The Real Deal New York

The business of swimming — or not swimming — at 15 CPW

June 30, 2011
By Katherine Clarke

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The pool at 15 Central Park West

One of the selling points emphasized by brokers at the Edge condominium in Williamsburg is the major weekend scene at the pool, with lots of sunbathing, picnicking and socializing. At 20 Pine’s pool in the Financial District, neighbors regularly practice yoga and host parties.

But there will be no pool parties at 15 Central Park West this summer. Even as the weather heats up, the atmosphere at the über-exclusive condominium remains subdued, residents say, and the pool area is often deserted.

The Robert A.M. Stern-designed building has become the condominium of choice for hotshot celebrities like Denzel Washington and Sting, and finance bigwigs such as Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Citigroup Chairman Emeritus Sanford Weill. The building counts among its amenities a 75-foot lap pool in the underground fitness center, with skylights illuminated by a serene reflective pool in the courtyard directly above.

With all the star power and financial acumen housed in the building, one might expect some chichi poolside gatherings or high-wattage deal making. Not so, according to residents, who say there are rarely BlackBerrys, and no shop talk, at the pool.
“It’s never crowded,” said Noel Berk, a building resident and principal of Mercedes/Berk Private Real Estate. “Even in the summer, it’s very quiet.”

That might be because all those moguls and their families have better places to jet off to in the summer, and their busy professional lives don’t allow much time for lounging even when they are in town.

“The people that live there are very busy, very private,” explained former resident and Halstead Property vice president Dorothy Somekh. “I only ever saw one or two people at a time.”

The residents who do frequent the pool appear to view it as a venue for exercise rather than recreation.

Corcoran Group Senior Vice President Robby Browne does a daily swim at the complex, where he’s lived since 2007. “I try to swim a mile as often as I can,” he said.

Somekh remembered seeing Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez swimming in the building regularly. “He swims there a lot,” she said.

Residents may soon miss out on seeing A-Rod doing laps, however. The Yankees star inked a deal in February to buy a four-bedroom spread at Extell Development’s the Rushmore, and is expected to switch digs sooner rather than later.
It looks like A-Rod will have another serious pool for swimming laps at his new home. Moshe Balalo, a resident of the Rushmore and co-founder (note: correction appended) of Blu Realty Group, says the pool at the Lincoln Square building is also favored by serious swimmers rather than residents looking to relax. “There are always people there,” he said, “but no lounging.”

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