Pepsi once challenged soda drinkers to sample the competition — and now one of Williamsburg’s super deluxe condo towers is doing the same by giving clients a free ride to see other apartments that supposedly can’t measure up.
But the main difference between “the Pepsi Challenge” and “the Edge Challenge” — named after the Kent Avenue condo building — is that Pepsi was already a hugely selling product when it went after the number one soft drink. In this case, sales at the Edge are slower than expected.
So is there really a difference between Pepsi (a.k.a. the Edge) and Coke (in this case, condo towers like Oro in Downtown Brooklyn or Northside Piers in Williamsburg)? This reporter set out to uncover the truth.
The condo challenge began at the sales office of the high-priced development-in-progress on Williamsburg’s waterfront between North Fifth and Seventh streets, where potential buyers are handed a checklist of all of the Edge’s amenities.
On the long list are such trendy items as green building materials; two gyms with saunas, steam baths and spa services; two mini cinemas; a full-size basketball court; a convertible indoor/outdoor pool; a fire pit; a children’s playroom; washers and dryers in every apartment; safes; glass-tiled walls and water-efficient toilets.
The list also boasts about the outdoor space around the development — a two-acre waterfront promenade and proximity to East River State Park.
“We are so confident that we are asking prospective buyers to take this chart and find another building that offers everything life at the Edge would,” said Highlyann Krasnow, one of the building’s marketers.
But there are some glaring omissions on the lengthy list. The Edge fails to the mention the prices for its 565 units, which are high compared to its competitors. And square-footage in Edge units is low.
The smallest studio costs $395,000, which breaks down to $800 per square foot.
Once clients have been debriefed, they don hardhats and boots to see the model apartments, which, in the midst of a construction site, look far less lavish than they sounded minutes earlier.
That’s because most of the features on the checklist don’t yet exist. The development, slated for early 2010 occupancy, is still largely unfinished.
The Edge looks good on paper, but with other condos offering a completed product, does paper beat rock? The Edge is willing to bet it does. Brokers paid for a car and even made us an appointment at the competitor of our choice, the finished Oro Condominiums on Gold Street in Downtown.
Off we went to the 40-story dun-colored tower just off Flatbush Avenue Extension to put the Edge’s checklist to work. Both condos have indoor parking lots, were built by union hands, and both have floors made of sustainably harvested wood.
But that was about where the similarities ended.
In a few cases, differences were a matter of taste: the Edge has glass-tiled walls in its bathroom while Oro has porcelain backsplashes. And the appliances at the two condos are made by different manufacturers.
On amenities, though, the Edge squarely outdid Oro which offers just one indoor pool, one screening room and a half-sized basketball court. Apartments also don’t come with a washer or dryer and Oro also doesn’t boast many of the green specifications of the Edge.
Sure, conceded an Oro sales representative, “if you want amenities, The Edge has everything. But you’re paying Manhattan prices.”
Meanwhile, the Oro has slashed its prices by 25 percent on all remaining units — so on this one, the Oro has the edge on Edge.
As a result, the same price gets you a studio with about 100 more square feet than at the Edge.
Oro has closed on 82 of its 303 units since September 2008. Though the Edge has pre-sold 30 percent of its units, including all of its penthouses, it has no completed deals since it’s not yet ready for occupancy.
No one from Oro would comment directly on the Edge’s checklist, though a representative pointed out that until the Edge has its first tenant, it can’t claim to be ahead.
“Buyers are shopping around these days more than ever,” said Robert Scaglion, a spokesman for Oro. “Recent price reductions, coupled with the finishes and amenities, position Oro favorably in the market as compared to other buildings.”
But the Edge still believes buyers will favor flavor, even if it costs them a few extra dimes.
“Though we’ll work with buyers on price, no general price reductions are planned because units are selling very well here,” said Krasnow.