April 9, 2020

Eat, party and even sleep next to your wheels

By Jura Koncius // Oct. 16, 2018

Since the dawn of the 21st century, the wow factor of a house has centered on the trophy kitchen: a temple of polished stone counters, party-size islands and top-of-the-line appliances.

But that’s all gotten a bit boring. A new status symbol is zooming onto the domestic landscape: the luxury garage. High-performance Italian cars, after all, are much sexier than high-performance Italian dishwashers.

The latest space to transform from utilitarian to cool, garages are where Americans store some of their most precious, and most expensive, toys. The lowly garage is increasingly being blinged. In 2015, owners of single-family detached homes spent $3.2 billion adding garages, according to an analysis of the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the National Association of Home Builders.

Despite urban millennials’ purported distaste for collecting and the rise of ride-hailing, Americans haven’t given up their love of cars. Garages (and Bugattis) of the stars are catnip on blogs, TV and social media: Jay Leno, 50 Cent, Ralph Lauren and Britney Spears are just a few who have shared theirs.

The rich (but not famous) also have jumped on the bandwagon, with tricked-out warehouses, second-homes-as-garages and car compounds.

Short on space? Technology and creativity — and of course cash — can still open doors. “More and more people are interested in urban vs. rural homes, and this presents a challenge if you want to have your cars at your house and you don’t have 40 acres,” says Jonathan Klinger, a spokesman for Hagerty, an insurer of collector cars. And that desire is feeding an industry of space-saving, high-tech lifts, organization systems and even auto elevators that industry experts expect to continue growing as more Americans move to cities and suburbs.

For those who absolutely must have more space, there’s a new twist: Private luxury-garage communities are springing up across the country. Your car lives here, but you don’t. M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich., opened two years ago. Here, car condos (from $125,000 to $1.5 million) on an 87-acre property are customized to be not only places to store autos, but posh, multilevel entertaining spaces, some with cigar rooms and home-theater systems. It’s an autocentric lifestyle package that allows car buffs to hang with other car buffs, says M1’s founder, Brad Oleshansky. The property includes a 11/2 -mile performance track; automotive retail shops and themed restaurants are expected to open next year. Oleshansky says annual condo fees are $2,280 to $4,560; membership in M1 Motorsports Club, open to condo owners only, has a one-time $20,000 initiation fee and a $3,750 annual fee.

One fan is Bill Kozyra, a native of Detroit and president and chief executive of TI Automotive, who says he “was born with gasoline” in his blood. Kozyra is passionate about his collection of cars, which includes Corvettes, Camaros, an Aston Martin Vanquish S and a Lamborghini Huracán. Kozyra, 61, has two car condos at M1 that can store up to 25 cars to supplement his at-home garage. His 6,500-square-foot house in nearby Rochester is attached by a breezeway to a similar-looking house whose main floor is actually a garage for 15 cars. (The floors above and below the garage hold guest quarters and entertaining spaces.) This way, at home, Kozyra can easily access a Lamborghini or a Maserati, or just jump into his black Ford F-150 pickup.