park views, red-oak hardwood floors throughout, in-unit washer and dryer, an ensuite bathroom, and plenty of closet space. The unit has been maintained in pristine conditions and all appliances are just like new. Edgecombe Parc is a pet-friendly, full-service condo building in Washington Heights offering a doorman, bike room, gym, courtyard, as well as a roof deck with impressive views. See floor plan and full details here.

35-West-92nd-Street-01 35 West 92nd Street, #9F (Sotheby's International Realty)
From the Listing: High beamed ceilings, architectural arches, and hardwood floors are among the classic details in this ninth floor home. The entry hall and foyer lead into the abundantly-sized living and dining room with bright west exposure. The windowed kitchen has ample cabinet space, a built-in wine rack, stainless appliances, and a breakfast bar. 35 West 92nd Street has a full-time doorman, resident super, central laundry, and bicycle storage. See floor plan and full details here.

225-East-86th-Street-01 The Buckingham East, #1101 (Sotheby's International Realty)
From the Listing: The three levels of this home bring the spaciousness and comforts of a suburban home, with levels for dining, entertaining and sleeping, yet with all the treasures of prime central Upper East Side at your doorstep. At its center is a breathtaking solarium offering the impressive grandeur of a "greenhouse in the sky" with all-day sunlight and sweeping skyline views. The kitchen has been renovated by this owner with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and an abundance of sleek white cabinets and counterspace. The Buckingham East is a full-service building featuring full-time doormen, live-in super, beautifully planted and furnished roof garden, modern laundry facilities, bike room and private storage. See floor plan and full details here.

303-West-66th-Street-01 Lincoln Guild, #6JE (Brown Harris Stevens)
From the Listing: Welcome to 6JE - a bright corner north and west-facing 2-bed/1-bath apartment with private balcony and a glimpse of the Hudson River. Brand-new stainless steel appliances include 5-burner gas Bosch range with matching microwave/vent, Bosch dishwasher, and full sized Fisher & Paykel refrigerator. A 24-hour doorman/concierge and a live-in superintendent are on staff, and amenities include a fitness center, updated laundry rooms, and bike room. All utilities included in maintenance. See floor plan and full details here.

77-Bleecker-Street-01 Bleecker Court, #619 (Compass)
From the Listing: This just-renovated one-bedroom loft apartment in the heart of Noho is a rare find, with an incredible 14-foot ceiling height, a wall of windows with bright sun and a rarely found brand-new fully renovated space. Warm gray stained and refinished hardwood floors throughout, a completely new kitchen and updated bathroom, new recessed lighting throughout the entire space, and two stories of closet space. The kitchen has been rebuilt from the floor up with a completely brand-new appliance package including a microwave, gas range, and dishwasher. Bleecker Court is a pet-friendly co-op with a 24-hour doorman/concierge, two landscaped garden courtyards, a live-in super, and a laundry room down the hall. See floor plan and full details here.

100-Riverside-Boulevard-01 Avery, #8U (Nest Seekers International)
From the Listing: This gorgeous east-facing apartment in The Avery gets tremendous sunlight and has wonderful open city views. Apartment features include 11-foot ceilings, Brazilian wood flooring, open windowed kitchen with Sub Zero refrigerator, Miele cook top and oven, granite counters and designer cabinetry. The over-sized living room can be separated to have a full dining area. The Avery is a full-service condominium with a doorman, full-time lobby attendant, Abigail Michaels concierge services accredited by Les Clefs d'Or, and an extensive amenities package. A large storage space is included with the sale of the apartment. See floor plan and full details here.

7-Gramercy-Park-West-01 7 Gramercy Park West, #5A (Sotheby's International Realty)
From the Listing: Featuring 10-foot ceiling heights and an open layout, this home yields ample space for a living room and dining table to host and entertain. The bedroom includes two double closets with excellent storage space and an en-suite bath. Hardwood flooring runs throughout the apartment. Located on the southwest corner of Gramercy Park, this beautiful brick and limestone pre-war condominium features a full-time doorman and live-in super. The apartment comes with a key to Gramercy Park. See floor plan and full details here.

4-Lexington-Avenue-01 Sage House, #6K (Compass)
From the Listing: This bright, spacious duplex loft boasts high ceilings, charming exposed beams and an open floor plan that allows for a multitude of different layouts. The main level of the apartment has plenty of space for separate living and dining areas, and boasts a sleek, open kitchen that is perfect for entertaining. All appliances are Bosch and custom lacquered cabinetry affords plenty of storage. A beautiful circular staircase leads to the second level, which has been set up as a sprawling primary suite. Amenities at this landmarked cooperative include full-time doorman, live-in super, central laundry, bicycle room, and storage. See floor plan and full details here.

77-West-55th-Street-01 The Gallery House, #6B (Sotheby's International Realty)
From the Listing: As you enter into this sprawling apartment, you are greeted by an elegant foyer which opens up into a spacious living room filled with natural light facing south. Enjoy the walk-through kitchen with an easy flow, lots of storage, black marble countertops, and high-end appliances. Off the foyer, you will notice a separate wing leading to two bedrooms and two baths. Enjoy all that The Gallery House has to offer, including a 24-hour doorman, a live-in resident manager, a stunning roof deck with views of Central Park, laundry facilities, and a garage. See floor plan and full details here.

116-Central-Park-South-01 Park House, #PHA (Stephen P. Wald)
From the Listing: Upon entering this thoughtfully designed apartment you are greeted by 9.5-foot ceilings, rosewood flooring and a living room flanked by five large south/east facing windows featuring sprawling city views. The interior has amazing air, light, and scale which is further enhanced by a recessed Lutron lighting system coupled with a Bose surround sound system. Just off the kitchen is a private wraparound terrace that spans the entire perimeter of the apartment, which affords inspiring city views and the possibilities for an abundance of outdoor seating and plantings. Residents enjoy wonderful amenities including a 24-hour doorman and concierge, fitness center, live-in super, parking garage, laundry, and storage. See floor plan and full details here.

40-East-84th-Street-01 40 East 84th Street, #10A (Brown Harris Stevens)
From the Listing: This rarely available high-floor sprawling corner five-room home is in excellent, move-in condition with open city views. The spacious gallery opens to a grand and elegant living room with a wall of windows facing west to Central Park. The windowed, chef's eat-in kitchen with granite counters, top-of-the-line appliances, including a Sub-Zero refrigerator and Miele dishwasher, has double exposures. 40 East 84th Street is a full service building with a wonderful staff, beautiful windowed lobby, 24-hour doorman, resident manager, garage (wait list), private storage, bicycle room and a new central laundry room. See floor plan and full details here.

450-West-17th-Street-01 Caledonia, #1003 (Compass)
From the Listing: Recently renovated high-floor home opens up to a massive, 360-square-foot private terrace with beautiful landscaping, a connected water hose for plants, and enough room for dining and lounge areas. Interiors feature an open chef's kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, a new Miele washer and dryer, updated primary bath with walk-in shower and heated towel racks, and new white oak flooring and fixtures throughout. The building features 24-hour doorman and staff, sun terrace, children's playroom, Equinox gym, and on-site parking garage. See floor plan and full details here.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.