RockFarmer Properties put a similar emphasis on weaving landscaping into the heart of its new building, the Rowan, a 46-unit condo at 21-21 31st Street in Astoria, Queens, designed by the architecture firm DXA Studio, with the horticultural designer Patrick Cullina. There, residents returning home will pass through a street-side garden to a green-roofed, glass-walled lobby with a private courtyard garden. About half of the apartments have private outdoor space, and about half of those outdoor spaces are sizable, said John Petras, a founder of RockFarmer Properties — “anywhere from 500 to, in some cases, 1,500 square feet.”
When the pandemic stuck soon after sales started last year, the developers worried. “But after about a month, I was just shocked,” Mr. Petras said. “We were selling units every week.” He attributed the activity to the project’s focus on outdoor space and nature, as well as its location and the company’s early adoption of virtual showings.
More than 80 percent of the building’s units are now in contract (units currently available are priced from $789,000 to $2.549 million), as are all five of its rooftop cabanas, priced at $65,000 each.
“Last July, in the middle of all this, we actually raised prices on about 15 of our units,” Mr. Petras said, while other developers were offering discounts.
He is now in the early stages of planning the Rowan’s second phase, which will involve a larger building with more units, and he is contemplating a few strategic changes.
“We’re going to look to incorporate outdoor space, if not in every unit, in almost every unit,” he said. “We’re going to try to incorporate a lot of what we call ‘special’ outdoor space, where it’s 500 to 800 square feet. We’re going to look to landscape those at a high level, instead of leaving it up to the buyer.”
All of that will cost more, he said, but he is certain the investment will pay off: “Any type of outdoor space, even if it’s a small little terrace, is more important today than it was 18 months ago.”
For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.