SAN FRANCISCO (03/15/2000) - A real estate management company has just delivered a new online luxury niche service for status-conscious New Yorkers - apartment building-specific portals that allow the rich and powerful to file maintenance requests and book last-minute dinner reservations online.
But it faces a marketplace already crowded with sites offering localized services. Insignia Financial Group recently launched its EdificeRex.com service, giving residents of 65,000 units access to special offers with local businesses and the ability to interact with building management and staff. The company says it has given itself an advantage over other management firms by leveraging its control over more than 300 co-op and condo buildings in Manhattan to offer residents exclusive deals.
"Here you have a built-in constituency of the strongest and most powerful demographic in the world," said Insignia CEO Andrew Farkas. To enhance the service, Insignia hired a full-time staff of 30 employees to tailor content to the upscale tastes and interests of EdificeRex members.
The content is meant to be an upscale urban portal, with restaurant reviews and culture articles. Those offerings mean EdificeRex will compete against established sites like CitySearch.com and Newyorktoday.com. "It is like a very local version (of Sidewalk.com), and not a very chock-full one because it's so early," said Barbara Corcoran, CEO of the Corcoran Group, New York City's most powerful real estate firm.
"All of those services are available on many Web sites in Manhattan, but I don't know that they're all offered on one Web site, so it does provide a great time savings." EdificeRex does provide members a few niceties. Got a sudden urge to dine at one of the nicest restaurants in town? Bid online for last-minute reservations at a handful of top-rated restaurants.
Members can order a car to the airport that is guaranteed to arrive in less than twenty minutes or it's free. Those desperately in need of a tan can secure a guaranteed seat on a helicopter to the Hamptons just seven days in advance - usually a fifty-fifty shot during the summer, according to Liberty Helicopters' Patrick Day.
"It definitely puts some muscle and a name behind our company," said Peter London, whose NY Errands does chores for EdificeRex'ers at a discounted rate.
"They're the heavyweights in the real estate industry, and they have an ability to tap into an enormous client pool that we couldn't right away."
Insignia has already signed agreements to expand its service to another 100 buildings in New York and 400 more buildings in Los Angeles and Orange County through other ownership and management companies. Farkas plans to launch an at-work version of EdificeRex in the near future, but would not discuss his plans in any detail.