Co-working startup WeWork is wading into the competitive New York City apartment market, hoping to woo millennials with $1,375 per-person studios that offer "robust" social offerings such as karaoke nights, cooking classes and potluck dinners.
The furnished apartments, which the company says are geared to "unique individuals," could find takers because they eliminate much of the hassle of renting in Manhattan, which perennially ranks as one of the priciest housing markets in the U.S. WeWork vows to rent without credit checks or broker fees, for instance.
The first building to open under the "WeLive" concept is at 110 Wall Street in downtown Manhattan, while a second building is located outside of Washington, D.C. in Arlington, Virginia. If WeWork's co-working efforts are anything to go by, the apartment buildings will soon be filled with millennials drawn by the idea of a built-in community, as well as the amenities.
WeWork, valued at more than $16 billion, has tapped into the growing "gig economy" by providing shared offices for freelancers and other independent workers. While part of the appeal is the opportunity to claim a workspace in a funkily designed office, WeWork has also carefully cultivated a sense of community by adding arcades, screening rooms and common areas.
"Just as WeWork changed the way people work through its philosophy of shared space, services, community and social interaction, WeLive offers a disruptive alternative to the way people live," the company said in a statement.
The apartment buildings aim to connect residents "in ways formerly unattainable in apartment buildings," the company added.
Each unit includes custom-made cabinets; a kitchen stocked with plates, utensils and silverware; travel-size toiletries; flat-screen TVs; Bose in-ceiling speakers; and fridges stocked with what WeLive calls "basic refreshments": SmartWater, San Pellegrino beverages and beer. Other amenities include wifi, linens and towels.
The buildings also offer doorman security, front-desk pick-up for mail and packages, and features such as pool and ping-pong tables. Pricing starts at $1,375 per person for a two-person studio. Individual studios start at $2,000.
For a flat $125 monthly fee, residents also get cable, utilities, access to laundry facilities and, perhaps most important for busy young people averse to wiping down counters, monthly cleaning service. That charge also includes health and wellness classes, such as yoga.
That means a couple sharing the apartment would pay $2,750 per month, or slightly less than the average Manhattan studio rental price of $2,918 per month.
The buildings also offer larger apartments, from "studio plus" units that sleep four people up to 4-bedroom apartments that sleep up to eight residents.