The Real Deal New York

Water, water everywhere

A look at the poshest private pools in Manhattan
By Tom Acitelli | July 04, 2014 07:00AM

It’s the most refreshing of amenities in these stickiest months of the year: a swimming pool. With city dwellers eager to cool off and dip their toes into any kind of water as the mercury rises — hello, dumpster pools!— it’s no surprise a swimming pool tops the wish list of many a New Yorker.

Today, there are nearly 100 condos and co-ops in Manhattan that offer swimming pools. That’s pretty sweet — if a little pedestrian. Why not up the ante with a truly private swimming pool, one that’s yours and yours alone?

Luxury brokers talk of pools within condo units or townhouses as the ultimate “wow” factor in space-starved Manhattan, where something as simple as a breakfast alcove is considered real estate gold. Right now, there are about 10 townhouses and condos in the entire borough with pools; the number is difficult to pin down because of, well, the private nature of private pools. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the city’s swankiest private pools — some of which are ripe for the taking (or, at least, renting).

And if none of these listings quite tickle your fancy, fear not: Manhattan is about to see a boom in private pools. The Soori High Line, a new 27-unit condo planned in West Chelsea along the ribbon of parkland, will feature 16 condos — each with its own pool.

Interestingly, having a swimming hole of whatever size is not necessarily a huge plus for homes on the market. As one broker diplomatically put it, high-end buyers and renters would often rather have the space that a private pool takes up. Also, Manhattan has so few private pools, it’s hard to gauge what they add — or subtract — pricing-wise. “As far as the premium, it’s very hard to price because there are not many apartments around that are similar,” said Jon M. Cella of Town Residential, who closed a deal on a $37,500-a-month rental of a Flatiron triplex with a private pool. “There are no comparables out there. It’s a hard question to answer.”

Interested in taking a virtual dip in the world of private pools? Read on for a glimpse at these “incomparable” homes.

45 East 74th Street Sale price: $26 million

The approximately 9,000-square-foot townhouse boasts two soaking spots: a hot tub with Bisazza Mosaico glass tiles on the roof and, in the lower level spa, a nearly 435-square-foot travertine saltwater pool that’s adorned with a skylight-illuminated waterwall.

The five-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom townhouse dates to 1879, and was redone in the Italian Renaissance style by its sellers, a group of Italian investors. There are modern flourishes as well, including hand-crafted bronze and leather banisters, a marble façade (imported from Italy, naturally) and “honed millwork panels.” The kitchen is state-of-the-art and there’s a wine cellar as well as a portico at the entrance.

The investors bought the townhouse in 2008 and listed it through Town Residential for $30 million; Chinese billionaire Zhang Xin bought it in late 2013.

While the basement pool was definitely a draw, said Brett Miles (who, along with fellow Town broker Jason Karadus, sold the townhouse), some prospective buyers saw it as taking away from storage space. Still, the property had a lot going for it regardless.

“It was definitely more of a plus than a negative,” Miles said. “[But] I almost wonder if we needed the pool.”

214 Lafayette Street Current rent: $80,000

Looking for some easy stress relief? This converted power substation — dating to the 19th century — has a 480-square-foot indoor pool right next to the home office. It’s added unmitigated “wow” factor to this five-story townhouse, which has hosted countless private parties, as well as video shoots for the likes of John Mayer and Beyoncé. A new tenant moved in for summer at the end of May, who agreed to pay the asking rent of $80,000 a month for the 13,000-square-foot spread on the Nolita-Little Italy border. The home will be available again Sept. 1.

“The reaction is always incredible when they see the pool,” Steve Halpern, the broker with Urban Compass who has the listing, said in an email of visitors to the home. “The joke is always ‘too bad I didn’t bring my bathing suit.’”

The three-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom townhouse — which was bought by its current owners in 1996, who gradually transformed it into its current palatial state — also boasts a chef’s kitchen, an elevator, 20-foot ceilings in spots, as well as a 925-square-foot “Zen terrace,” as the listing puts it. More utilitarian is the laundry room — good for all those wet swimming trunks.

40 Mercer Street, PH7 Asking price: $13.995 million

No need to use the communal pool or Jacuzzi in this 40 Mercer Street condo in Soho: The approximately 380-square-foot side terrace of Penthouse 7 holds a more than 84-square-foot lap pool-slash-Jacuzzi. It’s located just off the kitchen and the study.

