Playing the Pool

If it’s bragging rights you’re after, forget about screening rooms, wine cellars and steam showers. The new benchmark for luxury living is having a private pool on your penthouse’s terrace. And in an apparent first, one developer is now planning on installing them as optional amenities on several high-end condominiums currently under construction throughout the city.

“Anyone can put potted plants on a terrace, but a pool-that’s a bit more complicated,” said Israeli-born developer Miki Naftali, president of Elad Properties.

Not that he’s talking about Olympic-sized pools, or even tanks sized for a suburban backyard. Even the most sprawling Manhattan terraces couldn’t accommodate those. These are rectangular pools that measure approximately seven by 14 feet, with motors that produce adjustable currents to swim against.

Granted, these kinds of pools have been around for a while, and a handful of Manhattan apartment owners may already have installed them at their own apartments. But because they’re relatively difficult to install safely, condo boards have typically frowned upon letting individuals add them to already constructed units. Mr. Naftali, however, is skirting that problem by installing them during the building’s construction. And for now, it seems he has the field to himself.

“I’ve never heard of or seen one of these things on a penthouse terrace,” said Scott Durkin, the chief operating officer of the Corcoran Group.

Construction of Mr. Naftali’s first such pool is underway on the terrace of a penthouse at 151 West 17th Street, one of two buildings-the second is a block away on 18th Street-known as the Campiello Collection. Elad completed construction on the Chelsea project about seven months ago, but this particular penthouse had been languishing on the market for almost all that time without any takers. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit, which was asking $2.5 million, has 2,300 square feet of interior space and a 2,000-square-foot roof deck.

“When the weather started warming up, I started thinking about introducing something to really show the outside,” said Mr. Naftali.

Shortly thereafter, the building’s marketing agents, Cantor Pecorella, put an ad for the penthouse in the Sunday New York Times -this time with mention of the pool. Two weeks later, they had a buyer.

“The pool was really like the cherry on the icing,” said the apartment’s soon-to-be owner, an investor from California. “I could have gone and looked at other apartments, but the pool 100 percent clinched it.”

Mr. Naftali is so enamored with the idea that he now plans to offer these pools as optional features on as many of his new penthouse units as possible. Some of his projects currently under construction include luxury condominium buildings at 21 Astor Place, 49 East 21st Street and 355 Sixth Avenue.

Mr. Naftali said each installation will cost him approximately $125,000, but he won’t jack up the asking price to recoup his costs.

“Not every $10,000 I spend do I try to compensate on the sale price,” Mr. Naftali said.

And if that first sale is any indicator, he can do well enough without itemizing a mark-up for the pools.

The $125,000 price tag includes the steel beams needed to reinforce the terraces and the wood used to create a deck around the pool. In the case of the penthouse at 151 West 17th Street, Mr. Naftali is building the pool so that its top lies flush with the terrace’s existing guardrail, giving the pool a so-called infinity edge. A clear glass railing will ring the deck as a safety precaution.


Comedian and actor Richard Belzer has sold a two-bedroom condo near Lincoln Center. Mr. Belzer, who plays Detective John Munch on the NBC show Law & Order: Special Victims Unit -one of the few New York–based television shows that actually films in the city-sold the 1,200-square-foot unit for $837,500, according to city records.

He and his wife, actress and former Playboy model Harlee McBride, bought the apartment at 43 West 61st Street in 1998, about a year before filming began on Law & Order . Prior to that, he and Ms. McBride lived in Baltimore, where Mr. Belzer, playing the same character, filmed the NBC series Homicide , which was canceled in 1999.

Mr. Belzer and Ms. McBride are currently spending time at their home in the South of France and were unavailable for comment. Mr. Belzer paid for the house in France with the money he received from an out-of-court settlement with Hulk Hogan. The wrestler made Mr. Belzer another kind of special victim in 1985, when the comedian sustained injuries during Mr. Hogan’s demonstration of a wrestling hold on live TV.

What real estate they might buy with the proceeds from their sale of the West 61st Street apartment-which has southern city and western river views, two bathrooms, a marble kitchen and marble whirlpool bath, and a separate dining area-isn’t known. They sold the unit to a couple from Atlanta-Carol and Bob Nemo, who retired to New York after running several Ace hardware stores in Georgia for upward of 30 years.

