Thom Filicia Designs NYC’s First All-Green Luxury Residence at Riverhouse

thom filicia, j christopher daly, sheldrake, riverhouse

Popular ‘Queer Eye’ designer shows New Yorkers that in today’s world of luxury living, green is the new black

RISMEDIA, May 20, 2008-Proving environmentally responsible living and luxury need not be mutually exclusive, Sheldrake residential developer, J. Christopher Daly, and renowned interior designer, Thom Filicia, recently announced the launch of Manhattan’s first “top-to-bottom” green residence. Located inside Riverhouse, the LEED Gold condominium development overlooking Battery Park City’s waterfront promenade, this model apartment shows New Yorkers they don’t have to sacrifice personal design tastes in order to adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

“It’s possible for New Yorkers to appreciate their own personal design flare while still utilizing environmentally responsible and energy efficient materials,” explains J. Christopher Daly, President of the Sheldrake Organization. “By creating this eco-friendly apartment, Thom Filicia is helping us to pioneer a new urban lifestyle that’s synonymous with luxury, style, and environmental health – this is the future of New York City living.”

From the apartment’s green home décor to its walk-in-closets, every last sustainable square inch is infused with Thom Filicia’s sophisticated and livable design philosophy. It reflects his and J. Christopher Daly’s shared belief

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that the term “luxury” doesn’t just mean “living the good life”…it now means “living the good life” while minimizing your carbon footprint.

The residence’s array of luxury green home furnishings has all been hand selected by Thom Filicia. “What’s great about this residence is that it features every shade of ‘green’,” he explains. “For those who adore antiques, we found incredible lighting fixtures made of recycled plumbing hardware and repurposed titanium jet engine parts.

For those who enjoy a more contemporary sensibility, we created a beautiful mahogany bed frame, using certifiably harvested wood, non-toxic glue, and water based lacquer; and for those who appreciate classic, traditional interiors, we incorporated wall coverings and flooring that are at once timeless and biodegradable.”

Additional Apartment Features Include:

– Dining room table with a paperstone tabletop and a FSC certified wood base wrapped in recycled zinc panels

– Bedroom mattresses made of 100% bamboo

– Sectional sofa made of FSC certified birch plywood frame with organic latex foam

– Wallpapers made from 100% Natural Sisal Grass and Wood Pulp paper with paper backing

– Bedroom dresser made from salvaged picture frames

– Bench made from FSC certified wood, natural latex foam cushion, recycled nail heads, low VOC paint finish

Meaningful amenities include oversized saltwater fish tanks in the double-height lobbies, children’s lighthouse, billiard room, gym and yoga room, and Hockney-inspired glass-tiled, 50′ swimming pool. Poets House, the New York Public Library and City Bakery will also call Riverhouse home. The charming Michael Van Valkenburgh designed Teardrop Park runs between the east and west wings of Riverhouse, creating a luscious “backyard” for residents.

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Rentals get bells and whistles

Manhattan rental building developers are taking on more high-end amenities to entice would-be dwellers.

From swimming pools and saunas to playrooms, dog services and state-of-the-art health clubs, rental buildings seemingly have it all. But the perks are not exactly freebies: Tenants are increasingly paying more to live in these buildings.

“The rental buildings are almost being taken to the level of condominiums [or] hotels,” said Daren Hornig, managing partner of Saxa, a real estate investment and development company that is scouting out Manhattan sites for a rental building.

At 545 10th Avenue, close to 41st Street, the Sheldrake Organization is breaking ground this year on an as-yet-unnamed 650-unit rental building that will have a sand volleyball court and a self-service bar, possibly run by City Bakery, according to J. Christopher Daly, president of the Sheldrake Organization. City Bakery is already slated to set up shop in Sheldrake’s soon-to-open Riverhouse condominium in Battery Park City.

Riverhouse offers a swimming pool, fitness center with yoga studio, pet spa and on-site car rental service among many other amenities.

In-house commercial tenants appeal to renters.

When Whole Foods Market opened a store in the Avalon Chrystie Place rental development on the Lower East Side, rents rose dramatically, said Neil Binder, principal and co-founder of Bellmarc Realty. Buildings in fringe neighborhoods, such as the far West Side, Wall Street and Battery Park City, to some degree, often include amenities to entice would-be-renters and fill in for a neighborhood’s lack of services.

“It’s not about getting more [services], it’s about getting attention,” Binder said.

While these bells and whistles may affirm a building’s image and in some cases help a company brand its name — as in the case of Trump — they often mean more money out of a tenant’s pocket. Some developers charge extra fees, others build it into a higher rent, while still others — often those developing buildings in fringe neighborhoods — chalk it up to the cost of doing business.

A gym is bare bones in most buildings and 25 percent of the time is included in the rent, said Gordon Golub, the senior managing director of Citi

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Habitats.

