Don't Park Your Backup Generator in the Basement

Typical Diesel Generator Set/Promo image

Developers can sell space above grade for good money, so they tend to put things like backup generator sets, required in taller buildings to run emergency lights and firemen's elevators, in the basement. That didn't turn out to be such a good idea when they got flooded out in Superstorm Sandy.

Now, according to Julie Satow in The New York Times, it is becoming a marketing feature; buyers are looking for resilient systems.

“If you are in the flood zone and you are marketing a new high-end property, it will need to stand up to the test of another superstorm,” said Stephen G. Kliegerman, the executive director of development marketing for Halstead Property. “I think buyers would happily pay to be relatively reassured they wouldn’t be terribly inconvenienced in case of a natural disaster.”

Builders are relocating functions like electrical rooms and controls to upper floor spaces that would normally be apartments or amenities. The New York zoning bylaws don't encourage this because they include all above grade space in their allowable density and include rooftop equipment in their height limits. Other municipalities exempt them; that's an easy change. One developer notes:

“It does cut into some of our sellable space,” he said, “but when people go to rent in our building they will know that we have taken these extra precautions, and it will give us an edge.”

Who knew that people actually cared about mechanical systems instead of just the usual marketing of granite counters and party rooms. Things are looking up; Maybe next they will worry about the amount of glass and their carbon footprint.

More in the New York Times

Tags: New York City | renovation | resilience

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