New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

ARCHIVE ARTICLE

How Should Your Garden Grow?

For many co-ops and condos, a rooftop garden is a hot commodity, increasing curb appeal while providing a relaxing space for residents. But if the garden is not done right, it can turn into a series of headaches for the board, costing the building time and money.

“Landscaping provides aesthetic value but a community garden brings more – spices, vegetables, and, of course, a better sense of community,” says Philip Whalen, a principal at Key Real Estate Associates. “That said, it is wise to establish some ground (pun intended) rules.”

The first thing to address is the question of space. In a co-op or condo, communal space is limited. “Roof gardens require careful consideration. Roofs need to be protected from the weight of planters, watering or irrigation systems, and penetrations into the membrane that can cause leaks,” says Whalen. “A good first step is to check with your engineer or architect to make sure that the roof [will be] protected in any design, and that any warranty is not voided.” If there is space within the grounds of the property, doing it there instead of on the roof might save you some hassles.

As far as expenses are concerned, Whalen notes that “generally, the soil and fencing are a cost covered by the building. The individuals tending to the gardens usually share their bounty with the community, or at least a portion of it. Underwriting the cost of seeds and fertilizer is something that should only be done when the rules about distribution have been established.”

Glossary

(kwôrəm) Quorum, a legal term first used in Shakespeare’s time, refers to the fixed number of members whose presence is necessary to transact business. It comes from the Latin of whom. For cooperatives and condominiums, it’s the prescribed number of shareholders or unit-owners who must be present at an annual meeting in order to conduct official business, including the election of board members.

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