Ms. Nemo said she didn’t know why Mr. Belzer or his wife decided to sell the property.

“All I know is that they are in France for the summer,” she said, “and I assume they’re coming back.”


320 Central Park West

One-bedroom, one-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $495,000. Selling: $480,000.

Maintenance: $983; 40 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: 68 days.

ARDSLEY WORTH THE TROUBLE This 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom managed to woo one young couple quickly. Very quickly. In fact, it was the first place they saw (in the midst of a midwinter snowstorm, no less) and the only place they put a bid on. They came to broker Jolanta Zonca at William B. May in the beginning of February with two conditions that seemed incompatible-a tight budget and a tight radius around Central Park. So Ms. Zonca was prepared for a long haul. But the first place they went to, listed by Eric Babon, another broker at William B. May, turned out to be just what they were looking for-good space, huge closets and the perfect locale. “They were asking me what I thought abut this neighborhood,” Ms. Zonca said, noting that the couple didn’t pass up on their 2 p.m. showing time despite the horrid weather. “I said, ‘This area, this price-it’s worth it to think about it.’ Within two hours, they had called me back. They’d placed the offer by 5 p.m.” The sellers were sad to see the place go, but with a third child on the way, they were moving up to Westchester so they could have more room. “After the first one, I told them it was time to move,” said Mr. Babon jokingly. The building itself was also a good choice for the buyers-the famed prewar Ardsley satisfied their artistic impulses. “It’s an Art Deco building,” said Mr. Babon, adding that the 1930’s touches are visible in the lobby and in the apartment as well. The apartment is in original condition, with Art Deco doorknobs, hinges, window handles and even a crystal mirror in the bathroom. The Ardsley is also the building where Barbra Streisand once lived, though she unloaded her $4 million penthouse there in April of 2002.


400 East 56th Street

Two-bedroom, two-bathroom co-op.

Asking: $925,000. Selling: $890,000.

Maintenance: $2,061.58; 48 percent tax-deductible.

Time on the market: three months.

YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT Green tiles in the bathroom. Peeling wallpaper throughout-in the kitchen, it’s a yellow-and-orange flower print, 70’s-style. Dark wood furniture in the bedroom. Thick carpeting, described as “unlivable” by the listing broker. The bathroom and kitchen fixtures were so old, they were almost unusable. “It needed some sprucing up, to say the least,” said Elyse Roberts at William B. May, who had the exclusive on the apartment. “The biggest thing was that we really needed a couple with a vision.” So Ms. Roberts went “into full force” showing the apartment, in the hopes of finding that far-sighted buyer who could see through the apartment’s dated look. She was helped by the fact that a two-bedroom on a high floor with a south-facing balcony in Sutton Place is no small find. Ms. Roberts did eventually find a couple of professionals, with grown children, moving to the city. “They really saw the space for what it is,” said Ms. Roberts. A broker with Ashforth Warburg and Associates brought the buyer.


144 Bond Street

Three-bedroom, two-bathroom prewar townhouse.

Asking: $950,000. Selling: $970,000.

Taxes: $2,700.

Time on the market: four months.

PICTURE-PERFECT DEAL Anne, a children’s photographer, scanned the elegant three stories, four fireplaces and garden pergola of this 1866 townhouse in 15 minutes before flying off to Ohio; her husband, the editor of a business magazine, checked it out in under an hour before hastily jetting off to Colorado. But during their meager hour-and- 15-minute perusal, the young couple decided to end their on-and-off three-year search for a home with a confident bid $20,000 over the asking price. That must have provided some small comfort to the melancholy sellers, who were reluctantly leaving their residence of eight years after the husband’s publishing company relocated to him to Mendem, N.J. But in a rare display of honor trumping money, they proved their very unfiduciary priorities by turning down a much higher offer made after the initial negotiations were already underway. “I rarely-almost never-see that in real estate,” said the buyer’s Corcoran broker and friend, Kim Soule. Linda Woolfe, the Corcoran broker who worked for the sellers, said that as a token of her appreciation, the photographer who bought the place took a picture of the sellers’ daughter and dog posed prettily in front of the house-something to remember it by. Playing the Pool