How do you sell an apartment in a Manhattan neighborhood that doesn't exist?
That's the conundrum that developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group faced when it came time to start condo sales in Hudson Yards, New York's newest neighborhood: 28 acres between 30th and 34th streets abutting the Hudson River.
"You see all this massive construction, and I think it is hard for people to imagine how you create from scratch a live, work, play neighborhood," said David Rockwell, founder and president of Rockwell Group.
Related brought in Rockwell, who was also involved in the design of 15 Hudson Yards, to create a 18,000-square-foot “Experience Center” that could tell the story of the new neighborhood and sell its first condos.
The center is located on the 24th floor of 10 Hudson Yards, the recently opened commercial building that houses Coach, L'Oréal, and SAP. It is laid out as a series of galleries that use technology to give buyers a sense of what Hudson Yards will be like once construction is completed in 2019.
"We are selling here not just a building—we are selling a lifestyle, a new neighborhood," said Related's sales senior vice president, Sherry Tobak, who has been taking buyers through the space since it opened in mid-September. "To get that message across to our buyers, it is important to bring them through an entire experience."
The experience guided by Tobak begins at a physical model of Hudson Yards and the neighborhood. Guests can interact with the model, which illuminates to highlight various features of the neighborhood, such as the No. 7 subway station or 14 acres of public open spaces.
In the "Lifestyle Room," buyers can touch gold statues that highlight attractions coming to Hudson Yards. Touch a gold dish, and images of the neighborhood's Thomas Keller-approved restaurants are projected on the two-way mirrors surrounding the room. If you're curious about retail, tap the gold-platted gift box, and up comes info on the 1 million square feet of retail, including the city's first Neiman Marcus. While it does feel a bit as though you are paying homage to a gold idol, it certainly is more fun than flipping through a brochure.
The "Outdoor Room" is a 360-degree video simulation that places you right in the center of the neighborhood. Within the rounded video walls, guests can experience the view from atop the "Vessel", architect's Thomas Heatherwick's giant, 16-story folly made of 154 interconnected staircases that will anchor the outdoor space.
After an introduction to Hudson Yards "The Neighborhood," buyers learn the specifics of the residential tower, which soars 900 feet in height and has 285 condos for sale. A separate room with expansive views of the Hudson River highlights such amenities as a 75-foot pool, billiard room, private spa, screening room, and golf simulator.