LIKE iced tea, perhaps, or casual Fridays, outdoor pools are in many minds forever linked with summer. After all, the sensation of sun on wet skin after a few dips in the deep end just about sums up the season.
But that pleasure is denied to most apartment-dwellers in New York City. If their building has a pool at all, it is probably of the enclosed kind.
Of the approximately 150 pools in residential buildings in Manhattan, only about 15 are outside, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; some of those 15 are in private town houses.
And as new developments more commonly choose indoor pools, their outdoor counterparts are becoming the rarest of amenities — a fact that seems only to embolden their fans.
“It’s a really, really nice feature, especially with all this heat this year,” Steve Brookstone said on a recent afternoon while sitting by the outdoor pool at the St. Tropez, a condominium at 340 East 64th Street. There was a faint smell of coconut oil in the air, as a dozen or so people basked in the sun and a man wearing goggles did the crawl with Midtown’s skyscrapers as a backdrop.
“You’re able to cool off, you’re able to swim and you’re able to meet your neighbors,” he said.
Six years ago Mr. Brookstone, a wine store owner, moved from Baldwin, N.Y., on Long Island, to a two-bedroom owned by his family in the St. Tropez, in part because he was such a fan of the pool. In fact, his every-other-day visits to the rooftop aerie prompted the condo’s board to make him head of its pool committee, which means he has to make sure that only those who have paid their $200 seasonal dues can access this would-be Riviera in the sky.
The first pool in an apartment building in New York was very likely the five-lane model inside London Terrace Towers, the co-op part of the vast London Terrace complex on West 23rd Street in Chelsea. Residents began swimming there in 1930.
But like most pools built since, it is enclosed. New or converted condominium buildings, like 20 Pine Street in the financial district; the Edge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and the Aldyn on the Upper West Side, all offer indoor places to swim, as do new rentals like New York by Gehry, on Spruce Street.
A hybrid approach was adopted by other developments, like 100 11th Avenue, whose 70-foot-long pool can be partly opened to the outdoors in season.
But a few new developments have broken with the pack by placing their pools completely outdoors, where swimmers can enjoy cooling natural breezes. Among these are the Mercedes House, a rental and condo from Two Trees Management near Hell’s Kitchen, and 2 Cooper, a rental from the Atlantic Development Group on the Bowery.
On that recent weekday afternoon at the St. Tropez, which opened in 1964, there was a sense that the building might have had more sunbathers in the past.
Kathy Mulkeen, a broker with Prudential Douglas Elliman, is currently listing a three-bedroom three-bath apartment in the building, No. 27A, for $2.1 million. Ms. Mulkeen, who has sold 60 units in the building since the early 1990s, says that the families who have been buying there in recent years tended to have second homes in beachy locales, meaning they only occasionally hit the roof. “They tend to go away on weekends a lot,” she said.
At other buildings, the pool’s popularity has made it a source of conflict.
The A Building, a glass-and-steel 96-unit condo at 425 East 13th Street in the East Village, opened in 2008, and quickly acquired a spring-break-style reputation for swinging pool parties.
To get the situation under control, the building hired security guards to limit access to the roof, whose focal point is a pool ringed with manicured hedges that wouldn’t be out of place in a South Florida hotel, though it gazes out over the tops of tenements.
These days all residents and guests must be prepared to show photo IDs to swim, and to wear wristbands while there, according to the building’s rules, which were updated in June. Somewhat cryptically, the rules also state that “staff has been instructed to call the police should people be found sleeping on the roof deck. It is assumed that anyone doing so is a vagrant.” (No water balloons are allowed, either.)
Even though the pool might seem too popular for its own good, the building’s developers say they have no regrets. “I would put a pool on a roof again, 100 percent,” said Robert Kaliner, the president of the Ascend Group, which was a development partner in the A Building with Magnum Real Estate Group. “It’s an incredible amenity, and people are enjoying it.”
Penthouse E in the building, a two-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath unit with wide-plank oak floors, motorized shades and a spacious terrace, is listed at $1.895 million with Jonathan Isaacs and Steven Ganz of Aligned Real Estate.
