New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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The Heartbreak of a Lot-Line Window

Union Square

Lot Line Windows
Feb. 2, 2017

Given the current construction frenzy in New York City – and given the way developers seem intent on putting a building on every vacant lot larger than a postage stamp – it’s increasingly common for windows in existing buildings to get covered up by the new building next door. It’s happening every day, from Hudson Yards to the Lower East Side to Brooklyn and beyond.

Shareholders in a Union Square co-op recently learned that a 10-story building is going up next door – and that it will block their lot-line kitchen window. Does the co-op board have an obligation to cosmetically adjust the kitchen so that the shareholders are not looking at a brick wall?

Once the adjoining building blocks the unlucky shareholders’ kitchen window, the co-op will be required to seal up the former window, in compliance with building and fire codes, attorney Eric Sherman of the firm Pryor Cashman tells the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times.

However, it is unlikely the co-op would be obligated to make any cosmetic changes to affected apartments. That’s because the governing documents for almost all co-ops require the cooperative to maintain the exterior of the building and the building systems, while shareholders are responsible for alterations within the apartment, Sherman says. Since the kitchen is inside the apartment, the shareholders will likely have to pay for whatever cosmetic changes are necessary so that they do not have to face a wall where that window once was. Welcome to the big city.

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