The 3,006-square-foot, eight-room penthouse with three bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms first hit the sales market in September 2012 for $16 million, having last traded in 2009 for $12 million. The seller then chopped the price to $14.5 million in November of that year — and then to its current asking price of $13.995 million in September 2013. Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes of Douglas Elliman now have the listing.

The penthouse and its pool cap a condo complex developed by hotelier Andre Balazs and designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. Glass-curtain walls adorn the 14-story building, and, not surprisingly, the interiors, including those of Penthouse 7, have lots of natural light as well as severe, modernist angles and layouts.

60 Collister Street, #1C Asking price: $18.95 million

The 44-foot-long swimming pool on the lowest level of this approximately 9,300-square-foot triplex maisonette is surrounded by marble: The pool itself is made of marble, as is the deck area around it. This in-residence spa also boasts a sauna and a steam room.

The rest of the Tribeca spread also has its share of Carrera marble, especially the foyer, living room and kitchen.

Leonard Steinberg of Urban Compass, who has the listing, said the pool has drawn interest not just from swimmers, but from parents who see it as the perfect jumping off — or diving off — point for a kids’ party. Steinberg, who listed Unit 1C shortly before Memorial Day, also got to the yin-yang of all these private pools, whatever the sales and leasing histories of the properties that host them.“I do think that the most important thing is that it’s a wow-factor item and usable,” he said. “So it’s not just a gimmick.”

51 Walker Street, TH1 Sale price: $4.675 million

This 50-foot-wide Tribeca townhouse boasts some serious swagger in its serious outdoor space: The 1,574-square-foot terrace and garden has a 25-square-foot Jacuzzi, plus a pool that’s larger than 300 square feet. Alas, like some other pools on this list, the swimming hole at Townhouse 1 at 51 Walker was not necessarily a must-have, as evidenced by the tortuous sales saga of the approximately 3,200-square-foot spread: It churned through at least six listing brokers and deep-dived from an asking price of $8.695 million in 2008 to its September 2012 closing of $4.675 million.

Perhaps that’s why the blog Curbed New York called 51 Walker’s key amenity “Tribeca’s saddest pool.” Just three months after the Eklund Gomes Team at Douglas Elliman got hold of it, however, the property traded.

“Buyers are, in general, surprised and energized by the fact that there exists in the city private oases that they can purchase and at prices reasonable to the current market,” said Jorden Shea, an agent with the Eklund Gomes Team, by email. “Buyers will always clamor for the opportunity to own something uniquely exclusive to them, pools notwithstanding.”

522 West 29th Street Asking prices: TBA

This planned condo development, dubbed the Soori High Line because of its proximity to Chelsea’s super-hip elevated park, will more than double the number of private pools in Manhattan.

Of the 27 luxury condos in the 11-story building, 16 will have heated outdoor swimming pools. While asking prices are not yet available, we now know the dimensions of the pools: lengths from 23 to 25 feet, widths from 7 to 9 feet, and each will be 4 feet deep. The condos’ floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the private outdoor pools (which sport some snazzy views themselves).

All the units in the Soori, which is being designed and co-developed by Yale-trained architect Soo K. Chan, are slated to have ceilings soaring to at least 14 feet, as well as living-room fireplaces. Sales are expected to launch by the end of the year.

551 West 21st Street, Penthouse Asking price: $50 million

The nearly 62-foot-long, 9.5-foot-wide lap pool has been up for grabs since early May, when it officially went on the market as part of the 6,200-square-foot, floor-through penthouse at 551W21, the new condo complex designed by British baron Norman Foster and developed by Scott Resnick. It’s part of a three-sided, 4,500-square-foot outdoor space with dictatorial views of the Hudson River and Northern Jersey.

There is plenty more besides the pool to draw awe, according to listing broker Erin Boisson Aries of Brown Harris Stevens. The pad has a separate service entrance; double-sided wood-burning fireplaces; a kitchen with heating and cooling drawers, as well as two Sub-Zero fridges and twin wine coolers; 12-foot ceilings and a 33-foot-long loggia off the living room. There are also the sweeping views from the outdoor space.