After the A Building went up, Mr. Kaliner teamed with Magnum again on another condo with an outdoor pool, 133 West 22nd Street in Chelsea, where No. 10B, a one-bedroom with one and a half baths, three closets and Poggenpohl kitchen cabinets, is listed for $1.35 million with Shawn Felker of Prudential Douglas Elliman.
Instead of being sited on the roof, which offers numerous wood-lined lounging areas, the robin’s-egg-blue pool is in the building’s backyard, which may be a first for New York.
Mr. Kaliner says the decision to tuck it away there had nothing to do with the A Building’s problems but merely allowed for a nice flow from the adjacent fitness center. “I liked the idea of people being on a treadmill overlooking it,” he said.
It is not a given that pools — indoors or out — add a premium to prices, said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal company Miller Samuel.
Mr. Miller said that in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, pools were often seen as must-have amenities, and that some new rental and condo buildings still portray them as such. But while a pool might have influenced a decision to buy or rent, people weren’t necessarily willing to pay more, back then or even today.
Judging from his own experience living in a building with a pool some 25 years ago, Mr. Miller said, residents didn’t seem to use it all that much once they had moved in. He added that that might have had something to do with the overpowering smell of the chlorine then in use.
Pools today generally smell a lot less harsh. Products replacing the old powdered form of bleach are usually premixed with water, making them less pungent, said Jamie Damaso, the owner of New Fitness Pool Management of Manhattan, which cleans and provides lifeguards at the rooftop pool at the Newbury, a co-op at 250 East 87th Street.
Built in 1970, the Newbury has a rooftop pool that on busy hot weekend days sees about 40 people at a time, though as many as 70 are permitted, Mr. Damaso said. The building also has an outdoor children’s pool around the corner.
“You get the air, you get the sun,” he said. “It’s totally different from an indoor pool.”
On a recent day, Howard Somers, a retired engineer and seven-year resident of the Newbury, was sprawled on a blue reclining chair by the pool listening to music on headphones. “You don’t have to feel like you have to go somewhere else for shade cover, or salvation,” Mr. Somers said.
The Newbury has a one-bedroom for sale, No. 29J, for $559,000. It has parquet floors, a renovated galley kitchen and room for a dining-room table, and is listed by Robin Portnoy of the Corcoran Group. The building also charges pool dues of $360 per adult per season, with a maximum family cap of $1,085.
To keep pool parties in check and keep late-night cannonballs to a minimum, the building has a rule that each family member can bring only one guest at a time, and lifeguards close the area at 9 p.m.
Whether indoors or out, the pools in older buildings as well as in new construction capture the sensibility expressed by the original sales brochures for Gracie Towers, a 21-story co-op on the Upper East Side that opened in 1961.
In Jet-Age-cool language, the brochures boast of the escapist joys of the building’s 20-by-40-foot outdoor rooftop pool. “In short,” one reads, “a country club atmosphere for the satisfying pleasure of quiet relaxation, high above the city.”
As “Wall Street 2” teaches us, Money Never Sleeps. Except for maybe sometimes in a really expensive penthouse.
The Flatiron apartment featured in the movie sold for $15 million, close to its asking price, to a “Wall Street titan” the New York Post reports. The seller put it on the market last year when the movie came out, hoping to cash in on all those long shots of Shia LeBouf and Carrie Mulligan in their characters’ love nest. Until Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) messes everything up. He still thinks greed is good … or … does he?
Regardless, it is easy to see the fruits of capitalism in this 6,500-square-foot loft. The four-bedroom, five-bathroom apartment boasts and additional 3,000square feet of outdoor deck space.
Curbed points out the seller, also a finance type, bought the apartment for $1.4 million in 2003 and added the second level. Not a shabby return on investment.
The Flatiron penthouse featured in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” has finally found a buyer — for close to its asking price of $15 million. The Post broke the story of the apartment going on the block when its owner, a financial executive, listed the 6,500-square-foot loft at 31 West 21st Street in spring last year in a bid to capitalize on the movie’s release and snag a buyer.
The buyer is — not surprisingly — another Wall Street titan who bought the property through an LLC and does not want to be named. The swanky four-bedroom, five-bathroom apartment has a floating staircase and a sprawling 3,000-square-foot deck that is featured in the movie.
