Soon, Upper East Side kids will have a new swimming hole where they can learn beach and camp survival skills.
For its first Manhattan location, Goldfish Swim School is diving into Lester’s longtime home, a beloved children’s clothing store at 1534 Second Ave. on the southwest corner of East 80th Street, which closed earlier this year.
The one-story, 10,000-square-foot building is getting a “massive” pool — one that measures 70 by 22 feet — that will be visible from the street, The Post has learned.
The water will be heated to 90 degrees of steam and the air to 92 degrees so that her little goblets “don’t shiver”.
At just 4½ feet deep, the pool is also designed for instruction — not laps or diving, said Katie Lee, franchise co-owner.
Goldfish was founded in Michigan by Jenni McCuiston, a former swim instructor who began exploring the industry in 2004. Two years later, she and her husband, Chris, founded the Goldfish Swim School.
Each week, more than 185,000 swimmers take lessons at nearly 140 open Goldfish swim schools, with another 153 in development by franchisors in more than 33 states and Canada.
Lee, McCuiston’s swimming teammate, started out as an instructor and — in 2009 — joined her friends and co-owners, Hope and Brian Bayer, to open their first Goldfish franchise.
As BHB Operations, the trio now owns 20 locations across the country — along with the upcoming Leicester space, and three under construction in Queens.
BHB started locally with locations in Garden City and later Farmingdale, both on Long Island. Covid has put them “in a pickle,” Lee said, so now schools in Astoria, Flushing and Glen Oaks are finishing work and should open in early 2023.
Lester’s renovations will begin in mid-January with a grand opening later in 2023, said Val Paese, president of the New York region. “The corner is iconic and to be able to walk into a space like that is amazing,” said Paese, the former executive director of the New York Health and Racquet Club.
The “belly” of the Gunite pool will sit in the basement along with the filters and mechanicals. “We don’t rent pools, we install a proper dehumidification system and we keep the air warmer than the pool so the kids aren’t shivering when they get out,” Paese said. “Nobody does it to that extent. This is a real swimming school.”
Parents can watch their little guppies from the “dry side” of the facility behind a massive glass wall. When the lesson is over, they can chat with the instructor on the “wet side” and escort their children, first to the shower and then to the unique private changing area.
“It’s not designed to feel like a locker room, but like you’re on vacation and you’re going to a Tiki Hut,” Lee said.
Some of the locations have space and time for birthday parties — but with lessons running from morning to night, that may not be possible at this Manhattan location, she said.
Charter Realty’s Peter Levine represented the trio in a long-term deal for Lester’s — and is currently negotiating, and looking for other swimming spots.
Lester and Lillian Kronfeld started Lester’s near Coney Island in 1948 and eventually expanded to the tri-state area. Their daughter and son-in-law, Sherry and Perry Shore, along with their nephew, Barry Cohen, now own and operate the other Leicester locations.
Jeffrey Roseman and Drew Weiss of Newmark represented the family in the deal, which was asking $225 a foot.
“The Goldfish is a perfect example of a new breed of experiential user occupying brick-and-mortar locations,” Roseman said. “It’s great that this corner of the Upper East Side will continue to play a monumental role in the lives of children and their families, as Lester’s has for so many decades.”