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
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.
Motor Authority: Why is Rob interested in this project?
Hans: He collects cars, thinks it is a great concept and is partner and owner. We know each other very well, he was my artist in the 90s when I was with EMI. We drive cars together every week and race cars when we can.
Motor Authority: What is the social aspect of TheCarLoft all about?
Hans: People that have collectible cars or supercars, and want to store them in a beautiful location, clean them, do minor work and spend some time with their car friends--take drives, watch games and use the loft for weekend stays or as a temporary office. Other projects are only storage, with no social component. This is the first of its kind.
Motor Authority: What other amenities will the community feature?
Hans: There will be a central pool and barbecue area, an office with a manager and 24-hour security.
Motor Authority: What sort of repair work/maintenance activities will be possible? Can you install a lift, for instance?
Hans: Car lifts, high-voltage outlets, drainage, all will be possible. Only welding and hard body work will not be allowed.
Motor Authority: How much will the lofts cost?
Hans: The price range is from $189,000 to $230,000 depending on size. The floorplans and prices are also on the website.
For more on the TheCarLoft, hit up the website for the full details, including pricing, floorplans, location, features, and more input on the project from Rob himself.