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Open House

This $6,800/Month Two-Bedroom in Long Island City Is to Die For

All persons using the Party Room at 5Pointz "are doing so at their own risk."

(Hell Gate)

It was a sunny and still spring afternoon when I walked through into the 5Pointz, the massive two-tower complex in Long Island City, Queens. The entrance hall was long and empty, with a single security guard's head poking up from behind an imposing desk at the opposite end. 

"I have an appointment with Ismail," I told her. I had immediately become intimidated by the room's grandeur. But her reply was friendly: "OK, the leasing office is right down here, the first door on the right." Walking down a path, I was flanked by rows of floor-to-ceiling windows. "Right there," she called, as I began taking pictures of my palatial surroundings. 

To my right was an open door painted charcoal gray, and behind it another woman sat at an ivory desk. "I have an appointment with Ismail," I repeated. "OK," this woman smiled. "Have a seat." Another 5Pointz staffer entered, and they began chatting about appointments. The waiting room was appointed with low-profile couches straight from /r/Mid_Century, and behind the worker at the desk was a charcoal gray wall emblazoned with the word "5Pointz" in white and black. A book on the coffee table was titled "Oasis: Modern Desert Homes Around the World." Prints of photographs hung on the adjacent white walls: a neon sign for Pepsi Cola, the New York skyline at dusk, the 5Pointz swimming pool.

"Hey," came a friendly voice. A Black guy entered, and approached the staffer, a balding Asian man approaching middle age. "I left my stuff back there, can you let me in to grab it? I have a meeting in five minutes." The staffer stared at him. "Um, well, I don't know you obviously, so I can't just let you in, I'm sorry." 

"Oh man, please? It's right there, and I have this meeting in five minutes." Suddenly they were interrupted by two people who had arrived for a tour.

A young white guy sat beside me, seemingly about my age, and watched his mother converse with the balding staffer, who was one of the building's realtors. He told me he lives on the Upper East Side. He was really impressed with the amenities at 5Pointz, but the price was steep. We watched his mom argue specifics about how many months' rent her son would be required to put down. She came over later, and when I told her I was here to see a two bedroom apartment, she balked and said, in a briny New York accent, "What are you gonna do, sell the farm?"

Ismail arrived, in a sharply tailored charcoal suit with windowpane checking, and shiny brown brogues. We shook hands, and he smiled brightly at me. We sat down and before the tour could begin, he began to ask me some questions about myself. "Can I ask what you do for work?" he asked, peering at me through the silvery frames of his glasses. "I'm a writer," I replied.

"Shall we start the tour?" And we were off. I never found out whether that guy was able to get his bags.

Is this where I belong? (Hell Gate)

We walked on, past the mailboxes into a co-working space where light poured in all around us. There was room in here for hundreds of people, it seemed, but only two click-clacked away at their laptops. "The amenity fee is just $105 dollars a month," Ismail explained. You got to use the WiFi down here, but there were more amenities too—so many more. He summoned an elevator with a beep of an RFID tag and a few presses on a tablet, and we zoomed up to the 38th floor. When we got out, it felt more like I was in a luxury hotel than a New York apartment building. The Manhattan skyline found and beamed at us wherever we went.

Ismail tried the door to the two bedroom apartment on the 38th floor. His keychain lit up red and buzzed, denying us entry. He tried again. "Oh," he remembered, "we're supposed to be on the 39th floor. Would you mind taking the stairs?" He held open the door to a stairwell that was lined with street-art style murals, a nod to the original 5 Pointz, a water meter factory that was repurposed into a massive complex of artist studios, named for its status as a meeting place for artists from all five of New York's boroughs. Its owner tore it down to build the luxury housing complex I was crawling around in. Maybe the apartments are so expensive because the developer was ordered to pay out $150,000 for each of the artworks that were destroyed in the demolition.

