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Pools Are For Fools

Plus, Chuck Knoblauch looks down on Murray Hill

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Realty Bites:
All Wet

Apartment-pool buyers take a bath.

Maybe you shouldn't put a swimming pool in your apartment after all. The chlorine smells, your building will sue you if it leaks, and it doesn't do much for the resale value. Only three of Manhattan's high-rise apartments have private pools, and the two sales this year went less than swimmingly. Arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi spent seven years finding a buyer for his pool-in-a-duplex in the Olympic Tower (641 Fifth Avenue), and it's going for $11 million, though he wanted $32 million. The pool "reminds me of a Holiday Inn," says one broker. And it can be tough to find a pool guy you can trust around the trophy wife. "I think some people weren't interested in keeping it up," says Corcoran's Nicole Hatoun, who sold the apartment. The 4,400-square-foot penthouse of the Excelsior (303 East 57th Street, pictured below) just sold for only $3 million after three years on the market. "It's a movie-star-type apartment," says Andrea Wohl Lucas of Douglas Elliman, who found a buyer with an ad in Variety. Built in groovier times (1967) as a playpen for the tower's developer, it's a two-bedroom -- with 5,000 square feet of terraces and an $8,500-a-month maintenance. "It's a small apartment with a big pool," says one broker. "It looks like it's the pool for the building," Lucas says. The third? It's 8,000 square feet on top of the Galleria (117 East 57th Street) that had gone unsold for seventeen years until David Copperfield bought it in 1997 for $7.4 million. Now he's fighting with the building over expansion plans to make it more swimmable.
CARL SWANSON

The House That Chuck Bought
The Bombers' leadoff hitter starts the season in new digs.

Apparently, yankees second-baseman Chuck Knoblauch isn't expecting to be traded, his much-talked-about mental lapses on the field notwithstanding. He just paid $1.45 million for a thirty-second-floor penthouse in Morgan Court, a sliver building at 211 Madison Avenue in Murray Hill, on the site of J. P. Morgan's carriage house. Surprising for a pro athlete to buy in the city (most stick to the 'burbs); even more surprising that he'd choose such a quiet area. The seller had put the place on the market because he was expecting a transfer out of state. When it didn't happen, he looked at what he could get for the place -- having paid only $825,000 in 1997 -- and decided to sell anyway. (He moved to Brooklyn.) According to the seller's broker, Hideko Horiguchi of American Real Estate Group, Knoblauch "took one look and fell in love" with the 2,400-square-foot space and topped three other bidders, Steinbrenner-style, paying $50,000 over the asking price. The buyer was represented by Nikki Field of Sotheby's International Realty. And it looks like the neighbors want to hobnob with Knoblauch: The building's other penthouse, listed at $1.2 million, was just taken off the market.
CHRISTOPHER BONANOS

Notable Sales

Upper East Side
15 East 69th Street
Four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath, 3,025-square-foot condo. Asking: $4.5 million. Selling: $4.4 million. Charges and taxes: $4,400. Time on market: two weeks.

Make big $$$ from home -- without even living there. "They bought it a year ago from floor plans," says William B. May's Joanne Greene of the original buyers of this apartment in the Westbury Hotel, now reformatted as condos. They closed in January for $3.6 million. But while it was being constructed, their minds wandered, they put it up for sale, and "within two weeks we had a contract for $4.4 million," says Greene. Other buyers did the same thing: "Three apartments came on at the same time and went for almost a million more than what they sold for a week before," she says. The buyer is moving from a rental. The sellers took their $800,000 and moved to a big house.

Chelsea
117 West 17th Street
Three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,600-square-foot prewar condo. Asking: $1.055 million. Selling: $1.027 million. Charges and taxes: $1,146. Time on market: eight months.

Brooks van Horn was a costuming company that made everything from those cool fruit suits used in the Fruit of the Loom commercials to the Nazi uniforms for The Sound of Music. But in 1982, it moved its Santa suits -- and two acres of other costumes -- out of this 1898 building and sold it to the condoization elves. This penthouse has eleven-foot ceilings, a fireplace, and a 500-square-foot terrace but no central A/C. An engaged investment banker and model -- how's that for genes? -- got it from a family who bought it in 1993 for $440,000 and renovated it themselves. Now they've moved to Greenwich Village. "They did fine," says their broker, Corcoran's Arlyne Blitz. The new owners plan to renovate professionally.
C.S.


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