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What is an Apartment Complex in NYC?

Petra E. Lewis

Petra E. Lewis

Learn what an apartment complex is and what are the advantages of living in one in New York. Find out which apartment complexes are famous in the city and what makes them stand out.

An apartment complex is a property that is comprised one more than one building.

There’s no standard for how many units are in a complex, but the very use of the term tends to hint at scale.

An apartment complex can be contained on one New York City block, or one large property lot with a "campus" spanning over a few blocks, or even spread out between multiple blocks.

The complex can appear as one very large building when all the buildings are attached. These complexes usually have multiple entry points from different areas of the property.

There is also usually more than one address assigned to a complex. In other words, each component building in the complex may have its own address.

However, you do have apartment complexes that are also made up of multiple detached buildings and appear more obviously as an apartment community.

What is an Apartment Complex?

  • An apartment complex is made up of more than one building.
  • Usually there is more than one address associated with apartment complexes.
  • Apartment complexes commonly include amenities such as elevators, laundry, parking, and security. Luxury properties will have provide more exclusive amenities.
  • Apartment complexes can also be comprised of more than one type of property, including retail/commercial spaces.

The Perks of Living in an Apartment Complex

For modern, new-construction buildings, amenities (some of them quite luxe) are at the heart of what makes complexes so appealing to buyers and renters—beyond the apartments themselves.

Such a series of buildings can be owned by one developer, and in some cases by more than one.

Some typical amenities are a doorman or concierge; a gym; parking; and a laundry room.

More elaborate perks can include: rooftop, garden, or other green space (which can also include individual terraces for apartment units); an indoor or outdoor pool; a private screening room or bowling alley; dedicated areas and services for children, as well as for pets.

Another feature of apartment complexes that draw tenants in is the immediate community or community vibe, brought on primarily through its exclusivity.

Many apartment complexes in enclosed communities also offer green spaces, which can be sorely lacking in an urban environment.

Security in an Apartment Complex

Most apartment complexes have some type of security, whether it's a hired security staff, cameras, or a combination.

Some complexes only one entry point with a security booth and gate to monitor the comings and goings on the property.

Luxury properties may have a 24-hour doorman or concierge to serve such a purpose.

Other properties that are more spread out may hire security for each individual building.

What Types of Properties are Apartment Complexes?

Apartment complexes in New York can be a variety of properties--co-ops, condos, and rentals.

Co-op apartment complexes commonly span over several blocks or are housed in an enclosed community.

Condo apartment complexes tend to be contained on city block.

Read on: What's the Difference Between a Co-op and a Condo?

Rentals apartment complexes can appear as a variety of these.

Furthermore, some complexes are a combination of condos and rentals, or co-op and rentals. There are also commonly commercial units available for lease on the ground levels.

Public Housing controlled by the city is also largely apartment complexes.

Notable New York City Apartment Complexes

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village


The twin developments of Stuyvesant Town (StuyTown) and Peter Cooper Village are interesting, because they represent two addresses and two types of apartment complexes that are linked.

StuyTown was constructed between 1945–1947, with returning World War II veterans in mind.

The buildings span 14th – 23rd Streets, on the east side of Manhattan. First Avenue is to the west and the East River to the east of the sprawling hive of 110 buildings and 11,250 rental apartments.

The series of buildings, built on over 80 acres, are over 70 years old and the units (which are large) have been renovated and modernized.

(The Peter Cooper Village units are said to be slightly larger.) For children, there are also numerous playgrounds within the joint complex.

Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) was the developer. According to their site, “Stuyvesant Town is named after Peter Stuyvesant, the last Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, whose farm occupied the site in the 17th century.”

Peter Cooper Village got its name from “the 19th-century industrialist, inventor, and philanthropist Peter Cooper, who founded Cooper Union.”

Wildly popular once completed, the complex received 7,000 applications on its first day and 100,000 by the time the first residents moved in.

The complex has changed hands several time since 2006. The current owner is Blackstone/Ivanhoe Cambridge.

The apartments are no-fee and rented directly from an on-site leasing agent—therefore, no brokers fee.

StuyTown has an annual income requirement of 36 times one month’s rent for applicants. However, for those who don’t qualify, guarantors are accepted.

A former MetLIfe president said of StuyTown that its aim was to enable New York City residents "to live in a park—to live in the country in the heart of New York."

The Dakota

Another legendary New York City complex—and one even older than StuyTown and Peter Cooper Village—is The Dakota (also known as the Dakota Apartments).

It’s had many famous residents, including Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Lennon lived there until his murder in front of the building in 1980.

Located at 72nd Street and Central Park West, the Dakota is a co-op building. It was completed in 1884. A square building, it centers around a courtyard.

When it first opened, it had 65 apartments, each with between 4–20 rooms, and each unit uniquely designed.

It was built for affluent New Yorkers of that era. It was constructed with staircases and elevators in each apartment meant to accommodate help, and there were also servants’ quarters.

The floors are inlaid with mahogany, oak, and cherry.

The original building included a communal gym and playroom. More lavishly, the complex also featured a garden, tennis court, and private croquet lawns. The Dakota was designated a landmark in 1976.

One Brooklyn Bridge Park

One Brooklyn Bridge Park is located in Brooklyn’s DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood.

DUMBO was once a sprawling industrial wasteland and Jehovah’s Witness outpost by day (they owned much of the property there) and seedy hotbed of illicit activity by sundown.

Today it’s the home of coveted waterfront property and boasts everything from activities like soccer, basketball, kayaking, and open-air movie screenings, to glossy shops and restaurants.

That’s the neo-DUMBO in which One Brooklyn Bridge Park launched in 2008, overlooking… You guessed it: Brooklyn Bridge Park—all 85 acres of it; in addition to skyline views of Manhattan.

The complex’s condos are constructed from the architectural bones of a former warehouse that was built in 1928.

Its range of one- to five-bedroom luxury loft apartments boast 13-foot-high ceilings and huge, light-filled windows.

Amenities include a state-of-the-art gym, movie screening room, yoga studio, music and video game rooms, and a golf simulator room an outdoor putting green, storage space, and valet parking.

Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Staying in DUMBO, Pierhouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park is a residential neighbor to One Brooklyn Bridge Park—and even more luxe.

One of its developers is a well-known one in real estate, and even consumer, circles: Toll Brothers City Living.

The two-building,106-unit complex features one- to five-bedroom duplex apartments, each with private, outdoor spaces.

Built in 2015, the interior includes distinct materials and detailing, including: custom-created walnut cabinetry, Italian-made marble slab counter and island tops, reclaimed pine floors; spa fixtures and marble floors in the bathrooms; and energy-efficient solar shades in each room.

There are also two fitness centers, a meditation studio, resident event space, pet wash, playroom, bike storage, valet parking, and an electric car charging station in the Pierhouse garage.

They also have a partnership with 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, which adjoins the complex, that allows residents to have access to amenities there, including their spa, rooftop pool and bar, and farm-to-table restaurant.

One Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards, like Brooklyn Bridge Park, has a mixture of open-access public space and high-end residential living, and very unique example of what an apartment complex is.

At the center is what became an instantly iconic monument, the Vessel, which some New Yorkers (in typical NYC fashion) say looks like a giant shawarma.

Other high-profile public spaces are The Shed (a multi-use cultural space within Hudson Yards) and, a stone’s throw away, The High Line.

One Hudson Yards, at West 30th Street, offers luxury one- to four-bedroom luxury rentals. T

here is a private bowling alley and game room, basketball court, swimming pool, spa, and Equinox-curated fitness center. Residents also have exclusive access to Hudson Yards’ events.