What Is A Maisonette? Defining the New York Real Estate Term | Easy Street


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While on a hunt for a new apartment, you’ll probably come across real estate. Conditions like ownership apartment and cooperative, duplex, and even foot-to-ground are ordinary. But there are still a few head scratches out there. For example, what is a cottage? This lesser known term might also appear in your search. It has even been advertised in a number of high-profile lists, such as The founder of Marc Jacobs Robert Duffy Bufo Beekman and iconic designer Sister Paro’s Fifth Avenue home. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is A Maisonette?

The word “maisonette” simply means “cottage” in French. Webster’s defines it as a “cottage” or “apartment often on two floors.” But in New York City real estate, the definition is a little different. Here, a cottage is just that – a cottage. But a cottage is not a house. It is an apartment within a larger structure. The term usually refers to a ground floor apartment with its own private street level entrance. Some may have private access from the lobby, as opposed to the street. (Theoretically, a cottage could be located anywhere in the building, provided it has a private ground entrance.)

“There’s a discussion that the term originated from smaller buildings,” says a broker Gerard C. send’st of Warburg Realty. “Usually a shop was on the first floor of a building, with its own entrance. A second entrance on the side of the building entered the cottage or apartment above. “

In addition, NYC cottages typically consist of both the ground floor and second level. They are duplex. But the defining feature is the private entrance, giving it a sense of exclusivity. And although a multi-storey cottage might feel like a town hall, it’s not. City halls are single structures – not part of a larger configuration.

If you’re wondering where in the city you might find one of these magical dwellings, you’re not alone. They are relatively rare! But they are most likely found in pre-war buildings in neighborhoods such as the Upper West and Upper East sides.

what is a cottage
This upper west cottage skillfully uses the space under the stairs. (From a list at 2250 Broadway # MG)

Maisonette Vs Penthouse

Both cottages and awnings are usually considered luxury estates. But there are considerable differences. Most obviously, a cottage is on the ground floor, while a marquee is traditionally on the top floor of a building. (More on that in a moment!) This means that although both are fabulous, the light, views and outer space in each will be different.

Splendore realizes that a cottage probably won’t boast of the views or the natural light of a marquee, due to its street-level location. But as an advantage, it may have other things that a marquee cannot provide, such as a backyard. Also, because a marquee has to be reached by elevator, some consider it less convenient than a cottage with direct street access. And direct, private access to the outside world is also more desirable during a pandemic. No lift buttons or common door handles to touch!

Interesting note: The definition of a marquee is changing a bit now. Some now use the word for units that are not actually on the top floor. These can be anywhere the premises of a building begin to have terraces, have a different layout or boast of amenities different from other units in the building. But regardless, marquee it is still a raised unit without a private street entrance.

The bedroom of this Chelsea cottage opens onto a private garden. (From a list at 440 W. 22nd St.)

Types of Cottages

So we answered the burning question, What is a cottage? But is there more than one kind? I’m glad you asked! Single-storey and duplex cottages are both seen in Manhattan today. Plus they can be apartments, cooperatives, or even rentals.

Some spaces considered as cottages today may be former offices or commercial spaces converted to apartments. For example, listing at 960 Park Avenue has an exhibition space convertible into apartments.


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