The latest add-on to lure buyers of high-end condos? Trees.

It’s not quite Central Park, with its 26,000 trees and 136 acres of woodland, but a 0.8-acre mini “floating forest” of 101 pines will add a dash of green to New York City.

The urban wood isn’t a new public space, but a real estate marketing tactic. It’s being used to sell a new downtown condo at 101 Warren Street in trendy Tribeca–and even in a slowing market, it see.

By the time the building opens at the end of 2007, the 30-foot-tall trees will be set on mounds of soil next to a meandering path five floors above street level, on the roof of a Whole Foods (nasdaq: WFMI – news – people ) store. A 30-story limestone and glass condo tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill will rise behind the trees.

The bottom line: The forest added $3 million to the cost of a $600 million project. That’s the price of the cheapest three-bedroom condo in the building (prices range from $1.2 million to $16 million). The payoff: Out of the 228 units up for sale at 101 Warren, 112 sold in the first eight weeks.

101 Warren is one of several condo projects across the country that mark the–ahem–greening of rooftops in residential developments.

“Developers are using a previously wasted resource–roofs–and turning it into real estate value,” says Leslie Hoffman, executive director of Earth Pledge, a nonprofit in New York City that promotes environmentally friendly building techniques.

Developers and marketers are always scheming to get buyers into the sales offices of new city condos–and to get them to pay a premium once they’re there. Common come-ons over the last few years have included granite kitchens, glass curtain walls, brand-name architects, celebrity neighbors, building concierges, basketball and squash courts, and wine cellars. Now, they’re turning to innovative landscape design.

“They’ve run out of ways to market a kitchen,” says landscape architect Thomas Balsley, who created the Warren Street pine forest for developer Edward Minskoff (notable for putting palm trees in the atrium of the World Financial Center in the 1980s).

In part, the “forest” solves a design problem. Zoning rules generally require structures built out to the street to have set-back terraces with flat roofs. This new strategy turns what could be a black, tar- or rubber-covered eyesore into an amenity.

“I wanted green space, an oasis,” says Minskoff. “I didn’t want people looking down at an ugly roof.”

The new look goes far beyond the potted evergreen shrubs that have long adorned terraces and rooftop gardens on some residential high-rises and office buildings (like Rockefeller Center).

At Optima Camelview Village in Scottsdale, Ariz., green roofs are a fundamental part of the design of the six-story, 11-building complex. There are 15 acres of green roofs on the 18-acre site. Common green roof space sprawls over the underground parking garage. And each condo has a 75% landscaped terrace of up to 3,000 square feet, either cantilevered out over open space or over the unit below it. Plantings include rosemary, pigmy date palms and three-foot honey mesquite trees that will grow up to 20 feet tall.

“Instead of stepping out onto a balcony, it feels like you’re stepping into an outdoor living space,” says developer David Hovey, president of Chicago-based Optima. Aesthetics were the first reason for the green roofs, he says, but they have other benefits: protecting the underlying roofing material from ultraviolet rays, acting as a storm retention system in sudden downpours, helping to purify the air and reducing the overall ambient temperature. Five hundred forty-one of 709 units are sold, and the first residents move in next month. Read teh full article at Forbes.com

Learn more at‚ forbes.com | 101warren.com)



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