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If You Can Make it Here

Three new condo developments offer the best of the best in upscale New York City living.

As in Miami, San Diego and Las Vegas, the luxury condo market has gone bananas in New York City, with new developments and condo conversions popping up all over Manhattan. For buyers willing to dish out the big bucks, a host of plush amenities are becoming available -- ranging from personal outdoor swimming pools to private catering from a well-known city chef.

Right now, much of the buzz is surrounding Andre Balazs, the man who built The Standard chain of hotels in Los Angeles and Miami. The hipster hotelier, who also happens to be dating Uma Thurman, has taken the luxury residential concept to the extreme with his very first condo projects, both in Manhattan: 40 Mercer and One Kenmare Square.

40 Mercer

Smack in the middle of the fashionable SoHo (south of Houston Street) area is 40 Mercer, set to be completed by early fall 2006. The 15-story building, originally conceived as a boutique hotel, offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences of 1,222 to 4,017 square feet. Prices range from $2.3 million to $12.5 million.

The true "bling-bling" pads of the building are the two penthouse residences and two other units with --

get this

-- private pools, a practically unheard of perk in the Big Apple. These four units are each priced around $12.5 million.

The plushest dwelling in the building will likely be the four-bedroom, four-bath duplex unit with its own private outdoor pool deck. The unit's total size, outside and in, is 4,139 square feet. The terrace/pool deck is 1,227 square feet, and the living room on the bottom floors is a massive (by Manhattan standards), lofted open space of 1,370 square feet.

For those not lucky enough to have their own pool, residents can enjoy the building's Pool House, which features an indoor T-shape, 50-foot lap pool, a fully-equipped fitness center, steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and private bar and lounge. To add an extra touch of flair, the building offers 24-hour hotel-style concierge services. At the touch of a button, residents can get help with floral services, personal shopping, automotive care, travel arrangements and pet care from the front desk. Even continental breakfast can be delivered to your pad in the morning.

Soho Nice

So far, 13 of the 40 units have been sold, according to Michael Tavani of Nadine Johnson, who handled public relations for the project, with the penthouses and pool pads set to go on the market within weeks. "The qualities that make SoHo an artists' mecca -- light, air and space -- are consistent throughout the building, starting with the soaring garden lobby lounge and block-through private park," the

building's Web site boasts.

One Kenmare Square

A little bit east of 40 Mercer on the fringes of SoHo is Balazs' other luxury condo project, set to open this fall: One Kenmare Square at 55 Crosby St. The 11-story building features a curved glass and brick façade and was designed by architect Richard Gluckman, the man responsible for the renovation of the Whitney Museum in New York. One- and two-bedroom units occupy the space.

If you want to buy something at One Kenmare, you better act fast. According to sales agent Andrew Anderson of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate, the building is sold out except for one unit: the last of the five full-floor Crosby House residences that are accessed through a private entrance on Crosby St.

The price on the third-floor unit that is left is $1.925 million. The two-bedroom, two-bath unit is 1,444 square feet, plus a small balcony off the master bedroom. The interior features a wood-burning fireplace and 8-foot windows overlooking the cobblestone street below.

Curvy Digs

"The demand was nuts for the building," Anderson says. "We opened at the end of February and now we're seven months in and we're almost 100% sold."

Anderson gave a portrait of the residents who bought, without naming names, citing a confidentiality agreement he signed with buyers. "The majority are 28 to 38

years old. A lot of Wall Streeters, a lot of investment bankers. And then a famous director, a famous actress, big politicians," he says.

76 Madison

Go up to the northern edge of beautiful Gramercy Park, further uptown from SoHo, and you'll find several condo projects being built, including 76 Madison.

While residents at the 31-unit building, set to open a year from now, won't have private pools, they will get to boast of another luxurious perk: private catering from renowned chef Geoffrey Zakarian, courtesy of his new nearby plush French restaurant Country.

Residents can enjoy white-glove delivery service and catering for up to 25 people as well as preferred service inside the restaurant.

Country Dining

The two penthouses at 76 Madison -- a 1,900-square-foot unit and a 2,632-square-foot unit -- are selling for about $3.8 million and $5.26 million, respectively.

Both offer massive outdoor terraces sure to boast impressive views. Two-bedroom units in the building start at $895,000.

The roof deck, accessible to all residents, will feature a bar and lounge.

These properties are just three high-end examples of the condo boom in Manhattan, where prices continue to set records as inventory is not keeping pace with the number of sales, as Prudential Douglass Elliman research points out.

In the second quarter of 2005, the average sales price of condos and co-ops in Manhattan reached a record $1.32 million, up 30.4% from a year earlier. In the luxury market -- which represents the top 10% of all condo and co-op sales -- the average price per square foot reached $1,707, up 24.1% from a year earlier.

For primo buildings under development, several developers are now pushing unit prices above $2,000 per square foot.