If there is a pool and roof deck, the majority of the time there is an additional fee for usage. They are typically marketed to tenants as a package, Golub said. The price can range from $500 for seasonal pool access to $1,200 for a year-round pool, Golub said. If the building has a roof deck, but no pool, generally its use is free. To use an on-site party room, buildings typically charge residents at least a $50 to $250 cleanup fee.

With today’s emphasis on health and wellness, gyms are now found in around one-quarter of Manhattan rental buildings, Golub said, and typically there is a fee to help with servicing the facility. In some buildings, the fee is nominal. In Rockrose Development buildings, most gyms are free, but others charge $200 to $700, said Sofia Estevez, vice president of Rockrose Development.

At the Ritz Plaza, a 479-unit building at 235 West 48th Street, building owner Stonehenge Management charges an annual $850 health club fee for gym membership, which includes access to an indoor heated pool and social lounge with outdoor deck.

To entice potential tenants to move to less prime parts of Manhattan, developers may throw in amenities.

At the 333-unit Olivia, a rental building across from Penn Station at 315 West 33rd Street, just west of Eighth Avenue, Stonehenge Management does not charge for use of the 5,400-square-foot gym.

“We needed a draw,” said Marc Kaplan, director of leasing at Stonehenge Management, at a May Citi Habitats rental forum, and it has helped rent apartments.

In highly desirable neighborhoods, some developers do not feel compelled to include amenities.

Skyline Developers is slated to break ground on a rental project at 79th Street and Third Avenue in about a year. There will only be a small gym with a few machines inside.

“It’s the best location,” said Orin Wilf, president of Skyline. “I’ll rent that with no problem whatsoever.”

Still, it’s clear developers are devoting more and more space to amenities than before.

On average, a large rental building has 7,000 to 10,000 square feet of space for amenities, Hornig said, compared to five to 10 years ago, when it was closer to 3,000 square feet. But not all amenities warrant the hype.

Pools on rooftops and fully equipped, big health clubs add value.

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Thom Filicia makes a model apartment environmentally safe and stylish apartments

j christopher daly, thom filicia, sheldrake, riverhouse river house

Thom Filicia has an organic bone to pick with environmentally friendly interior design.

“People think green design has to have that same minimal, clean look,” says Filicia, star of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and author of “Thom Filicia Style,” a book coming out in October. “Even green cars all look like spaceships. They don’t have to. I set out to prove that green design doesn’t have to look like hemp world, that it can be luxurious and elegant with personality

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and color.”

Working with the Sheldrake Organization, who developed the LEED-certified Platinum Riverhouse condominium in Battery Park City, Filicia transformed a three-bedroom apartment on the eighth floor of the building’s east wing into one of the most modern examples of how to design interiors using nothing but environmentally safe and sustainable products.

There’s a lamp made of a recycled wine jug, with silk cords running electricity and wool strings for a shade. (Filicia designed that himself.) Benjamin Moore Eco Spec paint is used throughout. Linen-wrapped orange bed tables surround a bamboo-based sheet set and an organic mattress. The edges of antique frames come together to form a dresser in the guest bedroom.

In the dining area, recycled jet airplane parts compose a chandelier. Plumbing parts, such as nozzles and pipes, make a floor lamp. Ceramic side tables add stability to a multicolored wool and silk living room rug made of remnants of rejected carpet samples. There are no plastic or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) anywhere to be seen, or inhaled.

At the Riverhouse, Filicia used recycled nails on the custom-made furniture. There’s certified woods in the sofa and low-VOC adhesive for wallpaper glue. The dining room table is constructed with paper stone — recycled paper hardened with resin. Sea grass and bamboo combine to form the window treatments.

“Some things in the apartment tend to be more green than others,” says Filicia, whose new television show, “Dress My Nest,” airs on Wednesdays at 11 p.m. on the Style Network. “But that’s part of the decisions you have to make when designing green. You have to go as green as you can where you can. That’s all anyone can ask.”

The Riverhouse already counts as one of the more sensational green residences in the country. Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio owns a large penthouse with Hudson River views and a private green roof. Tyra Banks also bought in the building. Twenty percent of residents have moved into the apartments, which average in cost around $2.5 million.

A City Bakery, Poet’s House and New York Public Library branch make up the building’s retail mix. A salt-water aquarium highlights the spacious lobby, slated to open next month.

The Sheldrake Organization carefully chose Filicia for the project, hoping his visibility and green philosophy would come through. With a reported budget of a couple of hundred thousand dollars, Filicia delivered.

“Our buyer can afford high-end design,” says J. Christopher Daly, owner of the New York-based Sheldrake Organization. “We met Thom [Filicia] at an open house at the building that he came to on his own. His work here shows that excellent design seamlessly blends into the green lifestyle our buyers are looking for….

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