the idea of a city itself is changing. In some ways, living in a dense urban area has become much more pleasant for certain types of people -- namely the affluent and those who prize proximity to the action above all else. You can now live within easy walking distance of your favorite restaurants, go see a play and shop at Target nearby. But what does it mean when urban living becomes a luxury good and a lifestyle brand?


At the Dahlia, a 38-unit building under construction on Manhattan's Upper West Side, developers say the idea is to set up condos large enough that they could reasonably replicate the feeling of a house in suburbia. The building has no studios or one-bedrooms. The largest units, with four bedrooms, are around 2,100 square feet with prices starting just over $4 million.

One of the Dahlia's biggest selling points? It has its own parking garage. "You can pull in with your S.U.V., unload and take your things in a private manner," said Shlomi Reuveni, the president of the company that is handling sales for the building. "That's very appealing." And very suburban.

In some high-end buildings, architects are giving apartments the feel of single-family homes by replicating the layouts of suburban houses. At the Quay Tower, which overlooks Brooklyn Bridge Park, there are just five condos on each floor, two of which have private elevator access. Inside, the larger units have something you see a lot of on HGTV suburban house renovation shows: large mudrooms off the back door with locker-like cubbies and sturdy ceramic-tile floors.

In Seattle, there's a new luxury apartment building with a rooftop lounge with hammocks and a chicken coop you might see in a more permissive (or at least chicken-friendly) suburb. In New York, the developer Extell is wrapping up construction on the Kent, a building on the Upper East Side that has, in addition to a stroller valet and a swimming pool where kids can take lessons, an area called "Camp Kent." It's a play space that looks like a woodsy country scene with a treehouse and a carpeted "river" leading to a private outdoor playground.

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