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Fifteen Central Park West (Zeckendorf Development) Fifteen Central Park West (Zeckendorf Development)

Types of doorman buildings

The first thing to understand is that not all doorman buildings are alike. In fact, different doorman buildings offer very different types of services, and the doorman in these different buildings even wear different types of uniforms to signify the types of services one can expect.

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.

The most important thing that doormen offer, however, is something that is much less visible—they manage affective 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

Deals in Full-Service White-Glove Doorman Buildings

45-Sutton-Place-South-01 All images of Cannon Point South via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: Don't miss the chance to make this exceptionally spacious two bedroom, 2 bathroom home your Manhattan retreat. Located on quiet, elegant Sutton Place South, this extremely spacious home is filled with light from three exposures, including a view of the East River. See floor plan and full details here.

414-East-52nd-Street-01 All images of Southgate via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: NO BOARD APPROVAL! BEEKMAN BEAUTY! Desirably situated on a private cul de sac in a magnificent white glove Southgate cooperative, Residence 1H, a lovely convertible two bedroom awaits! The spacious living room enjoys soaring high ceilings and overlooks a peaceful leafy green garden. The windowed kitchen enjoys custom cabinetry and ample counterspace. The tranquil bedroom offers beamed ceilings, generous closet space and three nice windows. A second room is perfect as a bedroom or home office. See floor plan and full details here.

410-East-57th-Street-01 All images of 410 East 57th Street via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: Impeccably "Modern" renovated two bedroom, two bath in prewar white-glove full-service cooperative steps from prestigious Sutton Place. This gorgeous home is pin-drop quiet and filled with dazzling southern light throughout the day. A formal entry foyer, complete with large coat closet leads to an over-sized living room with a separate dining space, which is perfect for entertaining. See floor plan and full details here.

530-East-72nd-Street-01 All images of The Edgewater via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: This is a wonderful well-priced opportunity to buy in this coveted full-service building and to make this desirable layout into your dream home, call your contractor. Apartment 7F overlooks the East River with views from the living room, the solarium and both bedrooms. You can easily convert the dining room into a third bedroom, an office or a tv room. See floor plan and full details here.

2-Beekman-Place-01 All images of 2 Beekman Place via Compass
From the Listing: NEW PRICE, NEWLY REFINISHED FLOORS AND NEWLY PAINTED! This graciously laid out 2-bedroom, 2 bath coop apartment exudes pre-war elegance with its high, beamed ceilings, crown moldings and hardwood floors throughout. Now vacant, the hardwood floors have been completely refinished and the entire apartment has been freshly painted. See floor plan and full details here.

110-East-57th-Street-01 All images of The Dorchester via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: Enjoy wonderful bright views from a high floor in the Dorchester in midtown Manhattan. This apartment has two king sized bedrooms-- one is currently used as large library/den-each with its own full bathroom. See floor plan and full details here.

300-East-54th-Street-01 All images of Connaught Tower via William Raveis
From the Listing: OWNER SAYS SELL. $50K REDUCTION. MAKE AN OFFER. The coveted K line. Everything you could ask for and more in this mint renovated 2 bedroom/2 bath with a windowed eat-in-kitchen and east facing balcony. The modern, sleek eat-in-kitchen has stainless steel appliances, lovely cabinetry, and neurtral stone counters. See floor plan and full details here.

135-Eastern-Parkway-01 All images of Turner Towers via The Corcoran Group
From the Listing: 135 Eastern Parkway, 3D From the moment you enter this elegant, architect-designed home it’s evident that no detail went unnoticed and no expense was spared in its masterful renovation. The exceptional care and craftsmanship that went into its design is apparent everywhere you look. The gracious and welcoming foyer opens into a stunning living room and dining area. See floor plan and full details here.

20-Sutton-Place-South-01 All images of 20 Sutton Place South via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: An excellent opportunity to create a stunning, corner two-bedroom two-bathroom with three exposures, facing East South and West. See floor plan and full details here.

345-East-57th-Street-01 All images of 345 East 57th Street via Compass
From the Listing: Nestled near the entrance to the elegant and serene Sutton Place enclave, is this original five into four prewar gem. Located on the 16th floor, one enters this home through a charming foyer that leads to light-filled south facing living room with open city views, wood burning fireplace and custom built bookcases. There are high beamed ceilings, hardwood floors and in wall sound system throughout. See floor plan and full details here.

410-East-57th-Street-01 All images of 410 East 57th Street via The Corcoran Group
From the Listing: 410 E 57th Street 16 D...Priced to Sell!! Best priced 2 bed/2 bath + Home Office in Sutton Area. Beautiful 2-bedroom Prewar home on Upper East Side with extra Home Office/storage room! See floor plan and full details here.

77-Park-Avenue-01 All images of The Griffon via The Corcoran Group
From the Listing: Two Bedroom 1.5 Bath home in white glove full service pre-war CONDOMINIUM located in Murray Hill. Featuring WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE, expansive living room with High Ceiling with Architectural Beams, and Custom Built Ins. Chef's style kitchen with built in appliances, MARBLE counters and backsplash. See floor plan and full details here.

400-East-56th-Street-01 All images of Plaza 400 via Warburg Realty
From the Listing: Welcome to 6L. If you are looking for a spacious split two-bedroom corner apartment with two king-sized bedrooms, a separate dining room, a huge living room with a generous terrace facing north, you found your new home! See floor plan and full details here.

400-East-56th-Street-01 All images of Plaza 400 via Douglas Elliman
From the Listing: Unobstructed views of the iconic Chrysler Building, Empire State Building and the East River, all of which can be enjoyed from your private balcony. Apartment 37P offers the savvy buyer an opportunity to create their perfect home. This apartment features Southern & Eastern exposures, a spacious 31 foot living room plus a dining alcove that offers the flexibility to create a third bedroom/home office. See floor plan and full details here.

136-East-56th-Street-01 All images of 136 East 56th Street via Compass
From the Listing: LIFE IS SHORT, LIVE WELL! Graciously appointed two-bedroom, two-bathroom in Pied-a-Terre friendly, full service white glove building, with on-site garage. Pets are welcome too! Conveniently located in the heart of midtown, with all major conveniences at your doorstep: top tier restaurants, shopping venues, as well as popular grocery stores: Whole Foods & soon to open Trader Joes. Open and airy loft-like living spaces for entertaining, dining and cooking, are accentuated by wrap-around-windows, with streaming sunlight by day and iconic landmark views lit-up at night (Chrysler Building). See floor plan and full details here.

400-East-52nd-Street-01 All images of Southgate via Brown Harris Stevens
From the Listing: Apartment #2A is a beautifully designed pre-war home nestled on one of Manhattan's historic tree-lined cul-de-sac streets. The gracious entry foyer leads to a dining balcony overlooking the sunken living room. This well-proportioned two bedroom & two bath home provides a spacious, entertaining living room with high beamed ceilings. See floor plan and full details here.

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From the Listing: Grand scale living at the Dakota. Rare opportunity to own a massive sun flooded meticulously maintained, 4500 SF, 11-room residence with a flexible layout comprised of 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, an expansive double-living room, library, formal dining room, den, windowed eat-in kitchen, and separate staff room or office. Noteworthy features include 12-foot soaring ceilings with original restored moldings, wainscoting, 7 stunning and ornate wood-burning fireplaces, hardwood floors, large proportioned rooms, oversized windows with open NSEW open exposures and historical details throughout. 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.