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Condo Market Takes a Dip

Swimming pools are an expensive fillip—but developers are finding that they make waves in the sales office.

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Were John Cheever alive today, he could easily have placed his infamous swimmer Neddy Merrill in Manhattan instead of the backyards of Westchester. Brokers and developers say at least a dozen buildings with swimming pools as one of their major attractions—that is, apart from the apartments themselves—are catching buyers’ eyes as never before. To wit: Arris Lofts in Long Island City; the Element condo at 555 West 59th Street; 115–119 Norfolk Street; 10 West End Avenue; 15 Broad Street; André Balazs’s 40 Mercer (with pools inside the most exclusive units); and, at 165 Charles Street, a Richard Meier–designed, 55-foot infinity-edge pool. “It looks like a German-engineered sports car,” says James Lansill of the Corcoran Sunshine Group, with enthusiasm.

“It’s a type of amenity that can single-handedly attract buyers,” says William Lie Zeckendorf, co-developer of 15 Central Park West, which will boast a “competition-size” 75-foot-long pool. He estimates that the price will run to several million dollars. “For some affluent buyers, it’s a critical decision-making feature.” Having a place to do laps was a lure for Jane Gorrell, a mother of two who bought at 165 Charles. “I’m kind of addicted to swimming, which is a problem if you live in New York City,” says Gorrell, who used to go for a dip at Stuyvesant High School after-hours. “I can just throw on a suit, a robe, get in an elevator, and there you are.” Not that digging a hole in the ground and tiling it up will do the trick. Designer Nick Dine, who surrounded the pool at 10 West End Avenue with coarse-cut quartzite and slate, says aesthetics matter: “These are definitely materials you wouldn’t find at the Y.”

New developments aren’t the only ones capitalizing on the trend. Broker Michele Kleier says that at 45 East 89th Street, half the buyers checking out her two-bedroom listing visit the massive rooftop pool first. And not unlike Cheever’s Neddy, they’re seeking solace. “If you have young children, it’s fabulous,” she says. “If you need it for therapeutic or exercise reasons, it’s fabulous. And if you don’t have a summer home by the beach, it’s fabulous.”


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