Last month I received a press release announcing that Park Fifth, a new condo development here in Los Angeles, has started to offer 5-year memberships in the local Museum of Contemporary Art to anyone who buys a home in the high-rise.
These memberships come as part of an elite residential package, complete with “generously sized balconies or terraces,” a few “entertaining areas” scattered throughout the building, and even some “rooftop pools” – all in what will soon be “the tallest residential building west of Chicago.”
In other words, a little art will come with your luxury.
From the press release:
Much in the same way that MOCA has become a culturally inspiring part of Downtown Los Angeles, Park Fifth intends to weave exquisite taste and a luxurious artistic atmosphere throughout its entire development while giving a spacious, yet Californian feel to it.
The project manager of the building then speculates that “homeowners who are attracted to the bold, modern architecture and design aesthetic of Park Fifth will also appreciate the benefits of MOCA membership.”
[Image: A screen-grab from the Park Fifth website].
The reason I’m posting this, though, is not to make fun of the condo project, but because I love the idea of applying fringe benefits to residential real estate. Anything to make people sign on the dotted line.
Your $800,000 condo comes with… a free subscription to The New Yorker. Or maybe a pre-assembled IKEA bookcase full of Penguin Classics.
You get a luxury condo and cultural literacy. Dating has never been easier.
After all, such benefits wouldn’t even cost a developer that much to include. A 5-year Household Membership at MOCA only costs $500 – but folding that into your new $1 million condo purchase has psychological impact: you may have spent that money on something else, for instance, and, this way, you can feel unthreateningly forced into a socially useful lifestyle change.
For instance, you could buy a new home in the suburbs… and get 250 Vintage contemporary fiction paperback books thrown in as a signing bonus. Within two years you’ll know everything there is to know about American fiction at the turn of the 21st century. Your house could even come with a Borders Rewards card. Hell, you could get a free two-year membership in the Microbrewed Beer of the Month club.
Or everyone on your street in the desert outside Phoenix gets a free Smart Car. Residential brand synergies go into hyperdrive.
It’d be like those celebrity goodie bags that people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Tyra Banks apparently get on Oscar night – only it’d be for homeowners. In other words, the developers of your building have partnered with the local small business bureau, so that the 2 bed/1 bath home you and your spouse just bought comes complete with 2 free tickets, every week, to the local cinema – as well as 10% off at the nearby Italian restaurant and a free double espresso on your birthday from the Starbucks in the ground floor lobby.
Or season tickets to the Eagles.
It’s the couponing of the residential experience. Toll Brothers signs a marketing contract with Playboy (NSFW), and so that new bungalow you just bought in the Chartresian labyrinth of cul-de-sacs outside Tuscaloosa comes complete with every single issue of Playboy magazine.
Houses sell out within days and the neighborhood divorce rate skyrockets.
[Image: Another screen-grab from the Park Fifth website].
Or Richard Branson goes into home development: Virgin Homes. Virgin Condos. Thus, you buy a Virgin Flat and you get two free round-trip tickets, every year for five years, on Virgin Airlines. Anywhere in the world.
It’s the future of sponsored living. Corporate residentialism.
Having said all this, I have to admit – or perhaps it’s obvious – that I think offering 5-year memberships at MOCA to all future tenants in the Park Fifth is actually a brilliant marketing move. In fact, at the risk of sounding more enthusiastic than I really am about the commercial possibilities inherent in domestic property ownership, I think fringe benefits of this kind are undoubtedly the future of successful real estate marketing – and that more and more corporate partnerships, between property developers, magazines, airlines, hoteliers, restaurants, book publishers (a free copy of the BLDGBLOG Book for every KB Home customer!), film production companies, beauty products firms, grocery supply chains, health clubs, etc., will wildly proliferate over the next decade. Whether you want them to or not.
Buy your house now – and get a complete line of L’Oreal for Men delivered to your door every three months. And a complimentary ticket to Disneyworld.