Most of us turn to social media to find old friends or new fashions, dance moves or pet videos, but for Mikhail Lapushner, it was about finding the perfect apartment.
“For us to find this apartment — it was fully my husband,” said Jenna Driggers Lapushner. They’ve been married for five years.
“I gotta take my compliments where I can get them,” Mr. Lapushner said, smiling.
It was the beginning of the pandemic and the couple felt like all their friends were fleeing the city.
“Everyone moved to Florida,” Ms. Driggers Lapushner said. “Mostly Miami.”
“What do they call Florida?” added Mr. Lapushner. “The sixth borough?”
But they didn’t want to leave.
They were new parents — their son, Alexander, was born in 2019 — and they had both been in the city for many years. Ms. Driggers Lapushner grew up in Rhode Island and remembers coming to the city for ballet competitions throughout her childhood; she moved to New York for college and never left. Mr. Lapushner’s family arrived in 1979 as refugees, fleeing the Soviet Union, and they’ve remained ever since.
“We are New Yorkers,” he said, “we wanted to stay in the city.”
The couple had been living in Midtown East, embracing the first exhausting, intoxicating days of parenthood. “The first eight months felt like a honeymoon period because he wasn’t walking yet,” Mr. Lapushner said. “It was really, really special.”
But as their son grew it felt like their apartment was shrinking. “Once we decided we weren’t leaving the city,” he recalled, “I said to myself, ‘OK, I want to go online and see every single possibility.’”
He kept his search broad, looking not just in Manhattan but also throughout Brooklyn and in Long Island City. For Mr. Lapushner, geography mattered far less than the quality of the building. “I wanted a new building,” he said, “world-class amenities.”
He could have turned to StreetEasy or Zillow, like many apartment hunters, or he could have turned to a close friend in real estate, who had been helpful in the past. Instead, he turned to Facebook and Instagram.
“It’s no surprise that social media can be a time-suck,” he said, “but in this case it saved me time. And, as we all know, the true luxury in life is time.”
$7,800 | Upper West Side, Manhattan
Mikhail Lapushner, 53; Jenna Driggers Lapushner, 36
Occupation: He is an independent venture capitalist, and she is an executive assistant at Innovid, an online advertising company.
On making it in America: When Mr. Lapushner’s family arrived in New York as Russian refugees, he didn’t speak English. “The American Dream, I thought, was making money,” he said. “So, I went to Wall Street.” At 24, he became a vice president at UBS and then went out on his own, and is currently focusing on cryptocurrency.
On a spacious neighborhood: Mr. Lapushner and Ms. Driggers Lapushner had never considered livingin their neighborhood, but now they’re attached to how roomy it feels. “I noticed right away that this part of town has this spaciousness that you don’t get in other neighborhoods,” Mr. Lapushner said. “You feel like you’re in the suburbs and in New York City at the same time. Now I can’t imagine living anywhere else in Manhattan.”
Mr. Lapushner knew a thing or two about social media having invested in various platforms earlier in his career. “As someone who was involved with the early development, I have a lot of the same questions that others have around what is it doing to our society,” he said, “and how it can be the biggest time suck in a person’s life.”
Still, he wanted to give the algorithms a try, to see how responsive they would be to his searches. “The algorithms that can sometimes annoy us by tracking all of our interest,” he said, “that’s exactly what I was looking for in this case. And the algorithms served me really well.”
He began searching Facebook and Instagram for key phrases like “best amenities in N.Y.C.,” “squash court,” “tennis court,” “basketball court,” “playroom” — all the things he and his wife were hoping for.
It was an advertisement — on both Facebook and Instagram — for Waterline Square, a development on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, that soon caught his eye. He saw nearly every amenity he’d been looking for, as well as an image of a grand staircase in the lobby, and he was hooked.
“I don’t know who their chief media officer is,” Ms. Driggers Lapushner added, “but they did really well. It was really fast and very accurate.”
In June of 2020 they went to see an available two-bedroom apartment in Building Three of the complex. Construction on the development wasn’t yet complete but they were already smitten by the unit they saw with two bathrooms and wide hallways, spacious bedrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Four months later, they were some of the first residents to move in.
They like that the building has a garden, and that every Tuesday residents who sign up get leafy greens delivered to their door. Ms. Driggers Lapushner likes the ease with which she can commute to her office near Union Square, and they both like the on-site pet-care services for their 4-year-old Samoyed, Alpha.
But more than anything they like the activities that are offered in the building, particularly for Alexander — and the sense of community that comes with them.
“He plays basketball, soccer, tennis,” Mr. Lapushner said. “Every day after school he has a different activity — all in the building. He’s looking forward to using the golf simulator and the drum set in the music room, too. On freezing mornings, we can put on a robe with flip-flops and go straight down to the pool. Then he come upstairs and takes a nap. Getting the kid out in the winter? Oh my God, it takes forever. We’ve had Sundays where we never left the building and still did everything we wanted to do.”
It’s not just the ease and comfort that the family appreciates but also the central pursuit that Mr. Lapushner returns to again and again: “All of this gives us the luxury of time.”
While some of the amenities require a paid membership in the building’s social club, Mr. Lapushner said he is particularly grateful for the opportunity to share much of Waterline’s luxury with his neighbors who live in the building’s less expensive units, which are distributed through housing lotteries.
Mr. Lapushner said that while some buildings make the tenants in their affordable units feel like second-class citizens, that hasn’t happened in his building.
“This building emphasizes community so much.,” he said. “It has super wealthy people and people just getting by and our kid has opportunities to develop relationships with all those families. That’s so beautiful. It’s truly an oasis.”
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