For board members and property managers of co-ops and condos in New York City, there are legal and financial questions regarding new and old laws, accounting rules, auditing, and so much more. Here’s what you need to know to manage your finances and speak knowledgeably with your accountant and attorney.

When Yaniv Cohen of Acmos on Chrystie LLC purchased 173 Chrystie Street for $15 million, the plan was to build a 10-story luxury condo tower. Bowery Boogie reports that the owners have submitted demolition permits to the Department of Buildings. Although "the paperwork on file with the DOB is still listed as disapproved," so far we know that the tentative completion date is 2018, that the building will span a total floor area of 25,265 square feet spread across 13 units plus a private roof deck, and that amenities will include a cellar gym and bike storage. ODA Architecture has released a rendering showing us what 173 Chrystie will look like, pending the DOB's approval, of course.

Rendering of 173 Chrystie by ODA Architecture

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Negotiating with Your Neighbor

Written by Bill Morris on September 30, 2015

New York City


When a Housing & Development Finance Corporation co-op on Manhattan's Upper West Side learned that its next-door neighbors planned to add three stories to its building — moving not only upward but also outward — the co-op board decided to bring in some heavy artillery. The board hired both a structural engineer and C. Jaye Berger, a Manhattan lawyer who specializes in co-op and condo construction law.

Smart move.

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How Is the New York State Homeowners Credit Allocated?

Written by Tom Soter on September 29, 2015

New York City


Once a building determines it qualifies, the New York State Homeowners Credit is then allocated among the shareholders or unit-owners of the building based on their ownership percentage. For example, if you have 20 shareholders in a co-op and each of them owns five percent of the shares in the corporation, then each of those individual shareholders would get an allocation of five percent of $200,000.

There is more to consider. 

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It was a proposed project that sparked political controversy and international debate. Manhattan developer Sharif El-Gamal wanted to build a 15-story Islamic cultural center and mosque at 45 Park Place, just two blocks north of where the World Trade Center towers once stood. Because of the heated reaction, El-Gamal opted to scrap those plans four years ago. Now the developer is back with a project that caters more to the city's vibe: a 70-story condo, complete with amenities that rival those offered by a five-star hotel. According to Bloomberg Business, "El-Gamal's Soho Properties has proposed a 667-foot (203-meter) condominium tower at lower Manhattan's 45 Park Place. The glass skyscraper, which has yet to break ground, will include at least 15 full-floor units of 3,200 to 3,700 square feet (297 to 344 square meters), and average prices higher than $3,000 a square foot." More good news for those multimillionaire buyers who make up the ultra luxury market.

Proposed condo for 45 Park Place/El-Gamal's Soho Properties

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Case Notes: Going, going… Not So Fast!

Written by Richard Siegler and Dale J. Degenshein on September 28, 2015

New York City

A co-op board decided to auction off common area space to the highest bidder. When the bids came in, the board decided to have shareholders bid again. When those bids were received, the co-op re-evaluated, and decided it was better served if the board rented the space, as it had been doing. When the board announced that it would not sell, did the bidding shareholders have a cause of action? Did the answer change if one of the renters was a board member? What if the plaintiffs alleged they had an acrimonious relationship with the board? These were the issues addressed by the court in Newman v. 911 Alwyn Owners Corp

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In this week's Ask Real Estate column in The New York Times, a longtime resident and shareholder in a Greenwich Village co-op asks Ronda Kaysen what he can expect if he decides to run for his building's board. Kaysen opens with an important dose of realism: "There are many thankless jobs in this world, and being a member of a co-op board often makes the list. It is an unpaid — and frequently time-consuming — position. When things go awry, your neighbors blame you. But it has upsides. You get to know the inner workings of your building and help decide its future." Some boards are more hands on, while others prefer to let their managing agents do the heavy lifting. If you're wondering what you can expect as a first-time board member, be sure to check out our extensive coverage on everything from board politics to reading a financial statement. We've also compiled five articles that offer a snapshot on board life:

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Luxury condo towers are rising anywhere you look, and it's not just Billionaires Row, either: Brooklyn, the Upper West Side, Union Square, and even a wooden tower in Chelsea. Naturally, these high-rises are transforming the city's skyline at a dramatic pace. VisualHouse, a 3D architectural visualization company, has created a rendering that shows what Manhattan's southern half will look like in 2030. Curbed reports that "while the rendering itself dazzles with a nighttime cityscape that almost looks real, it provides a valuable view of the various projects that will usher New York City into its next iteration as home to some of the world's tallest buildings."

Rendering of Manhattan skyline in 2030 by VisualHouse

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When Must Enclosures Be Removed?

Written by Frank Lovece on September 25, 2015

New York City


If, after all the considerations of legal, aesthetic, and other issues, a board decides that an enclosed balcony has to come down and not go back up — what then?

"The owner will scream and moan and say, 'How dare you?' and offer 17 reasons not to do it," Kenneth Jacobs, a partner in the law firm Smith, Buss & Jacobs warns. Among the arguments, he says: "It was there when I bought it. There's no alteration agreement, so how do you know the co-op/condo didn't install this? You're the one who has to make the structural repair" — which is true — "so, therefore, you've assumed all the responsibility for repairing and replacing anything I built" — which is not true except for something "like an earthquake, because that would be a casualty, and casualty losses differ from repair and maintenance."

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Here's a story that may potentially stoke the ire of some New Yorkers boil. It looks like U.S. taxpayers will be footing a $1.5 million bill for a luxury condo in Chelsea. Wait for it… Made of wood. According to DNAinfo, if the Department of Buildings approves the construction plans, a 10-story building made mostly of wood could rise at 475 West 18th Street. The development "won a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Softwood Lumber Board for research into how to work with engineered wood for construction, according to a department announcement," DNAinfo reported. You know New York has changed when developers are building things made out of wood on purpose. Designed by the SHoP, who also worked on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the 120-foot wooden structure will be located across the street from the High Line. It will have commercial space on the ground floor (hope it's not a restaurant) and will have 15 two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments.

Photo of wooden high rise by SHoP

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George McGrath, board president of the posh co-op called Forest Hills South Owners, says his board has maintained a "trust but verify" policy for many years. That legacy includes a simple but effective list of processes when dealing with building finances and management companies.

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Ask the Experts

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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