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TheCarLoft: Rob Van Winkle's Live-In Social Garage Project

TheCarLoft: Rob Van Winkle's Live-In Social Garage Project

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It's a classic first-world dilemma: you have all your dream cars, but you can only drive one at a time, and they live in a garage, out of sight of your friends and family. How to get the full enjoyment of displaying them in a social environment? Rob Van Winkle--perhaps most widely known as Vanilla Ice--and his partner Hans Reinisch have the answer: TheCarLoft. In this interview, we explore the what, why, where, and how of this new car-themed living experience, including Rob's involvement with the project.

First, a little background. Rob is a definite car guy--from his famous "5.0" lyric in "Ice, Ice Baby," to our coverage of his thoughts on the new 2011 Mustang 5.0, and his dad's job as a dealer, he's been into cars his whole life. His new project, TheCarLoft, claims to be the first of its kind: a gated community of "carlofts," 1,800-3,000 square foot finished living spaces centered around large display areas for cars. The living space is between 700 and 900 square feet depending on the floor plan chosen, and features a bathroom, bed, show, TV and a small kitchenette downstairs in the garage area. The garage comes equipped with a choice of Snap-On or Craftsman toolbox, facilities for minor repair/maintenance work, and a large showcase area to park and display cars. But the concept doesn't stop there. TheCarLoft is intended as a social community where like-minded enthusiasts can share their collections in addition to staging weekend getaways and gatherings. Van Winkle calls it "As cool as ice--this is the new place to have. Storage for collectibles on steroids."

TheCarLoft is up against some stiff competition for the car collector bucks, however, as a number of similar projects offer far more luxurious settings, including the 200 Eleventh Avenue condos in Manhattan's Chelsea district, which offer full condos with the ability to drive your car directly to your floor--for prices that measure in the millions. There are also more focused, garage-centric locales like the Park Place Car Condos in nearby Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Even farther afield, the similarly-named CarLoft condos in Germany offer a lift to bring your car to your floor, a luxury condo space and a garden for each unit. None offer the same combination of living space/showroom that TheCarLoft is planning, however.

Van Winkle has already put his money where his mouth is, buying a large-floorplan example with room for four cars, where he plans to keep a 1964 Cadillac convertible and a rotating handful of newer cars, including his 2007 Rolls Royce Phantom. Sales of the units have already started, with 6 of the first 22 units to be built in Delray Beach, Florida already spoken for. Groundbreaking is planned for June/July with the first units available this fall. Van Winkle and Reinisch are looking to franchise the project to other cities as well.

Beyond the social living/showroom space, there's also a tie-in between TheCarLoft and events like The Supercar Experience, a program that lets participants drive a number of supercars over a day-long experience for a flat fee.

TheCarLoft: Rob Van Winkle's Live-In Social Garage Project

TheCarLoft: Rob Van Winkle's Live-In Social Garage Project

Enlarge Photo

Motor Authority: Rob, what do you envision as your use for TheCarLoft?

Rob: Finally I found the right place for my toys. It's a place where I can hang out after fighting with my honey over spending too much time on my cars, the right place to hang out with my buddies and have a perfect excuse.


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