Who really lives in those fancy condos?

Looks so pretty -- but will anyone really live there?

Interesting piece in the NY Times about the growing number of high-end condos in the city that are empty most of the year. Thurns out that the more expensive the housing, the more likely it will be owned by somebody who hardly ever lives there:

Pieds-à-terre exist throughout the New York City condo market, a separate little world of vacation homes and investment properties. But the higher up you go in price, the higher the concentration is likely to be of owners who spend only a few months, a few weeks or even just a few days each year in their apartments. This very costly form of desolation means that some of the city’s most expensive residential buildings stand mostly dark, lonesome and empty on the inside.

Worth thinking about as the voters prepare to weigh in on the 8 Washington project, which will be the most expensive new condos in the city's history, and 75 Howard, another set of high-end condos.

New York City has no idea how many of these fancy properties are occupied on only a very part-time basis:

There are no reliable statistics on the number of pieds-à-terre in New York City, but real estate experts say that global economic jitters have drawn more and more astonishingly wealthy people into the market in recent years. They come from all over, whether Monaco, Moscow or Texas, looking for a safe place to put their money, as well as a trophy, and perhaps a second — or third or fourth or fifth — home while they’re at it.

And as far as I know, and I've been watching this for a long time, the city's never done that sort of study, either. We're getting ready to turn over large, valuable portions of the waterfront to developers who want to build housing for the very rich -- and we don't even know if the people who buy this units are actually going to live here.

Shouldn't we at least be asking that question?