Aligned Real Estate had the exclusive listing since the film premiered last year. Aligned founders Jon Isaacs and Steve Ganz had no comment on the sale.
Don’t doubt the ongoing power of the West Village townhouse market.
In just two weeks, a townhouse at 30 Grove St. in need of serious renovation sold just below the asking price of $8.5 million. We hear the new owner, in finance, will restore the home.First, they have to convert it to a one-family as the townhouse was previous cut up into lower and upper duplex apartments that rented for around $12,000 each. Together, the home will have seven bedrooms and four-and-a-half baths to go with a garden, deck and rooftop.
Grove St. is hot. A few months ago, newly renovated and in mint condition 38 Grove sold for $14 million, and 28 Grove is on the market for $13.995 million. 30 Grove, a Greek Revival home built in 1857, is across from Barrow Street Music School.
Tatiana Cames of the Corcoran Group had the listing. Jon Isaacs and Steve Ganz, who founded Aligned Real Estate, in 2009 represented the buyers.
The heir to the William Gottlieb estate, which controls a giant swath of Manhattan real estate, has broken with his family’s traditional buy-and-hold strategy by selling a downtown building.
The sale of the townhouse at 79 Horatio St. marks the beginning of a repositioning of the family’s holdings of more than 100 downtown properties that brokers have estimated to be worth as much as $1 billion. The townhouse, along with a building on East 10th St., were listed in May by Neil Bender, the nephew of Mr. Gottlieb.A spokesman for Mr. Bender said that the estate didn’t expect to make many more sales but was planning to add properties.
“We are currently disposing of two properties that do not fit with the company’s development and growth plans,” said Gregg Sullivan. “We anticipate the addition of significant and strategic properties to the portfolio in 2011 and beyond.”
The two buildings were listed last year shortly after Mr. Bender won a favorable New York court ruling following a bitter dispute with his sister that had divided the family.
Downtown real-estate agents suggest the battle had discouraged Mr. Bender from putting other properties up for sale. Some brokers remain hopeful that the estate will put more select property on the market.
“The Gottliebs own some of the city’s most prized property downtown,” said Jonathan Isaacs, a co-founder of brokerage Aligned Real Estate. “The West Village inventory is extremely limited. I would love nothing more than to hear they are selling more property.”
The Horatio Street property, a white-brick townhouse built around 1880, is at a coveted Meatpacking District location, near the West Village and the High Line. But people who viewed the 6,750-square-foot property said it was in poor condition and would require gut renovations.
It was listed for $8.5 million and its sale closed late last month for less than $7 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. The buyer’s identity wasn’t made known.
Some have wondered if the sale and the break with Gottlieb tradition of holding onto properties, especially during a period when prices remain well below recent highs, suggested that Mr. Bender was trying to raise cash.
Tax experts say many owners were motivated to sell high-priced property by year-end because they feared an increase in capital gains taxes in 2011, though lawmakers reached a mid-December compromise to avoid any increase.
But Mr. Sullivan said the sale wasn’t done to raise cash or for tax purposes.
The three-story East 10th Street property remains for sale at $6 million. Both properties were listed by Jonathan Phillips and Ginnie Gardiner of Halstead Property. Neither could be reached for comment.
The long-running feud among Mr. Gottlieb’s heirs often spilled into the public spotlight. Retail and residential tenants sometimes complained that they were caught in the cross fire because, they said, during the dispute the buildings fell into disrepair.
Mr. Gottlieb started buying up downtown Manhattan property in the 1950s. When he died as a bachelor in 1999, he left his estate to his sister, Mollie Bender.
After Ms. Bender broke her hip, she petitioned to resign as executor to the will and requested her son Neil be named as the estate’s administrator. Before that happened, Ms. Bender died in 2007.
Her will left the Gottlieb estate to her son and her husband and excluded her daughter, Cheryl Dier.
Three days after Ms. Bender’s death, Ms. Dier filed objections to her mother’s will and to the appointment of Neil and Irving Bender as preliminary executors of the estate.
She alleged that Neil was unfit to serve as the estate’s administrator and that he was a “habitual drunkard,” according to court records. A New York surrogate court had ruled there was no evidence that he couldn’t handle estate affairs. In May, the appellate court upheld that opinion.