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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



2018: The Year in Review

The year is ending, and that means it’s time to look back on what was good, what was bad, and what was downright inane in the New York real estate world in the last 12 months.

The “board member as nudge” Award: to Jane Porter, a board member at the Belle Shores condominium, who recalls inspecting the property with contractors after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy: “After the storm, I walked every unit. I pointed out problems that I saw. I made up lists. I followed up. I was really quite annoying.”

The “Lambs were never this unsilent” Award: to the opera baritone who insists on using his co-op apartment as a rehearsal studio, leading his neighbor to remark: “Of course Don Giovanni is a pinnacle achievement in human expression, but must he really sing it so loudly that I am starting to learn Italian against my will?”

The “its not as simple as ABC” Award:  to the New York City Council, which passed legislation requiring owners of buildings 25,000 square feet and larger to post letter grades (A to F) – similar to restaurant reviews but evaluating building energy efficiency. Not everyone agrees on the meaning of the grades, however, since the vagaries of different evaluation systems have left the energy-efficient 1 Bryant Park with a “C” rating. That rankles some. “For a restaurant to score that poorly,” noted an astounded writer in Crain’s New York Business, “it basically has to have rats scurrying around in plain view.”

The “Three-in-one” Award: Manhattan resident manager Semir Nikovic, who ordered pet-friendly salt to melt winter sidewalk ice, then used a special brush machine to apply it judiciously. “You’re saving the sidewalk,” he says, “you’re saving the salt, and you’re saving the dogs’ [paws] – all three at the same time.” 

The “This isn’y what they mean by transparency” Award: to the co-op board member who, after a board meeting, would travel in the elevator or stand in the lobby, telling everybody what had happened at the meeting. He finally shut up after the board threatened to boot him out.

The “another clue for you all” Award: to former manager Maryann Carro-Caputo, who had some odd inancial habits. A few days before monthly board meetings, she would send out incomplete financial statements. The boards didn’t always notice the missing pages, but when they did, she said the missing information was left out in error and she would correct the problem in the next statement. She never did, and the errors added up, until one building reported that more than $70,000 had allegedly vanished from the co-op’s coffers. (Carro-Caputo was unavailable for comment.)

The “There’s a reason people don’l wanl To serve on The board” Award: to the new board member who, on the elevator coming home from work, was confronted by a shareholder who was angry over a recent assessment. The board member tried to explain that the assessment was for much-needed work, but the angry shareholder kept shouting at her, even getting off at the board member’s floor, continuing to yell at her as they walked down the hall to her apartment.

The “There’s a reason peopLe hate bureaucracies” Award: to Metro-North. After a retaining wall collapsed onto Metro-North’s railway tracks passing by Hudson Courts, a Yonkers co-op, the railroad refused to offer any financial assistance to the beleaguered co-op. Recalls David Amster, president of PLI Management, the co-op’s manager: “Metro-North said, ‘It’s your wall; you deal with it.’”

The “No longer welcome” Award: to that familiar sign of hospitality, the doormat, which the city’s fire code has banned as a combustible material. Not to worry. According to the Fire Department, you can use an “oversized area rug” – if it is “noncombustible or flame-proofed by an approved method.” Just don’t call it a doormat.

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