The old 5 Pointz. (Max Rivlin-Nadler / Hell Gate)

But up at the 39th floor, Ismail's key denied us entry to two more apartments. "It's filling up so fast," he told me, apologetically. The building had only just opened in December, and "it's crazy busy." They were fielding 30 applications a week, he said. Everyone wants to be here. 

We finally got into an apartment, on the tenth floor. Two bedroom, two bath. "Oh my god," Ismail moaned at the sight of the place, but I was admittedly a little underwhelmed. The floor was paneled with wood, a color between brown and gray. "The master bedroom is massive," he said. But it looked like a pretty standard New York apartment size to me. I felt like I didn't know what to say. "Yeah, wow. Uh, were you gonna show me any other units?" We took an elevator ride to another apartment that looked the same: white countertops, silver appliances, brown-gray floors. But still, that view. "Oh my god" was right. Through the floor to ceiling windows you could still read the mural at the side of MoMA PS1: "Artists Make New York." I saw players on a soccer field in the middle distance, and pointed them out to Ismail. "When you're up here," he said, "they all look so small."

"When you're up here, they all look so small." (Hell Gate)

Next up was what Ismail was really excited to show me: The amenities. He took me to the sixth floor, into the most pristine gym I've ever seen. "Our gym is better than Equinox," he quipped, chuckling as my eyes filled with genuine wonder. There were only one or two people working out, but Blink-182 was blaring happily through speakers all around, and workers were constantly wiping down every surface. They looked a bit sullen, and avoided eye contact. Ismail showed me that the buildings had a full-size basketball court. "You'll be like Michael Jordan," he smiled, his voice echoing in the expanse. We walked downstairs to the gym's bottom floor, and the scent of chlorine wafted in. There was even a pool. Next to it, a guy wrapped in a towel walked into a room labeled "sauna." Oh my god. 

(Hell Gate)

Next, we walked to 5Pointz's other tower, through a sprawling outdoor pavilion, with 10 shiny silver grills you could reserve online. They were all numbered like houses. "Just $105 a month for the amenities," Ismail reminded me. There was a second terrace up on the sixth floor too. The building even brought a standup comedian in last week, for the community. And, "wait until you see the party room," Ismail said, smirking.

"The party room?" I gasped. "I've never been to a place that had a party room," I said, honestly. "Yup," he replied. "That's where we have all our events for the people that pay $105."

(Hell Gate)

But first, Ismail showed me a series of other rooms, all for different kinds of recreation: He took me to a poker room, a game room with an arcade and pool tables, and a dark room filled with the eerie growl of an AC unit and a stretch of green carpeting. It was a golf simulator, he explained. In each, a silver sign insisted that you used the room at your own risk.

And then, finally, the party room. Here we go. Ismail smiled at my anticipation, and swung the door open. It was just a room. One with couches, and a set of rules, the first of which: "All persons using the Party Room are doing so at their own risk." Two residents working in there looked up at us and then back at their laptops. Past the party room was a smaller "quiet room," with no one in it.

(Hell Gate)

We got back into an elevator in the second tower, and as he always did at every door, he offered for me to go in first. "After you." After me. A tenant was already in there with a dog. Chatting us both up, Ismail mentioned he had just gotten a Maltipoo. After the resident got out, he said he was trying to make sure I made it to my 3 p.m. meeting. He checked his wrist, and I saw the glitter of a Roley doing nothing less than what it does

It was like a hotel in there, but it also felt like something even more comforting: dorm life. Sure, you could look at 5Pointz and feel that it gives haunting "adult daycare" vibes. But what's so wrong with being cared for? I imagined all my friends living in 5Pointz, riding the elevator down to watch a movie on a best friend's couch, throwing parties in the party room. If I had to work at Meta, for a white boy with a little bit of swag who's lowkey single-handedly buying up Hawaii, or run PR interceptions for a company building technology that is perhaps then sold to regimes that kill children, would I even remember to feel bad if I could just live this way forever? Every pristine white wall in 5Pointz seemed to offer a maternal embrace. Just give in.

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